Claudine Jones | Scene4 Magazine

 Claudine Jones

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 pumps.

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 bought them.

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 mother's taste.

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, peaceful.

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.


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Claudine Jones | Scene4 Magazin

Claudine Jones has had a long, full career as an Actor/Singer/Dancer. She writes a monthly column
and is a Senior Writer and columnist for Scene4.
For more of her commentary and articles, check the Archives.

©2022 Claudine Jones
©2022 Publication Scene4 Magazine




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