Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Aiglets, Eyelets, and The Rest of the Lengthy Lace

There are still some things in the world that haven't warranted great improvement, and have not been replaced with newer inventions. I'm sure you can name a few. What immediately comes to my mind are shoelaces. Shoelaces, the bane of every kindergarten teacher's existence. Shoelaces, the things little children struggle with on their hockey and figure skates. Shoelaces, such a simple design, pieces of fabric woven into long strips, tipped with the clever but equally aggravating aiglet.

Shoelaces have no doubt looked very similar since they first originated. Oh sure, they've become fancier in pattern and colour, but nonetheless, shoelaces are shoelaces.

I remember a lot of shoelace adventures from when I was a kid. Besides the fact that my shoes were generally ugly, brown, and laced, there were the other issues involved with sporting such shoes.
 Back then, when we owned a pair of shoes, we owned a pair of shoes. The shoes would generally outlast the laces. We'd get the shoes resoled, as long as they fit, and the toes didn't protrude. Oddly, I have a vague memory of some people back then walking around with portions of their shoe soles separating, often in the toe area...a rarity nowadays.

Then, there were the laces. When that tell-tale weakened, and thinned portion of the lace began to unravel, we knew it was time to prepare for the worst. If they broke at school, you'd invariably be forced to tie a knot in the broken lace to tide you over until such time as it could be replaced. The lace then needed adjusting so that the knot fit between and not atop the eyelet holes or that would create a whole different problem.

The aiglets were another issue...that lovely little piece of metal, later plastic, at the tips of the laces. The aiglet would often disintegrate, sometimes with the help of our ***fingers, leaving a frayed shoelace tip. This would require spitting and twirling a now soggy end to create a point and get it to thread through the eyelet. If you were very lucky, it would all go through. At home, mom would trim the end to make the frays more even, but that didn't help the situation much since there was no longer a point for threading. Instead,  the spittle would just cause a large drooping mass of lace parts that would barely fit through something as large as a donut hole.  Hadn't scotch tape been invented yet? If you were lucky, a portion of lace might feed through the eyelet leaving the rest of the threads to dangle vicariously and fend for themselves. This would soon after become part of aforementioned breakage requiring a knot.

So this brings me to a question. When was the last time you changed a pair of shoelaces? Of course, many shoes don't require them any more, but there are still the athletic shoes, and some dressier footwear, and the latest styles of ladies' shoes.

It's unlikely though, that as an adult, you have changed any laces in any shoes in at least the last ten years. If you're a senior, you may have removed a pair and replaced them with the nifty-difty elasticized laces which never require untying or retying.

Whether we like it or not, whether we agree with it or not, we live in a disposable society. Things have changed. Laces just don't get replaced with the regularity they used to. 

In this day an age, we all own several pairs of shoes for a variety of different purposes. They rarely wear out before we're tired of them, outgrow them, or give them away. This goes for the ones with laces as well any other styles. Yes, there are still a few shoemakers around, but people with that skill and those searching for someone with that talent are few and far between. We rather tend to toss out, or hopefully, recycle.

So, when I recently came across this stash which seems to have taken up residence in our house, I had to think. When was the last time anyone changed shoelaces? What would I do with all these laces?  Should I keep them along with the myriads of other "stuff" just in case of a world wide shoelace shortage? 

I asked hubby to have a look before I tossed them. Clearly horrified at the thought, he sought out shoes and frantically replaced their laces, The pile immediately decreased by half.  I laughed. Now I know exactly when the last time was someone changed laces in our house.
***Methinks the aiglets were the bubble wrap fun of the 50's.

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