Here I am hunting and pecking this complaint because my pinky finger is cut and turning purple with every keystroke. I’m still bleeding intermittently all over my keyboard. Moments ago, I bled all over our new bedspread. Dried blood comes out easily, right?

All Condition Gear
It all started when I bought a pair of Nike’s new All Condition Gear (ACG) shoes. These are tough shoes for hiking or walking and running in the forest or along boulders or in trickling mountain streams. At least that’s what their television Ads suggest.

Anyway, I didn’t want to go hiking with these new shoes. I just wanted to wear them in Big, Bad, New York City where the streets and pavement live to eat the soul off your soles and shed the heel off your heels. Shoes don’t last long in New York City and if you want to spend your money wisely, you buy hardy shoes with thick soles that will wear a long time.

The Nike ACG shoe seemed a perfect fit for my needs. My wife bought me a $90.00 pair of chocolate brown ACGs at the local Footlocker. I threw away the box at the store. The Footlocker salesman urged me to do that since the shoes felt so comfortable in the store, “Why bother lugging home a big box?” I wore my ACGs home and that began my bloody debacle.

After a day of wearing the shoes, my Achilles’ tendons were sore on both legs and the skin had rubbed off all around my ankle area where the ACGs had rubbed! I’d never felt more comfortable shoes while standing still. Moving, however, caused considerable pain.

I called the Footlocker, explained my exasperation and situation and they told they WOULD NOT take my Nike ACGs back because… I didn’t save the box even though I still had my receipt! The salesman who urged me to leave my box in the store “No longer works here.”


$90 down the drain!

Ah, but being the man I am, I decided to take matters in my own hands and re-design the shape of the ACG so they wouldn’t rub so hard against my skin and Achilles’ tendons. That would at least let me try to save the shoes for actual wearing while killing the source of my pain.

Man on a Mission
Enter: The Leatherman!

Man’s best friend is not the dog, the cat, or the can of beer. Man’s Best Friend is… The Leatherman! This special utility unfolds and re-folds while it plies, crimps, screws, files, cuts, saws and (if you’re creative) hammers! Hours can be spent simply re-configuring The Leatherman in preparation of undiscovered tasks.

I felt a hard, plastic tab poking out from beneath the ACG padding near the back of the heel where the nylon pull-tab stood. That must be the source of my soreness, I reckoned!

I decided that, like my tennis shoes, these ACGs needed to have an “Achilles’ tendon cutout” where the emptiness in the middle of a “v” appears in the upper heel padding of a shoe in order to give my tendon room to action. A couple of quick cuts later with my Leatherman and both shoes had a great cutout where the pull-tabs used to be. The ACGs were like butter in the serrated edge of my Leatherman.

I went for another walk to test the success of my surgery.


More pain than before!

I ran home to discover that the rest of the ACG upper had rubbed even more flesh off my leg!

Re-Enter: The Leatherman!

I sat on the bed to give myself plenty of room of the next operation. I decided the top of the Nike ACGs had to be lowered to the break of my ankle to give my foot full motion. It was obvious the ACG style is meant to hug the leg, but that very hugging is what rips the flesh off your body! The ACG is terrible in style and manufacture. A thicker, fluffier upper ankle enclosure would solve the missing flesh problem and one must wonder why Nike didn’t smarten up on this matter before blood was shed.

I jammed my Leatherman into the back of the ACG and made a gentle cut around the back of one shoe using the top of the Nike logo on the side of the shoe as the new “top line” of my cut-down shoe. The first shoe surgery went wonderfully well. White stuffing and rubber was now exposed to the elements, but, I told myself, this is New York and I’ll be setting a new trend and I wouldn’t look like some dumb Bohunk from Nebraska who took a knife to his shoes so they wouldn’t rub his legs!

The second shoe was trickier. Bravado played a role. The ease of the first shoe surgery went to my head. As I pulled the Leatherman between the eyelets of my second shoe, my wife entered the bedroom and asked what I was doing on her new bedspread and… ZAZSH!

My Leatherman betrayed me as it ripped from the ACG eyelet and dug deeply into my left pinky. The blade did a complete circle as it hit the bone. My skin was gouged. The bedspread was turning red. My finger was a flowing fountain of blood.

My wife stood there, horrified. Through screams she said, “Look what you’ve done to my new bedspread!” She rushed to wipe off the drooling blood. She only drove my cells deeper into the fibers of the spread. As I held my finger above my head and squeezed it mightily to stay the ribbon of red, all I could say was, “I can clean it up!”

Then, the shoe really hit the fan when she said, “And what did you do to your new shoes?!! Those cost nearly a hundred dollars and they’re shredded and bloodstained!”

I did my best to slink past her and hide in the bathroom where I used a styptic pencil on my bleeding finger. My wife followed me into the bathroom, and she did a very keen thing. She didn’t make me bleed in new places yet undiscovered. She was kind. And sympathetic. And helpful.

How did she know that being the adult in the situation of a toddler would be even more painful and more humiliating than if she lowered herself to my impish level and verbally let me have it? She must have some kind of internal compass that gives her precise directions in times of fear and dribbling blood. I love her for kindness but at that moment, a little yelling actually would’ve helped take my mind off the pool of blood growing in the sink.

I had to throw away my ACGs. After my wife went to work, I discovered the ACGs, bloody and ragged, didn’t fit any longer after my Leatherman re-design. The shoes now slipped in the heel! My best plans were burning before me: $90.00 became leather and rubber ash in my hands. I had become Homer Simpson.

My beautiful wife then found me a pair of Timberland “all terrain” Performance shoes on sale at Macy’s. The Timberlands are rather smart: They ride high on the ankle, but low on the Achilles’ tendon. The Timeberlands have a sturdy lug sole, nice leather outers and keen laces. I like ’em even though they pinch my big left toe a bit when I walk. Oh, don’t worry, I’ll tough out the wear-in period without doing any alterations. Believe me when I say I learned my Leatherman lesson the hard way.

Don’t let this experience concern you in any way. I am fine. My finger will heal. I promised to somehow get my wife an even better and more beautiful bedspread to replace the one I ruined.

Men should never be afraid of experimentation or of inventing better ways of living. This sort of “don’t ask for directions” and “don’t tell me what I don’t know” philosophy has gotten us this far and while we may bleed a bit in the process, who can deny that our perseverance in the face of stupidity hasn’t helped make the makers of Band-Aids and Bactine billionaires?

You know I can feel a small bump inside my new Timberlands where my big left toe rubs? If I could only find where my wife hid my Leatherman, I could use its awl and smooth out the bump down there… just a little…