Tying Purple Shoes, pt. 2

(the following is a continuation of TYING PURPLE SHOES, pt. 1.)

*    *    *

“So it’s supposed to be funny?”

“Isn’t it?”

“Well, sure, if you read it for face value.”

“What other kind of value is there?”

“I don’t know, the reason for writing it in the first place.”

“It was cute.”


“Wasn’t it?”

“Sure. I wonder how much of it is true, though.”

“Enough. My daughter actually said that to her class about what I do.”

“So the last, what, two lines are true.”

“The last two lines are true.”

“The rest is fiction.”

“The rest is imagined. That’s what creative non-fiction is kind of about. I wasn’t actually there in the classroom, so I took everything I was told and mixed it with everything I knew about the environment and the people in it and I wrote something that is factually and situationally accurate.”

“It is.”

“Yes. The teacher told me about the shoe tying quote when I picked her up. She thought it was cute as hell.”

“Which it is, clearly.”

“What are we talking about here, exactly?”

“I suppose I could find it cute, and end it there. But. It’s not my job to end it there, I guess. If I read a little closer and take the longer view, I would say this piece is a bit grumpy and full of more than just a little self-pity.”

” . . . “

“In other words, it isn’t about the cute thing your daughter said in nursery school.”



“I see. You’re going to tell me that it is actually about me, as the writer, comparing my achievements to those of other mostly younger and fitter fathers.”

“And about how your children might compare you to those other fathers. How they see or don’t see your gifts and contributions to their world, and how those contributions might stack up to other men of similar age and education.”


“My Dad can beat up your Dad kind of thing.”

“But the story was short and funny.”

“That it was. But from the perspective of the writer looking outward, it had a certain ouch stitched into the fabric of it. And I think that’s the better story.”

“No, my daughter’s cute attempt to express what her Dad does all day is the better story. Whatever ouch is there is subtext at best.”

“It’s hard to do what you do.”

“Maybe. But a kid says the word Mom, and people instinctively know what that means. A kid says the word Dad and people get all flummoxed and need more information. It’s almost always followed by the question ‘What does he do?’ Dad is rarely enough.”

“What do you do?”


“No really.”

“Basically, I keep two kids alive for a living.”

“Your sarcasm and your dismissal of the challenge involved in that difficult achievement reveals the ouch.”

” . . .”

“It’s not about tying purple shoes.”

” . . .”

” . . .”

“I hope it is.”

“But it isn’t.”

” . . . “

” . . . “

“I really hope it is.”