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Baby steps on the trail of defeating ehsanophobia

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As unusual as it might be to use this space to toot my own horn, I achieved a personal milestone this past week that — by its sheer stupendiosity alone — simply cannot go unrecognized.

I bought a pair of new shoes.

I know, I know … thank you, thank you so much … no, really, there’s no reason to stand … the applause alone would suffice.

Whew … if I’d known that scaling such a peak would be greeted with such shock and awe, I would have embarked on this life-affirming journey years ago.

Well, no … no I wouldn’t.

It was just a few days, weeks, months (Who can tell the difference anymore?) ago that I shared my personal agony of the feet, particularly when it comes to covering them successfully.

And then, suddenly, I walked through the valley of shadow of ehsanophobia where I’ve often feared to tread, and … voila! … the thrill of victory.

(Ruling under review.)

The nightmare ended after I had stopped at Freddy’s for a carton of milk and a jug of distilled water, when — on my own and on a whim — I veered onto the road never taken toward the shoe department.

Now, if you know anything about your formerly humble servant (or, perhaps, you can empathize), then you realize that “on my own” and “on a whim” are two of the three sure signs of the shopping apocalypse.

I can count on the fingers … wait, the toes of one foot … that a purchasing excursion had ended successfully when undertaken by myself and at the spur of the moment.

Throw in “impulsive decision,” and frogs would begin raining from the heavens.

Historically, I am not prone to spending money on a hope and a prayer — despite what that pile of scratch tickets in the den might tell you.

But there I sat on a hassock in the between the shoe aisles, with a box of Size 10 Wides in my hand, debating whether to take the next step.

Trying them on was fraught with peril. What if the left one fit, but the right one didn’t? What if the laces were strung through the bottoms, instead of the tops, of the eyelets?

What if, after conquering the growing fear, I broke one of the shoes? Would I have to then buy them … as my parents had ingrained in my psychosis so many years ago when about to enter a store?

But this was a different day. Caution was thrown to the wind until, while one shoeless foot awaited its guinea pig duty, I spied two words printed multiple times on the box.

“MEMORY FOAM”

Clearly this was important information … why else would it be in capital letters?

Devoid of a handy search engine — remember that smartphone I told you I was buying a year ago … well, about that — I was unable to learn from Wikipedia that MEMORY FOAM was a substance that ... “consists mainly of polyurethane as well as additional chemicals increasing its viscosity and density. It is often referred to as “viscoelastic” polyurethane foam, or low-resilience polyurethane foam (LRPu). The foam bubbles or ‘cells’ are open, effectively creating a matrix through which air can move.”

If I knew then what I (and now you) know today, I’d be wondering if these open, viscoelastic cells currently on my dog-tired tootsies have created a matrix through which Cujo could emerge.

Things were tough enough back at Freddy’s as, after a successful fitting, I wandered the store wondering whether to go through with the transaction, bring them home, hope for approval from the other residents of house — her over the price tag, the cat about the box — and, after all that, would have the strength actually to wear them.

For example, the most recent pair of shoes purchased (not on my own or on a whim) for my feet sat unused for more than two weeks before being taken out of the box and put to work.

The unfolding drama was interrupted, however, as an alarm sounded throughout the store.

At first I thought this might be some internal warning system directing me to put the 10 Wides back from whence they came and move along, no questions asked.

But then I saw other customers looking about for the source of the high-pitched whine, so I did as well — only to come to the frightening discovery that everyone else was staring in my direction.

The instant paranoia had me contemplating Donald Sutherland’s fate as the pod people screeched, approached and pointed to him during the final act of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”

The box in my hands was indeed the source of the alarm and, while I thought for a moment that the LRPUs were mounting an escape plan, it turned out to be one of those tracking gizmos stores attach to clothing as a security measure.

“What did you do?” the shoe clerk asked with a devilish grin — which was apropos, since I’d been asking the same question of myself for the past half-hour.

She deactivated the gizmo, the purchase was consummated, and before I knew it I was back in the car headed for the uncertain response I would receive once in the house.

Still, I thought as the shoes sat ominously in the passenger seat, at least I had defeated this particular demon. All in all, a successful shopping experience.

Until, that is, I found myself heading to the other Freddy’s … for the distilled water and the milk.

Mail Tribune news editor Robert Galvin does not need chemicals to increase the density at rgalvin@rosebudmedia.com