It's a beautiful day.
I thought I would walk down to
the local antique store and chat with my brother. Long story, but he
is an excellent restorer and one of my little wooden tchotchkes got
busted the other day. So sad, yet a chance to offload a little project
and check in. He was happy to oblige. There's something about
Friday though. They have a standing lunch on Fridays at 2 in front of
the shop. I had called and asked if it would be OK to horn in and my
brother said it'll give me an excuse to stop talking. Even the
best standing lunch Friday can wear thin, I suppose.
I can kind of sense that it is
time to say my adieux and frivolously announce that I need to buy
apples so I'm on my way.
This leads me past a tiny shoe
store that I never frequent. Probably because this is a relatively
high end area and I don't want to spend that much on shoes. I
don't really need shoes.
Or do I?
What is it about this fascination?
I remember this little pocket
book my mother had of anecdotes from a gynecologist who was addressing
women's issues. Anyway my mother gave me the book so I guess she
wanted me to read it to save her the trouble of having to explain some
stuff. The really odd thing was that it was divided in chapters, each
one addressing another issue with a single patient who would
invariably be called "Miss Poe" or "Mrs. Coe" or "Mrs. Loe"--I guess
he was too bored or lazy to actually give them names--and they would
discuss the patient's symptoms and he would get his doctor voice on
and give sage advice. For some reason I was fascinated with one
particular "episode" wherein the lady in question is pregnant and
(I'll always remember how he phrased it): She thrust out one daintily clad foot.
Unfortunately she was wearing high heels or pumps as they used to call
them. He sternly admonished her! Not proper footwear for pregnant
I read the whole book but I gotta
say not much of it stuck beyond that image. My mother certainly wore
OK now I'm officially bored.
This wasn't supposed to be
about shoes anyway. The point is that I found myself standing in front
of the shoe shop window and then realized there's too many people
in there why don't I go get my apples and then I'll return.
When I came back there was still too many people, so I had a choice: I
could either go home and then kind of lose the momentum, or I could
just wander around inside the store which is a very strange thing
these days. I haven't recently done that in retail establishment;
I mean I know I fall prey to buying things online but if it's not
the grocery store or the hardware store, I'm probably not going to
be going into retail.
But there I was, looking at
shoes. When I got tired of that I just made my way over to a sort of
hassock arrangement and sat down in full view, watching other people
try things on. There were only two staff available at that time. I
could hear my mind chattering away why would somebody choose to try
on shoes barefoot? I thought you can't do that. Anyway. And then I thought stupid pedicures. And then I thought how
long can a person actually fiddle around having employees bring shoes
out? Remember they were there before I went for my apples and they
were still there when I walked back.
Then I was off to the races
picturing various landscapes where in I might be walking, and knowing
my own feet and knowing my hip problem and knowing that I have a lot
of shoes already but I don't have any sandals, fixating on what is
my true purpose? Is it to be out and about? It's true I looked in
the window and I saw some sandals that were attractive to me, since
it's a subjective thing. And true I just finished getting a refund
from an outfit online that purported to be all using
environmentally safe products and stuff and when I got them a) they were too big and b) they were butt ugly, so there's that.
I'm still not sure what the deal is with shoes.
If you have a daughter, back in
the day what you would do is, in the lead up to the start of the
school year there would be a shopping trip. My mother of course took
this very seriously, way more seriously than I did, so my dad was the
chauffeur who would take us down to what passed for a mall in those
days, actually not a mall at all just a group of stores. Capwells!
That's where we went. My mother loved Capwells. So we would go up
and down the isles of the fabric department because she wasn't
going to buy me anything off the rack she was going to make it, so I
had to give my opinion of various colors and designs. Here's how
it would go. Oh isn't that beautiful! And I would say I guess.
At the end of the day she had all this stuff going on in her noodle
about how much yardage did she need and the price, and all of that
went over my head.
But then, oh my God, the shoe
department. Man, I remember one year she got me three pairs of shoes!
Even for her that was a little much. I think she had something going
on this was definitely retail therapy. Anyway we got them home and it
turned out the poor bastard who sold us one of those pairs of shoes, I
kid you not, one of the shoes was one size and the other was another
size. So obviously I hadn't tried both of the shoes on before we
Sadly I can tell you the style.
They were white with little square cutouts. If I was going to have to
take a pair back to the store that would be the ones. Was that the
year I got my favorite red patent leather ones? That was the year I
was entering high school. Oh oh oh I loved those little red shoes.
They were really cute. But a bit of an anomaly. It was rare that I
actually fell in love with my shoes.
There is a bit of a history with
these choices though. Like the time when my French grandmother was
dying and my mother went to France to be with her. Mind you I had
already been to France with my mother for three months and I not only
knew my French grandmother but I actually lived with her for a short
time, while my mother was figuring some things out. Point is when this
sad trip was being planned I wasn't going to get to go of course.
That would have been inappropriate, but my mother did in some way I
think miss me because she offered to bring something back for me and I
said could you bring me some shoes? The weird thing is that I had
become accustomed to trusting--against my will mind you--my
The shoes were absolutely stunning and I hated them on sight.
I think somebody else must have
collaborated with her on this choice? In fact I'm sure of it. This
is corroborated by later experiences with my Aunt especially. There
was a bourgeoise strain the size of the Seine in those two. I mean,
that's when she brought back the fabric that she said she had
scored in a particular specialty area of Paris where you can find
designer stuff but you can also find sales and scraps. she proceeded
to do a makeover of my bedroom in secret. She probably had the plan
the whole time. The sad thing is I wasn't part of it and so after
that makeover it was like a hotel room. Nice, but not mine.
When I got myself together after
high school, got a job and earned some money so I could afford airfare
and some pocket money to stay with the family in Paris, that's
when I bought the shoes that I wanted.
Can't wear them anymore because my feet have a tendency to swell a little
bit and the leather is slightly cracked in some areas. I put a lot of miles on
those. Meanwhile, way before that we were heading out and it was July. I
told my aunt I needed some sandals and she sighed. There's not going to be
anything left this time of year. So she took me to her favorite store and lo
and behold, there they were: dark yellow, blue stitching, a small heel. My
size. I don't remember their final resting place but in my entire lifetime I
don't think I have ever actually worn down shoes to that extent, not
expensive mind you, but well made quality, and yet just like your favorite
pet, eventually they die.
Well, those ladies in the shoe shop finally noticed me. I had been there for
charitably I would say at least 20 minutes. When the thoughts would come
up, the judgments, the commentary, I would look out the windows. The
door was open, you could see foot traffic and a bit of the sky, some fluffy
clouds. I seriously had no fucking reason to complain. It began to be crystal
clear that I was in the moment. What M calls aware of the breath, silent,
It was a bit of a surprise when somebody finally came over and asked were
you interested in anything in particular? So yeah, the next half hour or so I
tried on two pairs of sandals and we went around about colors and sizes,
meanwhile it seems like those original two ladies are just going to order
lunch and stay there for the rest of the day. Seriously they were no more
close to a decision then at the beginning I think.
My ego got involved, since I had made my choice, was looking down at my
feet and thinking these are very comfortable I could walk in these and how
funny would it be if I spent just 5 minutes making my choice and then
walked out wearing them. But no the rule is if you don't love it don't buy it
and I didn't love them, even though we were at this point becoming old
friends I mean a bunch of women just chatting even though two of them
work there, there's still camaraderie.
Then I felt myself coming back. Just thinking what is true?
I know what true love is.
It's dark yellow with blue stitches.