I’ve been thinking about shoes. I know, I know. It doesn’t seem like an important subject for blogging, but for me the subject of shoes is very complex. My memories and musings began yesterday when I purchased a copy of Woman’s Day. On page 22 there is one of those “filler” pieces titled “What does every woman need?” Brooke Burke, model, answered, “A community to count on…I can’t do it alone.” Dr. Nieca Goldberg, cardiologist, said, “Confidence to go with your gut…your first thought is usually the best one.” And Kelly Ripa (admittedly NOT one of my favorite people), talk show host, said, “A really big shoe closet.” Apparently her husband built an enormous shoe closet in their apartment. Oh, come on. A hundred possible answers to the question and hers is about her shoe collection??
I have a relative and a few friends with “shoe collections”- thirty to fifty pairs. In fact one tried to tell me the difference between her “navy and white” shoes and her “white and navy” shoes to justify having both. I’m sorry, but I don’t understand such extravagance. I have fifteen pairs of shoes, including house shoes and garden shoes, and I feel guilty having that many! Honest. Guilty. There have been many years when I’ve had five pairs of shoes and thought I was blessed.
I took photos of my shoe collection once. I was taking some photography classes at a community college in California and was required to take a “self-portrait” for my portfolio. I gathered together my hiking boots, running shoes, fuzzy house shoes, favorite scuffed up loafers, shiny church heels, and a couple of pairs of “everyday” shoes. I piled them on the living room floor and took a photo of them. I still have the black and white 8x10 from that portfolio and each pair of shoes tells me a story.
When I was a child I wore shoes to go somewhere. I seldom wore them at home. If it was hot I went bare footed. If it was cold I wore socks- two pairs if it was really cold. I had one pair of shoes for church or any other dress-up occasion. I had one pair of shoes for school. I might have an extra pair of shoes if someone gave them to us or Mom found some at a yard sale or flea market. And some years I had a pair of shoes or boots for the field, although typically we just had several pairs of those rubber boots sitting around and I wore a pair that was two or three sizes too big. My school shoes were supposed to last the whole year and with the help of cardboard, usually did. I covered the holes in the soles of my shoes and kept my feet on the floor so no one would see them. Once a week Dad cleaned and polished our shoes.
Shoe shopping for school was a big deal. My brothers and I went to the shoe store and a man measured our feet with that shiny metal device and Mom clucked her tongue at how much our feet had grown over the summer. We bought one pair of shoes at the shoe store and then Mom tried to find extra shoes at the flea market when she could.
As I grew older and bigger I had the privilege of sharing shoes with Mom. That benefitted both of us. Mom loved high heels and was thrilled when she found a good pair at a sale. I think that once we both started wearing them she felt better about paying a little more for them. And she had quite a few laughs watching me learn to walk in heels.
I remember walking for miles in heels. I’d wear them all day! Of course I’ve also lost my balance and turned my ankle a time or two. I was lucky and didn’t do any permanent damage to my feet, although I do think my later back problems may have started with those days in heels. Mother wasn’t so lucky and had to have foot surgery when she was older. My grandmother also had serious foot problems. I wore heels for about ten years, but I never did like for my feet to hurt, so I didn’t wear a lot of the really high or really narrow ones. And gradually I switched to flats. Now I won’t wear anything that isn’t comfortable and safe. I can’t believe women still walk around in 4”-6” heels after all we’ve learned about their effects on our feet.
I don’t pay a lot of attention to feet, so I suppose that is one reason I don’t get excited about shoes. I don’t understand the whole idea of decorating our feet. They aren’t the best part of us. At least mine sure aren’t!
I don’t spend a lot of money for my shoes, either. I think the most I’ve ever invested in a pair of shoes was $65 for a pair of Rockport shoes that I wore when I worked at Macy’s. I saved for several months to buy those shoes and the comfort of them was worth every penny. But now I buy cheaper shoes and put Dr. Scholl’s insoles in them! I remember getting angry at Oprah once (one of a thousand times, which is why I don’t watch her show any more) because she commented that she was enjoying her “$250 house shoes” so much. That just seems like such wasteful self-indulgence to me. I don’t care how much money the woman has.
Ironic that while I was talking to my daughter this morning she told me about my granddaughter’s new boots. When Hope told me how much she paid for them I told her “I’ve had cars that didn’t cost that much!” She laughed and said she wants one of those, too. I won’t begrudge her the boots. I remember the thrill of saving to buy something special. I understand that she and her friends are very brand conscious. At least she isn’t buying high heels! However, I hope that as she gets older she invests her money in other things.
If you have a shoe collection I hope I haven’t offended you. I just don’t “get it”. And if you have a “shoe closet” I really don’t understand.