Andrea's column: Looking for that perfect matchLately, my mailbox has been stuffed with all kinds of department store catalogs. Each one is filled with pages of shoes. I linger longingly.
By: Andrea Langworthy, Rosemount Town Pages
Lately, my mailbox has been stuffed with all kinds of department store catalogs. Each one is filled with pages of shoes. I linger longingly.
Not because I can buy the hip high heels or fabulous flats bedazzled with fancy trim. No, I am relegated to wear sturdy, sensible, unattractive shoes for the rest of my life. Me, who once loved a pair of heels so much I bought three pair — each in a different color. Me, whose husband groaned when I told him the newly built Mall of America had a Nordstrom store which reportedly sold every shoe available on the planet.
Earlier this week, when my siblings came for dinner, I sat next to my youngest sister who was wearing a pair of black patent leather shoes with what is called a “kitten heel.” Up near the toe was an embellishment so pretty it could have passed for a piece of jewelry. “Ooh, I want shoes like that,” I said to myself. I didn’t dare say it aloud because everyone at the table would have given me that look of pity that says, “Poor you.”
If I love shoes so much, you may wonder why I opt for utilitarian ones that have composite rubber soles, Velcro closures, and look like they belong snapped into the bindings of cross country skis. It’s simple. Because of an autoimmune disease, I am no longer steady on my feet. The shoes I wear now give me stability but that is all. They are nothing to fall head over heels in love with.
My passion for shoes came from my mother. I remember downtown shopping trips with her at Dayton’s, Powers, and Young-Quinlan’s. Mom’s feet were so narrow (“Aristocratic,” a friend says.) that she wore a triple-A width, something she was very proud of. When Mom passed away, there was a whole shelf in her spare bedroom that was stacked to the ceiling with boxes of shoes.
My first remembrance of a shoe “affair” is from first grade. I wanted a pair of penny loafers like those worn by the older girls at my school. I begged and begged my parents for them. I can still remember the night my father got home late from work and woke me up. He had me sit on the side of the bed and wait while he opened a box and brought out a pair of dark brown leather loafers. Each shoe already had a penny in place.
I can also remember the day Sister Helen Marie stopped writing on the blackboard, turned around, and told me that if I didn’t stop slipping those loafers off part way and tapping the heels on the floor, she would tie them to my feet and tell my father I could no longer wear them to school.
I outgrew the loafers and moved on to new persuasions. Charcoal Kickerino boots with their fuzzy grey lining. Capezio flats — so slim with paper-thin soles and pointy toes — that my parents made me buy with my baby-sitting money. Clogs in the 1960s; platform heels and Dr. Scholl’s sandals in the ’70s; pink leather Reeboks in the ‘80s. High heels and leather boots across many decades. Ah, be still my heart.
I feel no fervor for what is on my feet these days. They are simply faithful companions that hold me steady and upright. For that reason, I am rather fond of them but I would drop them in a heartbeat for something more dashing that could still squeeze me tight.