If you’ve known me for more than 20 minutes you know that I’m a shoe person. I can’t tell you how many pairs of shoes I own; although it’s a common question I am asked. I like high heels, tennies, ballet flats, and flip flops. I like shoe booties and boots. Just bought my first pair of thigh high boots. I like sandals and open-toed peeps. I like pumps and wedges. I like shoes, and shoes like me!
There are three pairs of shoes I believe started it all, two black and one red. From the best of my recollection, these pairs sparked my life-long love affair with shoes.
One chilly day when I was three I reached up to the kitchen counter for a cup of hot chocolate. I pulled the cup down, spilling the entire contents of cocoa over my head and down my little body; I was wearing only little girl panties. I remember it hurt badly; I screamed out crying. My mother rushed to me and immediately began to doctor me up. She tucked me in bed between the cool sheets. Sometime that afternoon she must have called my dad to tell him what had happened. When he got home from work he came to my bedside to visit. He gave me a pair of black patent-leather Mary Jane’s. I remember how it made everything all right. At that moment, I was in love with my dad, and in love with those shoes!
In fourth grade I got a new pair of black T-strapped shoes. They weren’t patent, just a nice shiny leather. I remember the first day I was going to wear them I couldn’t find any clean white socks. I had to wear black knee high socks. I was disappointed because I thought to myself, “No one will notice my new shoes!”
At lunchtime I was the hall monitor waiting until it was my class’s time to fall in line and head to the cafeteria. I was leaning against the wall just outside the classroom door. My teacher, Mrs. Parrish, came out into the hallway and was chatting with me. She said, “You got new shoes. I like them.” I still remember how proud I felt. Someone noticed my new shoes. I looked down at them. I’m sure my face was beaming. I’m smiling about it now even as I write.
I was 11 when I got my first pair of red shoes. They were pretty special too. They were a fancy kind of loafer. They were a muted tomato-red with a wing flap, short of like what you’d see on a golf shoe. They had some black blurry highlights on them. They are hard to describe, but were really cool.
I had gotten them for Christmas along with a really cute red, white, and blue straight dress and some white tights. I chose to wear the outfit for the first time on a cold day in January when we were going on a fieldtrip. I grew up in west Texas cattle country; one of our biggest industries was the meat packing plant. And so my new red shoes made their debut where cattle are killed and turned into hamburger.
I found the tour quite interesting, but a little bit sickening. I still remember seeing how the hotdogs were made; a bunch of junk was blown into some thin plastic casings. I do eat hotdogs to this day, but I’m not sure why.
It was very near where they were making hotdogs that I was aware I was standing in about a half inch of watery blood. It permeated the entire warehouse, and so one really couldn’t avoid it.
My new shoes were stained with blood. I remember thinking, “well, I’m glad they are red.” But yet I was disappointed that my new, fairly expensive shoes were soiled. I thought, “why did I have to wear them today?” I was a little mad at myself for not waiting.
Since then I’ve had lots of red shoes, and more black shoes than one can imagine. This girl does love a new pair of shoes!
There is a line in the movie The American President that I can relate to. Michael Douglas plays the part of the president. He’s preparing for his first date, years after he became a widower. His young daughter advises him, “Tell her you like her shoes; girls like that!” No truer words were ever spoken.
What’s your fashion love? How did it come to be? Did it help shape who you are? I’d like to hear about it.