Shoe Shopping


This morning, I was remembering a time I went shoe shopping in 1971 or '72 and congratulating myself on how much better I do these days. I was 21 or 22 then and very inexperienced as a shopper. But I needed shoes, so I found a store somehow (probably wandered around until one showed up). When I went in, however, I had no idea what to do. The store overwhelmed me. It wasn't a big store, and it sold nothing except shoes. But there were people moving around and lots of stuff (shoe displays, etc.), nothing familiar so everything -- visual and aural -- was work to decipher. If I'd known how to behave as a shoe-shopper, I might have been able to get into the role and ride along until the overload got a bit under control. I'd never been in a shoe store on my own, though, and needed someone to "cue" me. Nobody did. So I left, still needing shoes.

Outside, I saw a woman and a little girl. The girl was whining and pulling on her mother's arm, refusing to keep up. The woman slapped her. I was horrified (by the thought that the girl had no option other than to stay with the person who hit her). And that was it for me that day.

So as I was remembering that day this morning, I was congratulating myself on how much better I do now. Then I realized something: Since my mother died, Nancy has been my shoe adviser. Either she has bought shoes for me, or she has taken me to a store and talked to the clerk for me. One year I did buy my own shoes: I went to the store Nancy had taken me to for the last pair, pointed to the shoes on my feet, said, "I want a pair of these in size 9," paid, took the box with the shoes in it, and left. When that kind of shoe became not-good for me (because of changes in my feet), all I did was whine and complain until Nancy laboriously persuaded me to go with her to a new shoe store, where she thought I could get shoes that would work for me and where she again talked to the clerk for me.

Maybe by the time I die (if I live quite a bit longer) I'll be able to brag about buying a pair of shoes entirely on my own. Maybe.



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