Dad’s Wood Sandals
At his usual relaxed pace, my brother passes by Dad’s favorite chair. Destination: The television. Purpose: To change the channel. Objective . . . one swift kick, like that of a skilled soccer player, to the sandal on the bottom. Mission accomplished: Son, 1 – Father, 0. (Yet once again.)
“Why do you call me a rascal, Dad? What did I do?” My brother Süleyman snickers.
The first-born’s demolition of the father’s sandal-based footstool officially takes place.
The once barely-there grin turns into a broad smile on my brother’s handsome face. Mom and I cannot help but side with the winner. Dad plays his usual role and chastises my brother. Our conspiring threesome laughter spans over our living room like a thick cloud. “Hınzır oğlan!” Dad announces again. My brother cannot hold back his gut-laughs any longer. Proud of his repeated success, he practically hits the floor laughing. Mom and I, though with a bit more tact, are ready and willing to join him. Dad gives us a make-belief angry look at first, but joins in the fun soon after.
“Baba, you know that I am going to get you each time. So, why do you still keep towering your sandals?”
“Oğlum, my feet feel really good like this. I am very comfortable. Besides, it’s great for circulation. If you sit for a long period of time, your . . .”
Before Dad finishes his sentence, my brother is already out the door. He knows too well what’s coming up. Mom and I know it too: a set of mini-lectures by Dad about the health benefits of lifting up one’s legs during prolonged sitting-sessions. While the first-born begins to have the time of his life again with his basketball buddies just around the corner of our apartment building, Mom and I, the members of Dad’s captive audience, stay put – awaiting our doom. After one more of his pretend-angry “Hınzır oğlan!” outbursts, Dad talks on. But first, poised, he puts his sandals back into their original cooperative state: one on top of the other, each tucking in one foot in an envy-raising tenderness.
“I got these in Germany during my first stay there. Prof. Lemerz told me then how wood was the healthiest way to go as far as footwear. He was an intelligent man in every which way. I learned so much from him. He always said to me that our care for our health must start with our feet. In spring, summer and autumn, he would wear open shoes only. Inside and outside. In winter, only wood sandals inside.”
Mom and I knew what the mere mention of Dad’s doctoral advisor’s name was going to cost us: an onslaught of many more assorted anecdotes. We just had to escape without hurting Dad’s feelings. Just at that moment, our kitchen made an announcement: dinner preparations were in order. Thankfully, Dad was not paying any attention to who remained as his audience . . .
By the way, did I mention that Dad absolutely loved everything “Made in Germany”? His totally worn-out wooden sandals, in particular.
Süleyman is a popular male name in Turkey. Historical context: Süleyman the Magnificent, Süleyman I or the Lawgiver (1494/1495-1566), Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1520 to 1566.
Hınzır oğlan: Rascal
Baba means “Dad” in Turkish.
Oğlum: My son