Friday, April 28, 2006

A Blackspot Birth

My wife gave me new shoes on the day our baby girl was born. It was also my twenty-eighth birthday.

"Open your presents," she said between contractions. She's a show off, my wife.

In short, my daughter was born the same day I was, the same day I opened my Blackspot shoes.

Adbusters, the organization that makes the shoes, claims that they are "one of the world's most environmentally friendly shoes." The organic hemp fabric fits the contour of my foot snugly. The recycled tire soles are firm. They don't bounce and cushion like the gel-filled shoes I wear to run or walk long distances. I wear the Blackspots to work. I pedal in them down Dunlavy. Last week, another bicyclist called to me.

"Are those Blackspots?" he said. He had some on too. "You're the only other person I've seen wear them," he said. Now we greet each other whenever we pass. Maybe we'll have lunch. Become friends.

It's fitting that my wife gave me the shoes on the day our girl was born. Like our baby, the Blackspots were made by a union. That is, a unionized factory in Portugal that operates with decent labor conditions. Neither the shoes, nor our baby, were made by a corporation that maximizes profit at the expense of human well-being. Also like our baby, the Blackspots are vegetarian. No leather. My Blackspots seem to be growing too. The loose ends of the thread running down the center seam are fraying, getting longer by the day, like our baby's astonishing hair.

As a final comparison, note that in my family's culture we put a black spot on a baby's face to keep away bad luck. The black spot, or najar as we call it, is meant as a mark of imperfection so that evil spirits do not linger around those we love.

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