Thanks to my wife, half of the shoes I own now have high heels. This was done in the name of a worthwhile event, Walk a Mile in Her Shoes.
Or So It Seems….
But there’s something really odd here. No, NOT that I’ll be wearing women’s shoes at Redding’s Promenade this Saturday the 13th at 10 am. No, it’s much weirder than that.
My wife’s using this fundraiser to brainwash me.
Why? Did you ever see the movie “Invasion of the Body Snatchers?” Imagine if you will that the Pod People are not after your body, but hoping to take over your closet space, and then expecting you to understand and be happy for them.
Impossible! You say. Well, read on.
Until last week, I delighted in teasing my wife about her footwear collection. It’s a point of pride that I’ve gotten by with two pairs of shoes—a pair for work and a pair for church—for years. What more does a man need? OK, I have “mowing-boots.” But they’re 30 years old, worn once a month and live in the garage, so they don’t count.
I’ve often wondered just how many pair of shoes my wife owns. It’s impossible to say, really. Like the population of the Earth, it’s a number that expands moment-to-moment, or every time she passes the Discovery Shop.
I now see that Karin is reading over my shoulder, and she wants me to tell you two things. First, these are thrift-shop shoes, which somehow are not tabulated in the same manner as footwear bought at full-retail, and secondly, she wants you to know that both Imelda Marcos and my mom owned more pairs.
Duly noted, and it’s true. Mom gets top billing here because Dad had to cut a doorway through their bedroom wall into the back yard and build a walk-in closet roughly the size of an aircraft hangar. It featured floor-to-ceiling racks for her shoes.
OK. Karin’s gone now, so let’s get back to the real story here. I must record these thoughts before my mind is completely gone.
Dear Diary: A scourge of shoes is taking over. I know this because I’ve watched my side of the closet disappear as her sandals, slippers, pumps, bowling shoes, running shoes, dance shoes, flats, low-heels, high-heels and boots pile up. They’ve now taken on a life all their own. Every time the closet opens or closes, they try to leap out at me until I throw them back in and slam the door. Then, I can hear them in there, tap-dancing, procreating, and creeping from her side over to mine with the stealth of leather-and-plastic Bermuda grass. Help me! Help me!
END OF ENTRY…
Could it be that this fundraising event is really a front, a final effort to finally break my will? It could be a ploy to get me to concede that it’s normal and proper own more than two pairs of shoes? Where can this lead? Will we be sleeping on the patio so we can fill our bedroom with footwear? I should have known that serious strangeness was afoot when Karin hypnotized me and took me against my will to the Anderson Outlets to look at shoes “for fun.”
“Seriously?” I asked, but I complied. My philosophy of shopping tends towards minimalism. Avoid it when you can, buy in bulk when you must. Postpone, procrastinate and use drive-through when possible.
Recreational shoe-shopping fits none of these criteria.
“Let’s make it an outing,” Karin said. My daughter stood behind her, nodding. They took me arm-in-arm out to the car and forced me to drive at fingernail-point to the store. Once there, I walked past the 4-foot display of men’s shoes into the 12 isles of women’s footwear.
“Over here,” Karin said. “They’ve got your size.”
Sure enough, there was a massive stack of shoes in colors I’d only seen on the NBC peacock. Nicole was the first to spring into action.
They were leopard-skin patterned, and they cut into my arches as I tried to wiggle in. Suddenly, I had sympathy for the wicked step-sisters who couldn’t fit into Cinderella’s slipper.
“I don’t think so,” I handed them back. About this time, an energetic young man bounded up and offered to help… my wife.
“We’re here to by HIM shoes,” Karin pointed at me.
“Oh,” he said, wrinkling his nose and looking at my hairy feet. “You’d better wear some stockings.”
“Not on your life,” I said. Wearing heels was one thing, hosiery another.
“You’ll contaminate the shoes,” he said, unsmiling.
“They’re more comfortable with stockings,” Karin said encouragingly. Try them.”
The salesman held out two objects the size and shape of condoms. They stretched onto my feet and then immediately snapped back to my toes.
“That was helpful,” I said.
“Hold them up while you put them on,” he said.
“Try rolling them on,” Karin suggested.
I looked around, to see if children were present, and I saw a 20-something guy and his wife staring at me and the ever-increasing stack of boxes that surrounded me.
“This is for a fundraiser,” I said.
He was being polite. His non-verbal communication, the falling over backwards to get away from me, told a different story.
“No really,” I said. “You should come and watch. Or maybe you can join in? There’s a bunch of us walking.”
“I’ll be out of town,” he said. And before I could add a word he fled the store.
Left alone with my wife and daughter, we selected a pair of black polka dots. Why? Because they go with so many of my outfits.
Still, as we left the store, I kept thinking of the young man and his excuse. “I’ll be OUT-OF-TOWN.”
Out of town? I hadn’t even told him the date! Hmmm… Maybe he knew already?
A few days later our son, Joe, came over from the coast to visit for a few weeks. We were talking, and Karin told him about the Walk a Mile event.
“Walk a Mile?” Joe chortled. “I could RUN a mile in women’s shoes.”
“So how about walking with me,” I said.
He was suddenly quiet.
“It’s for a good cause,” I added.
He shook his head. “I’m going to be out of town.”
“Let’s make a day of it, Joe. We’ll go out. I’ll buy you shoes.”
He looked at me strangely. “You want ME to go SHOPPING with YOU?” he said.
“Yeah,” I answered, a bit unsteadily.
“It could be… fun, and I’ll let you keep your stuff in my closet.”
He shook his head sadly, and then looked away. “Dad, the Pod People got you.”
He left the next day.
Pity, but at least it opened up the closet in the back bedroom. Now I have space for the leopard-skin shoes. I’ll have to go pick them up.
Even if YOU’RE out of town, you can contribute to WALK A MILE IN HER SHOES at http://www.active.com/donate/walkamile/robblightfoot
Robb has enjoyed writing and performing since he was a child, and many of his earliest performances earned him a special recognition-reserved seating in the principal’s office at Highland Elementary. Since then, in addition to his weekly column on A News Cafe – “Or So it Seems™” – Robb has written news and features for The Bakersfield Californian, appeared on stage as an opening stand-up act in Reno, and his writing has been published in the Funny Times. His short stories have won honorable mention national competition. His screenplay, “One Little Indian,” Was a top-ten finalist in the Writer’s Digest competition. Robb presently lives, writes and teaches in Shasta County.