Monday, December 06, 2004

Manolo Blancs? No, I'll just take the boxes.

I have big feet.

Not really that big, though. No where near the size of the clod-hoppers on Yao Ming or Shaq. Not even big like Bozo, or Chuckles (may he rest in peace), or Crusty for that matter. (had to throw in a reference for the younger generation) My feet are just barely out of the normal range (like their owner). Normal sizes for men's shoes start out around a 7 and go up, in half-sizes (which has always been a mystery to me, but who am I to question the status quo?) to size 12.

I wear a 13.

Of course, that's a good thing. I am 6' 3", and if my feet were any smaller I would have a (greater) propensity to fall flat on my face. As it is, it's all my little piggies can do to keep my lumbering bulk from falling and crushing them. (Although, that's highly unlikely unless I somehow collapse in an Indian-style position) But I can imagine their panic as they look up and see me always lurking one step behind. (Fortunately, they have yet to convince a judge to issue a TRO) "DIG! DIG! DIG!" the Right Big Toe shouts to his teammates as they pull together and push against the ground for all they're worth. Somehow, miraculously, they manage to overcome the twin forces of gravity and inertia and lob the metaphysical, metaphorical, metatarsal ball back to the Left team. Left and Right keep this lob-and-volley game up wherever I go. They're pretty evenly matched, but occasionally one will score a point on the other, leaving in the aftermath an assortment of bumps, scrapes, contusions and delusions.

Anyway...

I needed to buy some new shoes for work. I'm not saying I'm cheap or anything, but I think I've managed to nurse an extra year out of the shoes I've been wearing. But here lately, they've been looking extra sorry. To the point where even I am beginning to be embarrassed. So, it's time to buy a new pair.

I went to the mall this weekend and brought along Mrs. A for moral support, reinforcement, and just because I like having her around. Started at the shoe department of Jacques Pennet (my French tailor). I want brown shoes for work. Not real dressy, since it's just slacks and button-downs most of the time, but not too casual either. I'm not going to be hiking across mountains or wading through forest streams. And brown is better than black, because I can wear the same pair of shoes whether my slacks are khaki, blue, green, or stained the color of congealed gravy. Oh, wait a minute. That IS congealed gravy.

My selection is limited by the above criteria, but is further limited by the amount I'm willing to pay. I have no problem shelling out a hundred bucks or more for a pair of nice dress shoes. (with leather soles that can be replaced, of course) But I have issues paying big bucks for casual shoes with non-repairable, non-replaceable polyurethane soles (thought those soles are more lightweight and comfy). So, I'm browsing the shoe department, which, being a week-end in December, just so happens to be filled with a hundred other desperate souls, and I finally find a pair that meets my approval. Funny, but they look pretty much like my old ones. They're sitting on a stack of boxes and so we look for my size. Hmmm. Here's a 12. Maybe I should try them on? So I sit down and take my other shoes off and ... no good. A 12 is just not going to work. Mrs. A takes the initiative (I told you I like having her around) and tracks down a sales clerk sales associate employee and asks, "Do you have this in a size 13?" The sweet young thing she's asked scuttles off to "The Back Room" to see. In just a bit, she's back shaking her head. "No, I'm sorry. We don't have that in a 13." Okay. No problem. I've encountered this before. "What about this one?" I ask, pointing to Plan B. Once again she heads off and reappears (quicker this time) shaking her head once more. All right, this is getting ridiculous. "Ok, what about this one?" I ask, pointing to a much pricier shoe than I really wanted to buy, but hey, desperate measures and all that.

She doesn't even bother going to the back room. "No, I'm sorry." Feeling just a little exasperated, I say (just a little snarkily, for which I feel guilty later), "Well, can you tell me what you DO have in a size 13?" This sweet young child looks at me and says, "We do have some larger sizes, but they're mostly in the younger styles."

...

...

...

Ouch. Direct hit.

"Okay, thanks. We'll keep looking," I say as I slink away. After she's gone to help the next person, it dawns on me just how ridiculous an answer she gave me. "What do all those 'younger' guys wear on their feet when they get to be old farts like me?" I wonder. Do their feet shrink as they age? Mrs. A insists that they chop off their toes. I eye her nervously.

By this point, Mrs. A and I decide to head back to the car in defeat (or on de feet, if you prefer) and just come back another non-weekend day when perhaps the place won't be so crazy. On the way out, though, we decide to check out the shoe department of one of the other big anchor tenants in the mall.

Whooie! These folks are right PROUD of their merchandise. I do spot one pair that has promise, but they're $90. I turn to go, but then notice a sign that says "All regular priced shoes 33% off." Sweet. That's makes them only $60, which is still more than I LIKE to pay, but not more than I'm WILLING to pay. We ask the Shoe Lady if perhaps, just maybe, it might be possible that they carry this make and model in a size 13? She heads off to "The Back Room" (Hey! They have one here too!) to check and while she's gone, Mrs. A notices a brown steamer trunk sitting on the floor displaying several selections of footwear. "Hey, maybe if they don't have those shoes in your size you can see if they've got another one of those trunks and you can wear them." Have I mentioned I love this woman!?!

(My dad always did accuse me of throwing away the shoes and wearing the boxes)

The Shoe Lady comes back with a BIG box in her hands. Success!

Mrs. A comments that we need to keep the box for next year to fill up for Operation Christmas Child. (With the amount of stuff you can fit in this box, some kid is going to be VERY happy)

And yes, today I am wearing my spiffy new brown shoes.

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