Thursday, June 12, 2003

I heart shoes

I know that many people love shoes. Some people have rooms just for their shoes. Other people have shoe fetishes which bring loving to a whole different level. I've loved shoes as long as I can remember. One of my earliest shoe memories is a pair of red Buster Brown Mary Janes. Those shoes rocked my little 5 year old world.

I used to have a lot of shoes. Some of them lived life as only favorite shoes can; worn almost constantly until there was nothing my cobbler could do to keep them alive. With all the moving I've done over the past year or so, I've pared down considerably . My stable of shoes is about a baker's dozen from the 50+ I had when I was living in Emeryville. Most of the survivors are what I consider my favorites.

A favorite is typically comfortable, cool-looking and often functional. There are some specialists like my biking shoes or the winter boots I bought my last Winter in New York. I want to let the boots go, but know one day those babies will save my life (or perhaps just keep my feet warm). These shoes are infrequently used, but are comfortable and have a certain practical coolness to them.

Often shoes have a story behind them. My black patent leather Doc Martens were discovered at the Oakland Museum White Elephant Sale. I had only been in California a few months and decided that Doc Martens were the kind of cool shoes that I wanted to have. I wandered the Haight street shoe stores drooling over cool shoes that were just too damn pricey for my budget. On this special overcast day in March, Becky took me to this uber-garage-sale to in search of bargains. The Oakland Museum Association has this huge warehouse in the Fruitvale neighborhood where they store things that they receive from others, mostly Estate Sale leftovers and once a year open their doors to the public. Walking in is like going through a Tag Sale Walmart with different department like Women's Clothes, Books, Furniture, Housewares, Fabrics, Kids Toys and Shoes. granted someone else's used shoes are not what I typically get into, but since it was the first section on the right as you walk in, it was a natural place to start.

I saw these Doc Marten shoes in the size 4 section. I was heading for my 6-7 section, but these shiny babies caught my eye. I picked them up to whine at Becky how they had a pair, but not in my size. She commented how they might fit since British sizes are a smaller than US sizes. I tried them on and they fit. Perfectly. I wasn't sure about the patent leather part. they were really shiny. I noticed that they were in good condition and wondered if they had ever been worn since the soles were clean and the insoles didn't have any of the tell-tale wear you get when someone else's feet have been there. These were brand new shoes. The part that closed this deal was the price. They were priced at $10, which is fabulous since these shoes run about $100 in the stores. So I bought them.

Unfortunately these had a break-in period prior to becoming my most favorite shoes. Once they are broken in they are perfect. But until that point, my heels pay in flesh. I try to get shoes that are good fits and cool looking now since I'm sure the chronological age of my heels are about 30 years older than the rest of my body.

The docs are getting old and worn now with their shine not so shiny anymore. They are in good company with other cheap finds like my outlet store Birka Birkenstocks, my red Kenneth Cole Reaction shoes from Shoe Pavilion and my latest find the crocus Eccos from Sierra Trading Post. The joys of inexpensive shoes to obsess over are boundless. I have actually found myself looking at my shoes while waiting in line at the market or in long meetings and thinking in my head how spiffy my feet look with them on.

Other shoes were spurge purchases. Often these were well thought out and anguished over prior to purchase. I would visit them periodically to see if it pulled on my heartstrings as strongly as the first. It may be love at first sight, but often my more practical wallet will ix-nay the purchase after a few weeks.
My Clark Clogs were bought at full retail after a few weeks of debate. Sneakers also seem to be bought at a higher price since they get so much wear. My younger brother Bill in a fit of wisdom beyond his years (he was 25 when he shared this with me) once said that you spend one third of your life on your feet and another third in your bed, so you should expect to spend more for your shoes and your mattress.

It was with this thought in my head years later that I splurged on a pair of black leather Italian shoes. It was in November 2000 and I was at Shoe Pavilion a week or so before my birthday wandering up and down the aisles. I was wasting time and trying to use some retail therapy to get through the fear and panic that Becky wasn't going to get the liver she needed and might die. I knew these shoes were something special when I touched them. They were soft and smooth and I couldn't stop fondling them. I found a pair in my size and tried them on. They fit nicely and looked sharp, and sooo soft. I looked at the price, 60 dollars, on the high side for Shoe Pavilion. I put them in their box and walked around with them. By the time I reached the counter I knew that we were meant to be together.

Do you have a special pair in your life?

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