November 24, 2007

Made for walking

"Hey, your shoes are untied!"

I hear this constantly, from friends, students, and perfect strangers. It's not my fault. The great minds who run the shoelace industry have conspired over the last decade to create shoelaces that don't stay tied, a matter I find incredibly frustrating. I wear sneakers or hiking boots every day, including the days I teach, and my shoelaces are always dangling and flapping as I walk. These modern shoelaces are pretty, I admit, and they are strong, but the damned things do not stay tied. Yes, I've tried the doubleloop technique that seems to work for my friends. It does not work for me.

My students are always yelling at me to tie my shoes. But what's the point? They just come untied again. I refuse to keep tying them every five minutes, just on principle. The entire purpose of the shoelace to tie the shoe. Why would anyone start making shoelaces that untie as you walk? It's like making a clock that doesn't tell the correct time or a microwave that doesn't cook food or a jack-in-the-box that doesn't pop out of the box.

Back in the day, I told my students, we had shoelaces that stayed tied. They were flat and cotton and sometimes they broke, but at least they did the job.

Of course, I've sort of regarded the warning, "you are going to trip," as some kind of urban myth. No one, I thought, really trips on shoelaces. I mean, it's annoying to have them flopping around my sneakers, but I never thought that the untied shoes were dangerous.

But then last week, I was on an outing with my students. I was walking along a sidewalk, talking happily, gesturing with my hands the way I do when I talk. My left foot stepped down, and my right foot, trapped by a shoelace, stayed tethered to the ground when I tried to pick it up, and in an instant, I went crashing to the ground, falling headfirst onto the sidewalk. My knees, palms, and ego scraped against the asphalt.

My students could have said, "I told you so," but they didn't. They checked my cuts to make sure they were clean, and then one student said, "You know, they still make the old kind of shoelaces. You need to buy some and replace these laces that won't stay tied."

As usual, my students were right. I found flat, cotton shoelaces at the grocery store. I was so eager to buy them that I didn't even stop to see if they had any color but white. I'm thinking black would have been a better choice. But of course, I am not out to make a fashion statement. I'm just happy to have laces that do the job.

New shoelaces!

18 comments:

zhoen said...

If my loops are long enough, I tie them in a good knot, not another bow, which mostly seems to work.
I can't vouch for these Products, nor this method, but this is what the internet is good for.

Hope the scrapes are healing.

Colleen said...

Good lord. You become more like Dad every day.

ppb said...

My dad has the same problem. He boils his white laces in with teabags to make them beige, though. I do think the white is rather snow appropriate.

zelda1 said...

I hate the new shoe strings. Mind don't come untied, but they slide over to the side and then it looks like I don't know how to tie my shoes. My husband, though, is like you; his shoes never stay tied. He has really skinny feet and I think that has something to do with it too.

liz said...

I am going out tomorrow to buy MM a new pair of shoes and old-fashioned laces because not only do his laced shoes not stay tied, his velcro shoes come undone too.

I like the white laces.

Joy from Wisconsin said...

My Phys Ed professor taught us how to tie a kid's shoe (because preshoolers' shoes never stayed tied!) to keep them from untieing.

You start with the normal tying process but after you loop the second string in, you loop it again in the same hole and pull it tight. This works much better than trying to make a double knot.

Of course this will also work with you old-fashioned laces. :) Hope that helps and your scraps heal quickly!

Joy
P.S. Speaking of walking- right now I am hobbling around on one leg. I have had ankle-fusion surgery and I have two more months (one month down) of being non-weight bearing. 24 years ago I broke my ankle, and this is to get rid of the severe arthritis that made me limp and sometimes, at the end of the day unable to walk without humongous pain.

lizardek said...

You are too adorable.

Busymomma66 said...

I had the same problem (and I thought it was me!) so I stopped wearing shoes with laces (except 1 pair of walking sneakers with cotton shoelaces--which still untie, just not as often).

Hope all is healed.

Cathy said...

Well, like lizardek said, you are too adorable.

However, I hear you on all of this. As a preschool teacher, I deal with this daily and since these tykes can't tie their shoes, we are constantly having to tie them. And velcro...they are fascinated with the sound it makes...
I say let them go barefoot... but then again... we don't have snow.

Nadine said...

Hee hee. You are too funny. Yes, black might have been a better choice, but I'm sure you'll get them dirty soon enough with all the hiking and romping you do.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

I have long hated the new-fangled shoelaces that refuse to stay tied. I think they are intentionally designed to not stay tied. I'll have to dash out and buy some of the flat cotton ones. I'll look for brown or black, LOL. Hope your scrapes are healed!

crazymumma said...

Yes those laces glare, but do not fear, they will be grey sooner rather than later.

S. said...

I am all about the double knot.

Yankee T said...

I have cotton laces in my sneakers and for some reason they STILL come untied. I, too, am all about the double knot.

Rana said...

Did we talk about this in the spring?

I was going to say that I thought some of my shoes had those horrible non-staying-tied laces, but when I stopped to think about it, I realized that I _used_ to have some, and now none of my shoes are that way. Some do have the rounder laces, but they are soft and squishy (rather than stiff and slick) so they work okay.

You know, since they are white, I bet you could take some marker pens to them and make them into fancy "designer" laces very easily!

BerryBird said...

Double knot? Is that what you call it when you knot the laces over and over again until there is nothing left to tie and 5 or 6 knotted loops stacked one upon the other? Because that is what I do.

And as others have said, those won't stay white for long!

Professor Shoelace said...

It's worth checking whether you're tying a "Granny Knot", which is much more prone to coming undone. The answer is on Ian's Shoelace Site: http://www.fieggen.com/shoelace/slipping.htm
The site also has several secure shoelace knots.

Andrew Dalke said...

I didn't learn to tie my shoes properly until this last spring when I came across Ian's Shoelace Site, which Professor Shoelace pointed out. It turns out I had always tied a granny knot on my left shoe. Now I'm slower at tying my shoes since I'm checking to see if I have it right, but they stay knotted.