Monday, March 1, 2010

Senior's Sneakers

“Don’t wear white sneakers,” a young friend counseled me before Hubby and I traveled abroad a few years ago. “Only Americans wear white sneakers.”

Since I had no desire to be an easy target for a terrorist whose goal was to kill as many Americans as he could, I hunted the shoe stores until I found comfortable black sneakers. Under great duress, my husband, who had two pair of comfortable white sneakers, bought a pair of black sneakers. He felt my fear of being an easy target was silly. “You think only sneakers make you look like a tourist? What about your tote bags stuffed with souvenirs?”

The two of us were the only tourists on the cruise ship wearing black sneakers. Hubby pointed this out daily. He also pointed out that the cruise ships put different color stickers right over each passenger’s heart before we disembarked from the ship for each day’s excursion. The purpose of the stickers is to make it easy for the tour guides to know who is in their groups. It also would make it easy for a sniper to kill us – as the comedians pointed out during the evening shows on the ship.

By the end of our vacation, I knew the advice about the color of the sneakers was wrong – in a way. White sneakers are the “uniform” of my generation. Most young people will wear sneakers in every color. No matter what country we were in, if the local folks were our contemporaries and dressed causally, they had on white sneakers. Hubby took delight in pointing it out to me. By the time our vacation was over, I came to think of white sneakers as an age indicator. Hair and sneakers matched.

Because of a foot problem I developed two years ago, I need a special brand of sneakers. I order a new pair when I need them and the color choice is usually limited to one. When we moved into my Seniorville almost a year ago, I was the only senior on the walking trail or in the gym whose sneakers were not white. Mine were purple and gray. I was eternally grateful when this year’s color choice for my sneaker included white. I once again fit in with my color-coordinated peer group.

Hubby asks me to tell him if I think he’s dressed like an old man – meaning out of style – his stereotype for old men. The other night, while dressing for dinner, he put on his white sneakers with jeans. “Put your black sneakers on,” I insisted. “You look like an old man in those sneakers.”

He did. Then we went to the restaurant where we were meeting several other couples from our development. Hubby was the only one of the men NOT wearing white sneakers. I winked at him, and said, “I’m with they youngest old man in the room!”

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