Mihiretu, like the rest of the family, has a thing for shoes. He, unlike, say, me, prefers his shoes fast.
For a good month now, Mihiretu has been fixated on acquiring a pair of Crocs. Red Crocs. Because I don't want him wearing Crocs in the rain, I've been telling him that stores don't sell Crocs until the warm weather comes. True, at least partially, if we're talking brick-and-mortar, not so true if we're talking the world wide web.
Yesterday I was online searching for a new pair of sneakers for Lana (the old ones, which are thrashed but still fit, suddenly felt "weird" so Ben cut out the offending tag on the tongue but now they feel "weirder") when Mihiretu twirled into the office. When he saw shoes up on the screen, he saw his opening.
"Cocs!" he shouted. "Wed Cocs!"
Ben, who was perusing his computer across the desk, opened the Crocs page. Soon he had found a pair that had an adjustable strap in the back - much better for running. He showed them to Mihiretu.
"Dey fas?" He eyed the shoes doubtfully.
"Oh, yeah," said Ben. "These babies are fast."
"Baby?" Mihiretu asked, tilting his head in confusion.
"No babies." Ben said. "They're fast."
And so the fast shoes were ordered. Little did we know that was only the beginning of the conversation.
Every half-hour for the last two days, Mihiretu has said, "When my fas shoes come? Afa sool?"
To which we've answered, "Yes, honey. They'll probably come after school. In a few days."
When he's upset, the fast shoes are his default cause of misery. "I wan my fas shoes!" he'll bellow, tears streaming down his face, even if the problem really lies with Ben not relinquishing the last Hot Tamale in the box.
Yesterday afternoon, Mihiretu accompanied me to the video store. On our way out he spied the shoe store next door. He pulled me inside. I pointed him towards the kid's shoes, assuring him that while he could look we weren't buying a pair today.
He found a pair of Keens, a much better fast shoe, truth be told, than the Crocs. Remembering a heavily discounted pair of Keens I had spotted on a website, I agreed to let him try them on, to get the correct fit on the sly. Bad non-local-buying mommy.
His foot was measured and placed in the shoe. He surveyed it for a moment.
"Dis fas?" he asked the salesperson.
The guy looked at me helplessly.
"Oh yeah," I said. "Those are REALLY fast."
"I go ow-si?" he asked, his eyes sparkling with half hope, half mischief.
"Oh, well, no, we can't take them outside unless we own them," I said. "But you could run in here and try them out."
He read my face to make sure I wasn't pulling his leg - generally I discourage running indoors. When he saw that I was earnest, he tore around the small store, a new shoe on one foot, an old shoe on the other, the graying lady browsing walking shoes wedging herself against the display to avoid being run over.
"Dees fas!" he declared, a bit out of breath.
Somehow I managed to get him out of the store, telling him (and, effectively, the salesman) that because they were so expensive we'd have to check in with Dad.
I checked the sale website when I got home and, sadly, the Keens in his size were sold out. We focused again on the Crocs that were coming his way.
He woke this morning groggily inquiring after his fast shoes. "Afa sool?" he asked, half-awake.
Again, snuggling in with him under his covers, I said that they'd probably arrive later in the week.
As the morning unfolded and Mihiretu and Lana got into their usual push and pull, he started yelling about his fast shoes, demanding that they arrive that instant. To which Ben picked up the phone.
"Who are you calling?" I asked, disentangling Lana from Mihiretu.
"1-800-FAST-SHOES", he said, putting the phone to his ear without dialing.
"Hi," he said. "I'm calling about Mihiretu Capron's fast shoes?"
"You better spell that," I said.
"M-I-H-I-R-E-T-U?" Ben said, loudly. "C-A-P-R-O-N? No, N as in Nancy."
Lana and Mihiretu had forgotten their fight. Mae, half-way through a bowl of cereal, set her spoon down.
"Oh, you drive the truck? You have Mihiretu's fast shoes right there?"
He put his hand on the receiver and stage-whispered "I'm talking to the driver!"
"Salt Lake City?" he said, again speaking into the phone.
"That's a long way away," I said, wiping down the counter.
"May I ask your name? Bill? Well, hi, Bill, I'm Ben. We're wondering if you have any idea when the fast shoes might arrive."
He paused, his body at attention.
"Oh, no, no offense meant, Bill. I'm sure you're getting them here as fast as you can. A few days, you say?"
"He might run into snow going over the Sierras," I said, remembering the five to seven working day window I'd been given on the website.
"Oh, yeah, there might be snow? That'd make it more like Friday?"
"Tha too long!" Mihiretu bellowed in anguish.
"Well, that was Mihiretu, Bill. You won't bring fast shoes to kids that yell? Only to kids that behave themselves? I can certainly understand that, Bill. We really do appreciate the work you're doing."
Ben's forehead furrowed in anxiety. This Bill was a hard man to placate.
"And you know when kids are being helpful? And when they're not? You won't bring fast shoes to kids that aren't being nice?"
I guess what they say about the UPS man being the brown santa is true in more ways than I imagined.
By the time Ben got off the phone with Bill, it was clear to the whole family that we better watch what we said about shoe delivery, not only the fast shoes but also Lana's sneakers and Mae's flip-flops which comprised the rest of our order.
Later, when Mihiretu was in a tizzy about having to put his socks on for school, he landed, once more, on his fast shoe complaint.
"Wha abou my fas-" he began. Then remembering how sensitive Bill was to criticism, he closed his mouth with a bang of teeth. I was then allowed to put on his socks.