Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Miracle of the Shoelace

I changed a shoelace recently: a rather unusual if banal event. You see, one doesn't get to or need to replace shoelaces much anymore. In fact, I can't recall my last incident. (Of course, since I can barely recall what I had for any given meal yesterday, that isn't in itself remarkable.)

There was a time, however, when we were sure to keep replacement laces on hand because the unceremonious breaking-of-the-lace was not an uncommon event. Frequently, I'd be lacing up my shoes when a lace would simply snap in two, and I don't think my Samson-like strength was the cause of the mishap — it was all down to the material. Somewhere along the line, however, that changed. Now, we can own shoes for years, use them regularly, and the laces will most likely remain intact and reliable for the duration. Even in the case of the recent changing, the shoelace in question didn't snap; it simply frayed and weakened but held on, and I left it in that condition for quite a while before I got around to dealing with it.

I'm not sure when it all changed — when the miracle of the shoelace occurred. It seems to me that it might have been the late seventies or early to mid eighties, but I can't be sure. Maybe it wasn't even an overnight shift; maybe they improved gradually to the point where they seldom seem to fail; but, improve they did.

So, I wonder why, we still have to buy them in pairs.


Lorna said...

I thank God daily for the invention of velcro

karla said...

Mark's dress shoe laces still snap on occasion, so we tend to keep spare laces here, but now that I think about it, I think they only break in the winter after repeated exposure to all the salts in the street.

But you're right. They come in pairs and by the time you need a new lace, the remnant lace is all the wrong style and thickness for the new shoes.

dabrah said...

Maybe someone should start a shoelace exchange to take up the odd lace that's left when only one needs replacing.

womaninawindow said...

Ha, I like this. Deep musing.

And I'm wondering if maybe they haven't improved at all, but instead, perhaps we as a society have weakened? Or maybe it's that we're so overwhelmed with choices, shoes for work, for walk, for fun. In the good ole days there was one pair for all, and if you were lucky the soles were in tact.

Or it might just be nylon.

Mary said...

I enjoyed reading this. I can't remember when shoelaces changed, but I think you are right about the 70s or 80s. Seems to me I never had to buy daughter shoelaces when she was young, but I certainly did when I was young.

Thanks for the memories. I enjoyed visiting with you this evening.


Ruth said...

I agree that shoelaces last longer. But whatever material they are made of is slippery and they come undone far too often when I walk. I have to double tie my hikers and running shoes

Simply Coll said...

You are so right in this observation and now your words have got me thinking. :-)

Janet said...

That's an interesting observation. I usually have to replace shoelaces because the Queen likes to remove all the laces from all our shoes and tie them together to "decorate" things with. Many times I cannot find both laces.