Yes, that trunk - the trunk of my previously written about 1984 Honda Prelude (R.I.P.). At some point back when I was still driving the car on a regular basis, I changed out of a pair of dress shoes into running shoes and the dress shoes ended up staying in the trunk. They weren't originally forgotten... I think I just left them in there thinking that they might come in handy some time if I needed to dress up while out on the road somewhere. But after a few years, they were very much forgotten and they didn't resurface until I completely cleaned out the trunk just before paying to have my old Prelude friend scrapped (such is the fate of old cars in Japan - they don't go into garages, they go to the scrap yard to be shredded).
Looking the newly resurfaced shoes over, they seemed to be in reasonably good condition and when I tried them on, they fit comfortably enough and looked okay, so I put them in the shoe closet by the door and determined to use them again in the near future. That near future came today, so I put them on and - looking at my watch and seeing I was running late - I ran to the station, contemplating how strange it was to be wearing shoes that I had last worn some nine years ago. Once on the first of two trains into central Tokyo, I forgot about the shoes and looked out the window - thinking of something or other... until I noticed a man standing next to me looking at my feet. I looked at his feet and saw a pair of shiny black shoes... "Hmm? Is he happily noticing that his shiny black shoes are newer than my older dull-brown shoes? What's up?", thought I, but once off the train, I again forgot about the shoes.
On the next train, I was able to sit down, so I read the Japanese version of Botchan half way into town and the National Geographic for the remaining half. Standing up at my station, I walked to the door, and as I waited for the train to stop, I looked down and noticed that there was something sticking out from the side of my right shoe... "What the...?", thought I as I lifted up my right foot and tilted it sideways - "!!!!! Wow! Look at that!!!", I thought as I saw that the heel was disintegrating and bits of rubber were coming out the sides! Same thing with the other shoe! I walked off the train, suddenly feeling a bit like a character in a comedy movie with bits of rubber falling from my shoes with every step! Seriously!
>From there I went to work and was horrified to see that the rubber leakage was getting worse - I was leaking so much rubber on the carpet, that I couldn't pretend nothing was happening, and so I had no choice but to apologize to people at the company for making a mess and then make the best joke I could of it - "This is like a comedy movie or a comic book story! Ho-ho-ho!", etc.
Work eventually ended and I headed for the station - trailing rubber all the way. By the time I got to my transfer station, the heels and front section of the right shoe had come off and it was painful walking on only the middle section of remaining rubber, so I stomped and scrapped my feet a little to knock off the middle section. Once that was done, the height of the two shoes was different, so I stomped and scrapped my left foot a bit to knock the remaining chunks of rubber from that side off. As I walked home, more bits fell off, and by the time I got home, I was wearing moccasins.
The moral of the story? If you find an old pair of leather shoes that has been sleeping in a car trunk for nine years; bury them in a deep hole, put them in the trash, put them in a glass case, whatever - just don't ride the trains into the center of Tokyo with them on your feet.
Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon