People think I give them sound advice, but I don’t.
I always start by asking what their favourite brand of shoes is. Then I hand them a pair and ask them to run to the other side of the shop – we’ve painted an orange stripe on the floor, emulating an athletics track – and I tell them I’ll observe their feet, how they move, how they make contact with the floor and how they push off, so I can determine exactly what kind of shoe is perfect for their feet, for the way they run.
But what I actually do, once they start running, is think about who of my girlfriends I’m going to fuck that night. Will it be Angela, who has the most voluptuous pair of tits? Will it be Monica, who shaves and tastes of innocence? Or will it be Maria, who is more of a brainiac, but hey, you can’t blame me for wanting some good conversation from time to time. The mind is a muscle as well.
When they’ve done their little run and they gawk at me not knowing what to expect, because running shoes are a science these days and they are unknowledgeable, I look back with a slightly unhappy grimace: me, The Expert, is not 110% happy with what he saw and thinks there is a better solution.
I disappear into the stock room, where I take 3 minutes to watch some lesbian action on my iPhone, and I come back with another pair of shoes. Again from their favourite brand.
They put them on and instantly I say, “Do you feel the difference?” They look at me, almost bewildered, with eyes that say, Wow, this guy really knows his stuff. “Do another run,” I say, and off they go. I now bend through my knees to give the impression I’m focussing harder on their feet, but in reality I’m just trying very hard to make up my mind about my plans for that night.
When they’ve finished their run I immediately ask to do it over. I don’t even get up, I stay squatted at the beginning of the strip of orange and illusion.
As soon as they’re back I show a slight smile, a hint of contentment and I say, “You know, people always tend to stick with what they know. In this case your favourite brand of shoes. But to be honest, I have a pair that would suit the way you run better. Would you mind trying them on, just so you have something to compare?”
They nod. Before they have the time to take off the shoes, I’m already standing next to them with the recommended pair. It is suboptimal. But of course they don’t know that. We go through the same routine of them running and me faking interest in how they run and I say, “From where I’m standing, they look perfect. They give a slight correction to your feet, because you put your heels on the ground first.” (Or: you run on the ball of your foot. Or: you tip your feet a bit to the left when you run. Or: whatever.) I look them straight in the eye and again they nod.
Suboptimal running shoes are like a slow seeping venom. In the long run – and that pun is intended – they will kill you. You will adjust your posture slightly while running and that will create wear and tear in your joints and your muscles. The micro-damage will spread all over your body. And you won’t feel it until it’s too late. Because of the pain you will stop running, you will stop moving altogether. The infections will overgrow your body. Because you have been straining your heart, unnoticeably, you will one day collapse in a heap of spasms and that will be it.
They smile when they leave the shop. They are happy with their new running shoes.
Bart Van Goethem. Micro and flash fiction writer. Drummer. Addict (Real Racing 3). His goal is to play his way through life. So far, so good. Follow him @bartvangoethem.