Reader picks up gauntlet from Cole

A couple weeks ago, a reader challenged me to write a column tying together a shoe sale, a snake and a straw. So I did. Then I threw down the gauntlet for other readers.

Lo, behold and happy week off, Amy Johnson, a mother of five from Farmdale, did. And she adds class to this space by writing in verse.

Take it away, Amy!

I was 8 years old, ’bout third grade, you see,

When I walked in the store that day.

My Mom was ho-hum

But I was a-thrum

Anticipation held all out at bay,

You see

Anticipation being held all at bay.

(For you can’t very well

As a kid just let tell

of the thrill that is buying new shoes;

They make you jump higher, look cooler, run faster

If you’re shy, bring you outta your shell,


If you’re shy bring you outta your shell.)

So I sauntered real cool

As I eyed up the stool

Where decisions’d be made that would count

Like a beacon of light

The stool shone all aright

My innards a veritable fount,

Say I

Of excitement a veritable fount.

Too excited to talk

Real deliberate I walked

To the shoes that lined new on the wall

That’s when he came in

Kinda tall, kinda thin

Glasses and ponytail donned, I recall

That’s right

A gray ponytail donned, I recall.

“Can I help you?” he asked

With a smirk that was masked

‘Neath a straw that he held ‘tween his lips

He chewed it all ’round

It made nary a sound

His words were sarcastic and quipped

They were

Words that sounded sarcastic and quipped.

So onward I went

Tentative though not spent

From my search for the perfect new shoes

Saw a blue and white pair

On their own little stair

Couldn’t wait to see what they could do

Oh man!

Couldn’t wait to see what they could do.

But this salesman, this guy

No matter how hard I tried

Wouldn’t let me get outta my head

Condescending and mean

In his eye a deep gleam

That said, “Don’t make a mistake, little girl”

It did

Say, “Don’t make a mistake, little girl.”

How dare he, this guy,

Come in here and try

To thwart the bliss of my getting new shoes!

Did he not think

That his straw, smirk, and wink

Were the bane of a kid’s ability to choose?

Why not

Know you’re the bane of a kid trying to choose?

Well I’m happy to say

That I bought shoes that day

In spite of that guy at the store.

(They were a bright white

With blue stripes that were light

I still remember the feel, what is more!

That’s right

Still remember their feel, what is more.)

So, grownups, please know

As the young ones who grow

In your presence are trying things out

Don’t make them feel small

Condescend them at all

Or arrogantly throw ’round your clout

Please don’t

Take advantage of all your (old) clout.

Else they’ll think you a snake

Meany, phony, or fake

As they discern whether fight or just hide

So please watch your tone

Get way down off your throne

Let them know you’re a guy on their side

They need

You to really just be on their side.

So that is my take

On the shoes, straw, and snake

From the gauntlet and challenge so thrown.

Robert Frost I am not

Just a dried up old snot

A once-kid in a person now grown

I am

A once-kid in a person now grown.

– Amy Johnson

Cole’s latest book, ”Bash and the Chicken Coop Caper,” releases May 1 from B&H Kids. Contact him at or on the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook.