I don’t get shoes.
Okay, I understand the whole concept of “put these things on your feet and you won’t have to hobble about in pain until you develop calluses on your soles like a Teabagger’s heart” – that much is pretty straightforward.
And yes, I understand about trying to look nice and how as a general rule there just aren’t many people you need to see barefooting it around your workplace or restaurant.
But shoes as objects of desire? I don’t get it.
I have exactly four pairs of shoes, all of them black. I have a pair of sneakers that are comfortable and look like dress shoes from a distance. These I wear almost every day. I have a pair of dress shoes for those occasions where the sneakers won’t pass inspection, which happen on average about once every twelve to eighteen months. They are therefore in a “classic” style that I can wear for the rest of my life with only the mildest of reproach from the fashion-conscious. I also have a pair of boots for winters in Wisconsin, boots that I wore for a week this year since that was about how long our winter lasted (good thing global climate change is a myth, because otherwise, you know, I’d be worried…). And I have a pair of sandals that I drag out in the summertime when it gets too hot for sneakers.
When they wear out, I replace them with their nearest equivalent. This is a process that – including checkout – takes about ten minutes once I hit the front door of the store. I know my shoe size, and men’s shoes (like men’s clothing) are far more standardized than women’s. I know exactly what I’m looking for. I find them, try them on, confirm that they are indeed as close as possible to the last pair, settle my debt and leave. Easy. The rest of the day is mine for more important tasks, preferably involving a nearby bookstore.
This attitude comes as a great shock to a lot of people I know who consider shoe shopping a treat. They love shoes in all their many shapes, colors and manifestations. They look forward to shoe shopping as a reward for services performed in other areas of their lives. They enjoy shoes for the very shoe-ness of them. They are almost all women. I don’t get it.
Considering shoes a treat is as mystifying to me as considering vaccinations a treat. They’re just something necessary in civilized society that you do because otherwise you and everyone around you suffers.
Apparently I have passed my attitude along to my eldest child.
We went shoe shopping yesterday, now that Tabitha has outgrown Kim’s shoes and has nothing to wear on her feet except a pair of flip flops and her gym shoes. Tabitha hates shopping in general, which is a position I am rather reluctant to change, now that she is approaching her teenage years. But sometimes you have to do what you have to do, and even Tabitha recognized that this was the time for some shoes.
So we hiked up to the nearest Giant Shoestore Emporium and set to work.
Sweet dancing monkeys on a stick but there are a lot of ridiculous shoes out there. Shoes canted at 45-degree angles or higher. Shoes that you could use as murder weapons. Shoes with chambers built in for each individual toe. Shoes in colors not found in the rainbow. Shoes in colors not found in drug-induced hallucinations. Shoes that appear to be made of compressed air. Shoes made of old tires. Wicker shoes. Shoes with random bumps, flanges and bulges.
GSE has these all and more, in a room about the size and warmth of an aircraft hangar.
We spent an hour or so there, and eventually came away with everything we needed and more. Tabitha got a couple of pairs of shoes that she can wear. I got a pair of black sneakers to replace the ones that are about to fall apart – Lauren found them, as I had gotten overwhelmed and had to go sit down. And Kim got a pair of shoes with toe compartments and unnatural colors. She insists that they are comfortable. For all I know she is right.
Lauren is full up on shoes at the moment, though that didn't stop her from trying on every ridiculous pair she could find. There is nothing quite like a 9-year-old in red stiletto heels to make you question the whole concept of dress shoes.
Afterward, we went to the bookstore.