The Prairie Spy

Alan “Lindy” Linda

  People tying their shoelaces wrong forces me to rewrite a column that I’ve already done but cannot find. (Google Drive has without doubt the worst search engine ever!)  I can’t find it. So I’ll do one again.

I don’t know how I learned to tie my shoes The Correct Way, but I did. Yes. The Correct Way. Most people don’t realize that there is A Better Way, as opposed to A Way that allows them to come untied over and over. 

Was it dad who taught me? He was left handed and would have perhaps taught me while facing me, which confirms that he probably tied his wrong. Which would explain why he never untied his laces. Instead, he unlooped them from his farm shoe hooks, still tied.

What precipitated all this angst regarding shoe tying was watching S., who stopped while we were walking,  to retie her shoes, which had come undone. She does this a lot, but for some reason this time, I stopped and bent down to see her do it.

And sure enough, they were coming undone because of her method.

So, I asked her, where did you learn to tie your shoes like that? (I was being careful here. One has to tread delicately when a situation with the opposite sex could produce you yourself regretting trying to be helpful. I may not know how women think, exactly, but I know at this point in my life that I know I don’t know what I know I don’t know.

Learning that comes at the top of the list of stuff that I don’t know. The older I get, the longer the list grows. Meanwhile, she’s down on one knee, retying a shoelace the wrong way. No, I didn’t point that out by saying: “You know that’s wrong, don’t you?”

Shoe laces aren’t that long, but nonetheless, I don’t want to be the victim of the very first strangulation by shoe lace in history. Or even the victim of an attempted laceangulation.

In answer to my question, she said that she remembered in kindergarten that they had a wooden shoe, which everyone learned on. (Learned wrong on, I wanted to point out, but I stifled it.)

If your shoe laces lie on your shoes up and down, you’re tying them wrong, unless you’re tying them that way so you get to retie them a lot when gravity pulls on the bottom loop and unties them.

Your shoe laces should point left and right, or as S. put it, your lace “rabbit ears” should look like rabbit ears, one on each side, not one down and one up.’

She explained how she was taught: “Okay, first you put the left lace over the right lace, and pull the end of the left one under and toward you.”

Nope. Hold it. Right there. Uh uh. Right from the beginning, that’s wrong. Well, not wrong, exactly, I told her, quickly realizing that the word “wrong” here is, well, wrong.

Doing it that way, I told her, will likely result in you stopping and retying over and over again. I said: Right over left, trade hands, pull the one you put over under, because, I went on, over not under will result in under not over not under, you see?

Let’s stop there. Only with words can I tell you how to spot a weak tie for your laces, when you see them lying up and down. Words alone won’t tell you the right way.

When S.’s teacher taught them on that wooden shoe, someone should have pointed out to her the error of her ways. Had that teacher been a man, it would have been a simple process of saying to him: You’re teaching that wrong.

Since teachers are hard to find, a principal would be the last one to worry about how many generations of kids came through that school ending up tying their shoes over and over.

Tick off a woman teacher? Uh uh.

Besides. Kids now? They have Velcro fasteners. 

A generation of teachers can now concern themselves with more important things, like teaching cursive to generations of students who will never see it.

Velcro and printing. Shoe laces and cursive.