Tuesday, May 9, 2017


As a child I remember my thrifty handy dad mending my sisters' worn shoes. He used a curved needle and pliers to sew the uppers back to the soles. We only got new shoes if the old ones were beyond repair. 

In third grade my best friend had a pair of saddle shoes made of red velour. They were luxurious. I begged for a pair of red shoes too. Since I needed new school shoes we went to the local shoe store. The small shop on our main street still measured our feet with the metal sliding scale. He found a pair of hefty brogues, (Dad's prerequisite for shoes was sturdiness, not looks), made of dull cabernet colored leather. I was too afraid to protest. Strictly speaking they were red shoes, just not what I'd begged for.

When I was in high school he was outraged to learn that I had more than three pairs of shoes, even though I'd paid for them out of babysitting money.  From that day on, guilt blunted my enchantment with shoes.

In keeping with said upbringing, I tend to make do with quality but dated clothes and shoes. For a recent wedding I paired a newer dress with beautiful piece of gold-thread embroidered silk from India. Now I needed shoes, but I so seldom wear heels that I couldn't justify spending the time and money necessary to find just the right pair.

But in the back of my closet I had a seldom-worn pair of comfortable heels. As well I had the leather craft paint necessary to turn them a classy matte gold. The paint adhered well to the leather uppers and I was pleased. Proud, in fact. Thrift was vindicated.

look at the heels!
That is, until I put them on just prior to the wedding, and walked around the hotel room. They felt squishy. As I primped at the mirror, and adjusted my jewelry they felt less solid, and more bouncy. Sitting on the end of the bed I took one off and examined the chunky three inch heels which had cracked from the bottom up.

Crestfallen and stymied, I was stuck with an ugly pair of brown flat sandals. I changed out of the heels into the sandals and buckled up my pride. No one was going to look at my feet, no matter how much I imagined they'd whisper "What was she thinking?!"

I left the ruined pair in the trash when we checked out. But what I really should have checked out was every pair of shoes left in my closet. 

Not six months later I again packed a comfortable pair of shoes to take on our trip to Spain. They were favorites--good for walking and they looked sound.  Wear one pair, pack the other. I was so efficient. I had the black "mules" and a pair of old beige grandma-esque walking shoes. 

About day three of the trip, I slipped into the mules and they felt slightly wide and cool.  I put my fingers right through the perfect uppers, no longer attached to the faulty soles. Ironically 8' X 12' Clark's shoe ads   plastered the walls of Barcelona's underground train system. 

Bill urged me to buy another pair of shoes, which I finally did in another city. It was a fun experience as I practiced my Spanish language skills with the female clerk.  I loved the shoes until a foot injury made them just a bit uncomfortable, blast it. 

In retelling my experience a friend said she's had a pair of shoes fall to pieces while she was in India. 

So, play it safe. First, check your old shoes for dry rot at the seams or crumbling composite soles. Wear them, flex them. Second, go ahead and buy a new pair of shoes for your next big trip. And break them in prior to departure, lest they break out somewhere along the way, leaving you soleless.

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