How big? “He needs them for his honor guard uniform,” one of the four firemen explained. All were in their early to late twenties. One carried the tiny iPod device that was being used to update information about our store. I mentioned that I live upstairs.
“That’s important,” said the lone black fireman. With a tiny pointer, he marked a specific box, then found SAVE.
“That’s it?” I wanted to ask, but didn’t. I didn’t want them to ask for a tour of my just-completed apartment upstairs. My store was too busy.
“You have a pair of shoes for him?” asked one of the white firemen. He was about my size, almost a foot shorter than the young black fireman who had reviewed my personal data.
“Size 16,” he volunteered. The youngest white firemen giggled. That didn’t bother the black man at all. It was easy to tell that they enjoyed picking on each other; also, I knew they thought that the real joke was on me. They knew I couldn’t possibly have such a shoe.
But I did. “Try this one,” I insisted. In a box big enough for a set of truck tire chains was a size 16 EE, a dress oxford shoe, exactly what they needed.
All the chatter and joking stopped. To their amazement, the white firemen watched as their black buddy slipped into his 16 wide right shoe as easily as an oversized Cinderella.
“Perfect fit,” he said, without a hint of humor.
“Please hold them for us,” said the young white man who had started the conversation.
“I will,” I said, as I waved goodbye. I didn’t tell them I was as shocked as they were. Indeed, I couldn’t remember how long I’d looked at those huge shoes and wondered whether they would ever be sold.
“Meant to be,” I told myself, thankful I’d acquired that convenient epithet for just about anything I couldn’t have expected. That’s when I glanced at the newspaper, our shrinking daily that I hadn’t had time to read.
On the sports page, there was very good news. Our own David Wilson, a Virginia Tech star who’d been drafted by the N. Y. Giants of the NFL, had performed like an All Star against the New Orleans Saints. He’d set a record that no one else had ever made!
I felt like cheering. Years before, I’d joined David’s parents to watch David play against Duke University in a Tech victory during David’s freshman year. The three of us spent much of the game discussing David’s future with Tech because he was allowed so little time on the playing field. We knew how good he was. Why didn’t his coaches?
That eventually changed. Some sports writers mentioned David as a Heissman candidate in his junior year. Then he ran like a Harley in a ten-speed bike race.
That’s why I wasn’t surprised to see him at my store the day before the professional draft was to be televised on CNN, the network that was flying David to their show that featured first round choices. David needed something to wear for the occasion.
“I’ll take these,” he said. His eyes twinkled; they matched his mirthful grin.
The pants, the ones he wore on national TV when he was drafted near the end of the first round, were pink. Bright pink a prankster might wear after doing a backflip following an NFL touchdown on Sunday.
That’s what David did. According to David Vacchiano of the New York Daily News, our David Wilson’s performance was unprecedented. How unprecedented? Take a look:
Wilson set a franchise record with 327 all-purpose yards and became the first player in NFL history with 200 kick return yards and 100 rushing yards in the same game. He also was just the fourth player in league history with two rushing touchdowns and a kickoff return touchdown in the same game.
Cheering for David is something I’ve been doing for years. But, now that his pink pants have caught everyone’s attention, it may be time for me to suggest that David shift into something even more catchy, a color that suggests something bigger, even brighter.
Bright red next time, David?
B. Koplen 12/12/12
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