Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Other Shoe

An old phrase has been going through The Complete and Total Loser's head since a few days after his mother's death three weeks ago: Waiting for the other shoe to drop.
The phrase is not that old. It's not from the Bible, Chaucer or Shakespeare. It seems more likely, according to the Loser's lazy Internet research, to be from the Vaudeville era and from a boarding house story in which a man drops one shoe noisily, waking his sleep companions, who then brace for the sound of the other shoe. The sound never comes as the man realized the impact of the first so he removes the second shoe with care and puts it quietly on the floor. Time passes. Finally, an irate neighbor shouts for the man to drop the other shoe and get the noise over with.
Earlier this evening the Loser got a phone call from the suburbs from a kind neighbor. His father, age 91 and alone for the first time had fallen. Not too serious, it turns out (he called for an ambulance himself), but he'll stay in a hospital overnight. He's taking medication for shingles and other things and not eating as well as he should. 
The Loser, after consulting with his brothers about their father's condition, will go to the house after work tomorrow and spend the night. It looks now like the Loser will move in to the house sooner rather than later unless his father rebounds enough from his grief to eat right.
The phrase refers to waiting for the inevitable, waiting to get something unpleasant over with so one can continue as before. It's a cheery phrase because it implies that the unpleasant thing will happen fast, like ripping off a Band Aid. This is inaccurate, however. The dropping of that second shoe won't happen fast. It will descend toward the grimy boarding house floor as if falling through syrup, yet it will, despite its slow speed, make a jarring bang when it hits.

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