I tried to put it back. This just wasn’t my type of thing. Plus, it was a whole two dollars. But when I turned it over and discovered its real purpose, I wondered how no one had snatched this treasure before I happened by. Clearly, whoever donated it thought it was too hot. I felt terribly lucky.
Clutching my prize I made my way to the register, and returned home to burst in our back door. Bob was sitting at his desk.
“Look what I found at the PTA!”
Hoping for some enthusiasm, I pressed the tiny shoe into his hand. He turned it upside down, saw its potential and smiled. The zebra-striped rhinestone-studded shoe with the killer heel was a bottle opener.
Bob seeds our refrigerator with beer for the neighbors, same as he fills the bird feeders. If you want your friends to come over, you stock their favorite beer. Everyone knows the bottle opener lives in the drawer next to the refrigerator. We decided to put the new opener on the counter above the drawer and see what happened.
“Who do you think will be the first to use it?” I asked.
“I’m betting on Tami. You know how she loves shoes.”
I knew that she and Lyle were coming over the next evening for a meeting. I naively believed the first person to walk in our house would discover the new bottle opener. It was such an unlikely object, quite out of character for our kitchen.
But neither Tami nor Lyle noticed the shoe. The next day Jason stopped in and reached in the drawer for the old opener, despite the giant exclamation point on the counter. Weeks went by and no one mentioned the glittering, zebra-striped shoe sitting beside the refrigerator. We couldn’t understand why something so extraordinary was overlooked by everyone. It was as if it were invisible, something only Bob and I could see.
Years ago I listened to a presentation about reality and observation. The audience was invited to place a hand over their watch and describe it. Very few recalled the color of the bezel, face, or hands, yet they glanced at it continually through the day. The point was made. We glance at our watches for the time, and all else goes unseen. You only see what you’re looking for. Or, as my friend Hannah says. “We live in the world we manifest.”
Case in point: the presidential debates. I’m astonished at how there can be two clear winners depending on where you stand. What happened to objectivity? Everyone sees what they’re looking for and nothing more.
But, back to the shoe. Desperate, I moved it to the center of the counter. Andy was coming over for a drink and I was counting on his superior powers of observation. He walked in, put a six-pack in the fridge, pulled one out and cavalierly opened it with his wedding ring. Dang.
Lyle arrived half an hour later and went to the fridge. I sucked in my breath when he picked up the shoe.
“What is this?” He asked, turning it over.
“Oh, it’s a bottle opener!” he chortled.
I was jumping up and down, my hands drawn up in little balls under my chin.
“Do I get a point?”
“Yes! You were the first person to see the invisible shoe!”
It made my week when someone finally picked that thing up and saw it for what it was. Thank you, Lyle for noticing my little trinket. What a comfort when someone else notices the obvious. You’ve made me feel a little less crazy in these nutty pre-election times.