Okay, confession time, I can’t tie my shoelaces.
Phew! That wasn’t too bad now I’ve finally got it off my chest, in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever admitted that before.
Actually, I did admit it to TomO, my 12 year-old son a few years back when he was struggling with the concept. And I recall being a little snookered at the time, especially when he asked for a demo of how it was done.
I just didn’t want to go there and let’s face it there are plenty of things that can mess around with a young mind and this didn’t need to be one of them. So I ‘fessed up and sent him to speak with his mother.
And speaking of his mother, I did mention it to Janet, as there was some risk of tripping over as I led her arm-in-arm down the aisle on our wedding day. Believe me, I’m assured of tripping at least once a week with the way I tie my shoelaces. Imagine the wedding shots with me sporting a black eye in them, all because I tripped on a rogue shoelace that had come undone.
I’m sure many would find the recounting of such a story funny, but I’d be the brunt of endless jokes down at the local football club.
“Hey Baz, you didn’t even get down the aisle and you’re sporting a black eye already”. Bluey and the boys would be on to me with the ferocity of a ‘pit-bull terrier’ nipping at your heels…”
I ran the gauntlet when playing football as a pre-pubescent teenager growing up in Townsville. The other boys were always impressed my mother turned up for every single game we played, always on the sideline cheering away, but of course I never told them that mum and I ducked around to the back of the sheds before the game so she could tie my boots up.
Only a loving mother could do that, and boy it saved me from embarrassment at a very delicate age. We won every game that year and the boys nominated mum as our lucky charm.
I think I can even trace back my life-long habit of sleeping without bed-clothes, you know, in the nuddy, due to this problem, despite telling Janet I was just a new-age type of guy. It did start a trend though…
Remember those flannelette pyjamas, the ones with the draw-cord that you had to tie off?
I still have nightmares over them and go into a cold-sweat whenever I pass a rack of jarmies at our local K-Mart store…
I used to tie them off in my usual way, but after a few tosses and turns in the bed my bow would become a knot. Invariably I’d wake up needing to visit the little room, you know, the call of nature, make a quick dash down the hallway worried I might only just make it, only to find the knot at the last critical moment.
Talk about panic, sheer panic!
No one ever owned up to who hid the scissors in the little room, although I think mum has always suspected me. Perhaps the tell tale sign was a severed cord in my pyjamas, but funny as it seems now, she never asked why I didn’t need any new pyjamas from that moment on.
And what about Dunlop Volleys, I had stacks of those in my young adult years. The first thing I did when I opened the box was to rip the laces out and throw them away, problem solved. I thought it looked so cool walking around in them without laces. Mind you it should come as no surprise that I would put that sort of spin on it.
It did look cool, didn’t it?
I mean Janet never said it didn’t, but back then we were freshly wedded and you know how those things work, nodding yes, but thinking no! Mind you she never criticised those yellow pants I used to wear, well not back then anyway, but she’s managed to toss that one out there a couple of times recently…
These days if I had a pair of the old Dunlop’s on without laces someone would be offering me 5 bucks to buy some and telling me to keep the change to get myself a feed.
While we’re on shoes, how good are running shoes these days? The ones with the Quicklace for one pull tightening, no need to tie anything. I was right on to them when they first came out.
My running mates were impressed and I was singing their virtues so often that I’m sure they must have been thinking I was on some sort of retainer from the company. The unfortunate downside is they made my stockpile of Dunlop Volley’s redundant, after all how am I supposed to offload a dozen pair without shoelaces?
So by now you are probably thinking, okay Baz, bravo, but what’s with it? I’m sure there are others with a similar problem even if we’ve never come across them…
Well you see any mountaineer worth his or her salt will have a repertoire of some complex knots that they can perform blindfolded. And I’m sure there is one knot for every letter in the alphabet, and then a hundred more!
The girth hitch, a water knot, a figure eight fisherman’s knot, the munter hitch, and something called a stopper knot that sounds like it’s a pretty important one.
On a recent abseiling course my marker was finally called in…
I had a quick mental debate over whether I should admit to our instructor that I couldn’t tie my shoelaces, but thought better of it because it might be me first up on the rope after I’ve tied it off.
Besides, I’m sure there is a climber’s creed that says something like, you tied it, you try it!
And it would save them any embarrassment when under cross-examination in a coronial inquiry.
Imagine having to defend a fact that you allowed someone who could not tie their shoelaces to tie off the anchor points on top of the cliff that lead to the sudden demise of some poor family man with a dozen mouths to feed.
Yep, there’d be no doubting they’d be too smart to be caught out like that, so it was more likely to be me abseiling at 100 kilometres an hour with one end of the rope in each hand.
Mind you I did think of mum, but a fear of heights ruled her out. Besides, would I really want my mother with me asking have I got my handkerchief just as I’m about to abseil over the edge?
So here it was, my moment of truth.
Actually it wasn’t too bad.
They all thought it was a great joke and everyone laughed loudly. Even though this was serious business it could still be fun and there is nothing like a rope joke to break the ice.
But the laughing floated away into the valley below when I explained it was true!
I could even see a couple of them processing this and clearly questioning in their minds whether it was in fact a tree root I tripped on as we made our way down to the cliff-face from the carpark. And like wandering eyes drawn to the busom of a woman in a low cut dress, they spent the rest of the day fixated on my shoes.
Our instructor was quite good about it really and offered some comforting words and said I shouldn’t worry as there are probably many people like me, and thinking they probably weren’t abseilers though.
As soon as I turned my back he was right on to those knots I tied. Strewth, I would have been if I was him, especially as he was clipped on a safety line that I had just tied-off. The colour drained from his face as he stepped back from the cliff edge, shaking visibly!
But we did work away at those knots; the figure eight was popular, very strong and guaranteed to hold everything in place, just as long as you got it right. I practised away, at times feeling like I had a fistful of thumbs as I worked on those fisherman’s knots. But I was mastering it, on my way to becoming a pro!
And my rigging was successfully put to the test; but mind you I still have a problem of sorts.
I’ve been working so fervently on my climber’s knots that I still haven’t got around to working out how to tie my shoelaces.
Remember as a kid when you got your first pair of shiny black shoes?
I do. I refused to take them off for a week, even insisting on wearing them to bed despite being offered as much ice-cream I could eat in return for removing them.
You see I’ve been practicing my fisherman’s knot on my work shoes (Doh!) and anyone with even a basic understanding of knots will know the fisherman’s knot is designed to never come undone, something I overlooked as I was high-fiving TomO.
The penny dropped as I headed for a shower and I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry, and a couple of those naughty words did slip out.
But there we have it, tonight it looks like I’m going to bed with my shoes on for the first time in years and no amount of ice-cream is going to save the situation. I just need to broach the topic with Janet.
It’s kind of funny really; here I am dressed to the nines for bed in just my work shoes. Who would have thought my mountaineering journey would have a twist like this in it?
Am I alone on this one, or is there a huge group, inspired by my confession, about to come-out?