Pete and I walked around Princeton in a spitting rain, looking for a pair of black shoes to replace scuffs I’d worn to shreds over the winter. We’d already been through shoe stores every weekend for a month and I was a little testy about it, so today, we went straight to what we knew would be an expensive source. Four stores later, we were about to give up again when The Walking Store lay between us and our car. We walked in, I fended off a salesperson and sat down to scan the shelves. By this time, the pain in my hip was screamy-scream-screaming, so when my eye came to rest on a pair of UC24s, I gimpy-gimp-gimped to them and found the salesman at my elbow. I came clean.
Tata: I’m having trouble tying my right shoe, so I’m looking for slip-ons. The filthy things I’m wearing were a terrible compromise, but they didn’t exactly succeed. I’d like to throw them away immediately.
Salesman: You’ve chosen a shoe that will support your feet and cushion properly. Let me put some orthodic inserts into them. Try this.
I limped across the store. I limped back. I limped to the front window and limped back. These shoes were so brilliant the screaming died down. The salesman brought me Obeo sandals that felt pretty good, but there was something else calling my name: the crazy, crazy, crazy Danskos in colors and patterns that were no laughing matter. I pointed to a pair and said, “Leopard print. My favorite color.”
Earlier, we’d stumbled around Stein Mart and found these badass Liz Claiborn kicks with a kitten heel on sale for 50% off. They reminded me of the shoes Sherilyn Fenn modeled for the first few episodes of Twin Peaks – not that these shoes resemble those. No way. But that character would wear these. Also: I hate plaid, but love the patent leather tassels. You can almost smell the Campari, the soda, and the brimstone.
I will wear these to brief special occasions where no one mistakes me for a nice person.
There, in The Walking Store, these shoes looked like the kind of moist temptation you’ve been warned about all your life. The priest, the minister, the rabbi all agree: you’re safer crossing the street before you look at the Dutch shoes, but I tried them on anyway. In 1973, Dad sent us kids sabots – Dutch wooden shoes – which I outgrew immediately. But today, I put these on and the sensation in my feet stirred an old, old memory. I limped to the front window and limped back. Then I stood up straight and walked evenly to the front of the store, free of pain. It was a fucking miracle with a good news/bad news component. On the one hand, I tell people all the time: buy the good shoes to protect your knees and spine. On the other: I bought the cheap shoes and paid for that. The salesman threw away the old shoes like he had freed me from the curse of stupid, crippling scuffs, and I suppose he was.
Then I had to call Daria and tell her I bought wooden shoes.