Very trying…trying on shoes


Defying the stereotype, let me say I do not like buying shoes. I love owning shoes — all styles and colors and heights — but the actual process of purchasing them is second only to one other onerous task. We’ll get to that in a minute.

Shoes — and here’s a new flash — change. Your feet change, too of course. In my case, the feet are getting wider and longer. Very soon, when I wish to cross country ski, I’ll merely step out the back door and glide away, without strapping boards to my feet.

A pair of suitable shoes is nearly as personal an item as a pair of suitable jeans. In the good old days, a shopper could find the brand, the style, and the size of jeans they had worn out, pluck the same thing off the shelf, and they’d fit. Jeans that fit are now in the same category as … nothing really. Jeans that fit are in a category all their own.

My previous pair of what we quaintly call tennis shoes was so worn, the bottoms were smooth. So these, truly, could have been used as skis. Thinking wistfully of the day when the ground isn’t covered with snow, I opted to get new shoes that offered a little traction. Off I went to the department store equipped with clean socks and high hopes. Because I am hopelessly naïve, I began my search by saying “I’m not paying eighty dollars for a pair of tennis shoes.” I also wanted black shoes with eyelets, not loops for the laces. Ha ha. This is just a little journalistic humor. It became apparent in about five seconds that of course I was going to pay eighty dollars for a pair of shoes. If I could even find them. The other requirements fell by the wayside one by one. There were dozens of styles. Literally dozens. Regrettably, very few of those styles had a pair left in my size. And, in what appears to be an unfortunate trend in footwear, women’s shoes now come mostly in the most appalling array of the color pink. It’s been a long long time (read: never) since I’ve pumped my fist and shouted “Girl power!” The thought of traipsing around the countryside wearing pink shoes was an absolute deal breaker.

The item formerly known as tennis shoes is now known, variously, as hiking shoes, walking shoes, running shoes, everyday shoes, cross training shoes, or work shoes. These are real words, right off the real shoe boxes. I started out with walking shoes. My running career has consisted of three visits to Hobart Arena to jog around the hall there. Oh, the humanity. My current plan is to never jog again unless being chased by something (1) larger than I am and (2) carnivorous. The walking shoes were not comfortable to, you know, walk in. Off they went to be replaced, in turn, with hiking shoes. Hiking shoes are like walking shoes only more intense. I did try on the running shoes, figuring the shoes would eventually get used to my slower pace. Along with running, I don’t cross train either. I’m not sure what cross training is but I’m almost sure I don’t do it unless it means alternating vodka with bourbon. The work shoes were, let us say, very sturdy with a slip-resistant sole. I could see where this would come in handy unless I did indeed intend to ski in them.

All this trying on was accomplished while finding a place to lay my many layers of winter clothes and the shoes I had come to the store wearing. Trying on shoes may not be considered an aerobic activity, but performed in three shirts and one sweater, it certainly became something of a workout. Throw in the bonus of hobbling around the store, one shoe on and one shoe off, just like Diddle Dibble Dumpling My Son John. Walking through a store in your stocking feet in the winter means one thing … wet feet. The only way to avoid this is to bring a runner, the ultimate luxury when shopping.

Runners are especially priceless when trying the single item worse than shoes: bras. You know you are with a very good man when he volunteers to come to the store with you and run (that’s what runners do … run) for different sizes of bras while you stand shivering in the fitting room. Sure, it makes him look a little creepy, pawing through racks of undergarments, but you’re willing to have him be humiliated or even arrested if it means you don’t have to get redressed between try-ons. Remember not to spend all your cash on underwear. You might need some for bail money.

Marla Boone resides in Covington and writes for Miami Valley Today

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