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Laura Kessel is managing editor of The News-Herald in Willoughby. She writes a weekly column and shares her thoughts here.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Shoes' remarkable power to leave me feeling all wet

You’ll probably think I’m pulling your leg.

But, I have plenty of proof on my side. Plenty of soaking wet proof.

Let me start by going back two years, to a graduation party at my boss’ house.

It was a warm day, but a little overcast.

As is my habit in summer, I headed over there wearing a pair of flip-flops.

As the party went on, it got cloudier and a little bit darker. Then, the clouds opened and dumped what seemed like a summer’s worth of rain on my boss’ neighborhood. It really wasn’t the disaster it could have been, because the party was beginning to wind down, so guests headed for their cars and her family went inside for cover.

No big deal, right? It’s summer in Ohio ... rain falls all the time.

Fast forward to early June and another graduation party at her house.

It was cloudy all day. I said over and over that I hoped the rain would hold off until after her party.

As I was heading out the door, I weighed which flip-flops to wear. One pair was a little uncomfortable, and the others were either too casual, or had heels that were too high.

So, I reached for the black Born pair, and chuckled as I put them on, remembering that the last time I wore them to her house, I ended up running through puddles on my way to the car.

About a half-hour after we arrived, the clouds opened up, this time dumping about two summers’ worth of rain on her neighborhood.

It washed away the grass seed her husband had planted the day before, and winds knocked over a canopy in the back yard. The storm pushed everyone into the house or the garage for cover.

As we stood around watching the rain puddle and drain into the street, I looked down and decided my shoes were a jinx.

Light-hearted teasing followed the revelation, as I wondered how long it would take my shoes to dry out so I could likely prompt another rainstorm somewhere down the line.

I waited about a month before I put them on again, mostly because I bought a new pair a few days after Deluge No. 2, so I could keep up my flip-flop routine.

Because they’ve always been good walking shoes, I decided they’d be perfect for the Mardi Gras parade in Fairport Harbor.

I’ve been lucky enough to have served as a judge for the parade and the queen contest for the past three years, and because this parade is so huge — in terms of geography and participation — it requires a lot of walking to move between the various sites.

The first walk was longer than expected because of my inattentiveness. Rather than walk west from the St. Anthony of Padua parking lot to High Street, we turned right and went east. A police officer laughed when we asked how to get to High from the intersection of Sixth and East.

“Just keep walking that way,” he said, pointing over our heads in the opposite direction in a way that indicated it was a long walk.

It was. And, as I started walking along, my feet started to hurt. Then they started to burn.
A block in to a four-street walk, I realized I was getting blisters on both feet.

After another block, I took off the shoes and walked in the grass along the route to High Street. Once inside the Hungarian Culture Club to meet up with my fellow judges, I realized the blisters were both about silver-dollar size.

The shoes stayed off as long as possible. Whenever they went back on, I walked on my heels, appearing a bit crippled as I made my way around the Huntington Park area.

Then, about 8:45, it happened.

I had thought the skies were darkening because it was getting later in the evening.
Oh, nooooooooo!

Out of nowhere, the rain started falling. And it didn’t even bother with the drizzle that usually allows you plenty of time to get to shelter.

Oh, nooooooooo!

This was full-on deluge that caused Painesville Municipal Court Judge Mike Cicconetti to throw down the microphone he was holding for fear of electrocution.

And, as I finally ambled over to the fire station that sits behind the parade’s reviewing stand, I kicked off my shoes for comfort.

Looking down, I realized they’d done it again!

This time, they cut short a parade. And, because they turned on me with such force as to cause massive blisters, I have decreed that they’ve made their last appearance.

I was lucky enough to be able to walk through wet grass on the way to the gazebo in Huntington Park to meet eight gorgeous young ladies who were vying for the Mardi Gras queen title.

As I read through their bios, I put the pain and complaints about soaked clothing out of my head, replaced by amazement at such academic prowess and dedication to volunteerism. These young ladies have dreams of careers in such fields as politics, medicine and teaching. They’ve served on anti-bullying boards, worked in church missions and fed the homeless.

I wish they could all have won the title of 2013 Mardi Gras Queen. In my eyes, they’re all royalty.

Congratulations to Emily Cox (Madison), Dominique Fatica (Mentor), Laura Kness (Lake Catholic), Kayla Langhoff (Fairport Harding), Lin Miao (Willoughby South), Lauren Riddle (Harvey), Hannah Somich (winner of the crown, from Perry High,) and Mikella Torre (Riverside).

As I limped toward my car after the ceremony, I was grateful I’d made it through the entire evening, which at first seemed doubtful. I was even more happy I didn’t have to run into the fire department for treatment.

But, more than any of those emotions, I was happy to have again been part of an event that celebrates the best of Fairport Harbor and gives it a chance to show off the assets that make it such a friendly place.

The Mardi Gras goes on through Sunday in Fairport, with fireworks at dusk on Sunday night. For more information, go
Twitter: @Lauranh


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