Commentary 17 Apr 2014 05:54 pm
Hillary Clinton has become the latest politician to duck a flying shoe.
She follows in the … uh, footsteps of George W. Bush, Tony Blair and a few others in recent years who have displayed fancy footwork to dodge footwear hurled in anger. Clinton’s run-in occurred at a meeting of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries in Vegas last week when a woman took (bad) aim and fired an orange and black athletic shoe at the former secretary of state.
I have to admit, I don’t know why anybody would want to throw a shoe. I get that it’s considered an insult in some cultures, but that doesn’t change the fact that you’re going to leave the scene of the crime with only one shoe, and likely in the back of a police cruiser, to boot. (Oh, the shoe jokes are easy today, boys and girls.)
I can’t speak for anybody other than myself, but I’ve never — not even when the boss won’t give me a raise or the wife demands I mow the yard — had a burning urge to chuck a shoe in anybody’s direction.
For one thing, I keep my laces tied so tightly that I’d first have to untie them, which would defuse much of my anger, or at the very least redirect it toward the double-knot at my ankles.
Secondly, I still remove my shoes like a 7-year-old, which means that I hop up and down on one leg while extracting the shoe from the opposite foot. I imagine I’d be such a spectacle, bobbing and weaving around a press conference, that security could easily apprehend me before I threw my first pitch. (Clinton’s attacker got around this by keeping an extra shoe in her purse. Not quite sure how she got it past security.)
Thirdly, my feet stink. If I threw a shoe in anybody’s direction, collateral damage would do more harm than the Size 10 projectile ever would. I would probably be charged not only with attempted assault, but with chemical warfare. The headlines alone — “Man Uses Shoe, Mustard Gas To Protest Fracking” and “Shoe-Assailant Rendered Unconscious By His Own Weapon” — would be mortifying.
And finally, shoes are expensive. Maybe Clinton’s would-be assailant found her shoe on sale or picked it up at Goodwill, but I would think protesters could find something less pricey with which to make a stand. Maybe Nerf footballs, those little green army soldiers, or birdies from a badminton set?
But if nothing I’ve said here discourages you from lobbing one or more shoes toward an elected official to protest the plight of the red-cockaded woodpecker or the outsourcing of American jobs (which is kind of ironic when you think of all those little Asian kids sewing themselves blind to make our footwear), here are a few tips:
1. When possible, throw only shoes secured with Velcro. This will make your point stick.
2. If you must throw laced shoes, tie both of them together and twirl over your head like a bola before letting loose. It also helps to scream something unintelligible in a foreign language to make yourself sound more like a ninja, even though bolas are Spanish and ninjas aren’t.
3. Have a spare pair of shoes to help you make a quick getaway or to serve as a plausible cover story if security can’t find you right away. Remember, the person with just one shoe is automatically suspect.
4. Try to be clever. Throw Crocs at politicians speaking at a slow-cooker convention. Throw stilettos during keynote speeches of the American Kennel Club or the American Medical Association. (”Heel!” or “Heal!” — get it?)
5. If protesting some liberal policy that violates your religious or capitalistic principles but brings equality to countless thousands of people (like same-sex marriage or a living wage), be sure to spell out “God have mercy on your S-O-U-L” so as to avoid confusion with the bottom of the object you are about to throw. Mixed messages are bad.
6. And, for the love of all that’s good in the world, use Odor Eaters. Unless you’re protesting poor working conditions at the Odor Eaters plant, in which case, throw baking soda, scream “Powder to the people!” and have a good attorney on speed dial.
Chris Schillig, who can be reached at email@example.com or @cschillig on Twitter, doesn’t really advocate throwing shoes at anybody, least of all politicians. This disclaimer absolves him of any liability should readers do something stupid. Not that they would. But just in case.
Originally published April 17, 2014, in The Alliance Review.