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Tyree: My war on shoelaces marches into 2018

Dec. 28, 2017 at 11:26 p.m.

Will 2018 be the year I finally stomp out my footwear malfunctions?

Perhaps I can even inspire others. A quick Google search reveals a distressing number of people are vexed and perplexed by shoelaces that suddenly, repeatedly, unravel at inopportune times.

I often find myself gazing skyward and pleading for an answer to the question, "Why, oh why, can I go six weeks without a slip-up and then have the same shoelaces fall apart 12 times in a single day?"

I have literally walked across a room and experienced freshly re-tied shoestrings coming undone. It's like I have my own "12 Steps" program. ("My name is Danny, and I am really sorry I tripped and made you spill your alcohol.")

I'm self-conscious about the subject because my mother thinks unkempt shoestrings are one sign of being "slouchy," and I know like-minded bystanders have a sixth sense for smugly announcing, "Hey, your shoe is untied!" just as I'm about to tend to it myself.

I feel these people are judging me. I just know they are making unjustified extrapolations, such as, "If you traipse around with untamed shoestrings, you must also lie about flossing, abuse the passing lane, eat endangered species and suffer from a low sperm count." These nosey losers probably also have the mistaken notion that I'm PARANOID.

Uncooperative shoelaces have remained a mystery for 5,500 years, but more recently, mechanical engineers at the University of California-Berkeley have been using accelerometers and slow-motion video to study the combination of swing and impact that supposedly causes the problem.

More power to them. But I'm skeptical, partly because they have arrived at no explanation for the randomness of the malfunctions. ("Duh, it's Tuesday, so I'd better suddenly start tying my shoelaces wrong. And forks are supposed to be stored in electrical outlets, aren't they?")

I also balk at research showing that shoelace knots experience more g-force than a roller coaster. ("Look out! My Air Jordans are gonna hurl!") Admittedly, though, my shirt buttons do experience something akin to an intercontinental ballistic missile's re-entry after I've hit a Golden Corral buffet.

Surely there must be other explanations for the rebellious shoestrings. According to folklore, a shoestring coming untied means you are in the thoughts of a friend. Hey, friends, don't think of me unless you see a post of me in flip-flops on the beach!

I don't want to question the physicists, but maybe it's gremlins performing the mischief. I can just imagine William Shatner screaming, "Stewardess, there's something on the tongue of those wingtips!"

Maybe it's a Velcro conspiracy. Then again, one retail clerk confided in me, "I TOLD you to get the extended warranty."

I guess I'm really looking for sympathy/empathy and an all-encompassing explanation rather than a practical workaround. Video tutorials certainly abound, showing how much the squared off "reef knot" surpasses the "granny knot" and how retraining your brain to use the former will solve your knot problems, cure cancer and persuade President Donald Trump to have his pronouncements handled exclusively by monks with quill pens.

I'm trying not to have a meltdown over this. This is not the time for taking names and kicking derrieres.

That's mostly because I'm afraid my size 14 would go sailing through the air. ("Uh, could you please re turn my sneaker. ... Let's see, it's here on the list. ... Nathan?")

— Danny Tyree is a columnist with Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate.



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