It’s All About the Shoes

Posted on February 22nd, 2012 by Viveca in New York Stories

In Soho recently I was attacked by a “Going Out of Business” sale.

I hadn’t bought any clothes for months, maybe a year, but suddenly I was powerless before the sign. “60% off, 70% off, 90% off! Our hangers are for sale! Our clothing racks are for sale! Make us an offer! Everything must go!” They seemed so distraught to have leftover merchandise, so I helped them as much as I could. I was very excited by my new haul of fashionable boutique clothing. Suddenly I would be so stylish no one will recognize me. And all on sale—nobody will know!

But the next day when I wanted to present my new stylish self, I realized that I didn’t have any shoes that would be remotely appropriate with any of the clothes. All of my shoes were big, clunky, and black. I couldn’t afford to buy nice Soho shoes to match the clothes. What’s a girl to do?

Problem solved by a friend at work: Payless! Summer was just around the corner. I could buy cheap shoes to match anything! So we took a little walk to Payless, and I was astounded at all the fun plastic shoes. Plus they run all these crafty little promotions to get you to buy more. I bought four pairs of shoes—it really did feel good to pay less! One of the pairs actually filled a real gap in my shoe wardrobe: brown sandals, relatively plain and low but dressier than Tevas. Another pair was for pants. I thought I’d ruined my old black sandals, so I bought a pair of strappy, trampy ones. And finally, just because, I bought a pair of red, fake-snakeskin-print mules that are just about the sexiest thing I had ever owned. The kitten heels weren’t that high, but the uppers were so skimpy that I couldn’t quite walk in them. I loved them anyway. I debated and debated because I had never worn anything remotely like them, but finally I bought them. They were cheap.

I was so excited to have little wispy plastic shoes that weren’t big and clunky and black. I was so excited to bust out my new wardrobe of sassy skirts and skimpy sandals. I was going to show off a whole new me!

But then the weather took a turn for the freezing. I wore the pair for pants a few times, but it was way too cold to wear any of the others. I’ve seen other women flashing bare toes in the depths of snowy winters, but I’ll never be that stylish.

So finally, it got a little warmer and I wore the black sandals for the first time to a show downtown. Many compliments (yay). Not as comfortable as I’d hoped (boo). I was early to the show, and the junk store next door to the theater had a sign saying, “the friendliest store in the world.” I walked in and discovered a beautiful pair of size 8 1/2 red snakeskin-patterned slingbacks that are amazingly comfortable. They were marked $30, and they were in great shape, but what are the chances that I would need two pairs of red snakeskin-patterned shoes? I still hadn’t even worn the first ones! The saleswoman said she would give them to me for $25. I still didn’t buy them because I’m practical.

Halfway through the show I leaned over to my friend, “I need to go back to that store for the shoes.”

The store was still open when we got out at 10 p.m. I bought them and was so excited I changed into them later that same night. For a movie. No one could even see them in the dark theater, but I knew they were there. Every now and then I would wiggle my exposed toes in joy.

When the movie let out, I was afraid to wear them in Times Square at 3 a.m., not because they weren’t comfortable but rather because they really were just too hot. I still loved them, but I wore the black sandals home.

Trying to extend my new sandal-sassy self, I brought the black sandals to my sister’s for the weekend. Well, I wore sneakers, but I put the sandals down in the hall. My sister asked whether those trashy things were mine. My Payless sandals, trashy!? She said I needed a mini-skirt and a lot of make up to go with them. Sigh.

The brown sandals, which were the only ones of the four I really needed and which I thought would be the most comfortable, turned out to be too big. I wore them on Easter, and I was sliding around and trying to grip them with my toes. I also made the mistake of wearing them to a fancy brunch at the Yale Club, so I was more self-conscious of how tacky they really are. They barely got any wear, so I thought maybe I could trade them in for a smaller size, but I couldn’t find the receipt. In a strange wave of immorality, I wore them into Payless hoping to go try on a size smaller and leave the wrong ones back in the box. Luckily for my ease of mind, my evil plan was shut down by Payless, who wisely has an anti-theft device on every pair of shoes. I think they have one on every shoe in some cases. I liked the brown ones for comfort and looks, so eventually I gave them away and bought the same pair again.

Finally, I tried out both pairs of red fake snakeskin ones. The used pair, which were much higher quality, were comfortable and wonderful. The Payless pair were very sexy but gouged a whole chunk out of my foot, and a huge foot hole is not sexy. I kept the fancy pair.

It’s all about the shoes, Mars.


Note: I wrote that story in 2000 or so. In 2001, I wore the red shoes to a wedding with the gold skirt and slinky brown halter top I’d bought in Soho. A man I’d had a crush on for years took notice: “My mother told me there are only two kinds of women who wear red shoes,” he said, “and you don’t look like no Spanish dancer.”

2 Comments on “It’s All About the Shoes”

  1. Joseph Page

    Nice …Very good information

  2. Richard

    Another spellbinding tale. Thanks!

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