I like to keep my feet guessing, keep them on their toes. Figuratively only. It wouldn’t be kind to them to do so literally. Especially not when I need them onside for other things.
I imagine them saying to one another each morning or when we approach a Value Village, Oh God, What’s she going to put us in next? Whose shoes will we be wearing home today? I let them talk shit about me. They know I’ll never misuse them, I’m not the misusing type, but I do have a different foot philosophy that requires that they play along. I’d be nowhere without them.
It is in fact the case that if I find a newish pair of shoes I will almost certainly wear them out of the store after I flash the sticker at the cashier for scanning, fresh from having spent my shopping hour test driving them to make sure they’re “the ones.” That explains why, of course, the shoe department is always where I have to start. It is also an important part of grounding exercise. Focusing. Getting my head in the game. What happens in the shoe department is typically a harbinger of how the rest of the trip will go. Find a pair of Dansko or Clark’s or Romika or Reiker or Mephisto or Josef Siebel or, as was the case today, Ralph Lauren, and we’re away to the races, the rest of the trip will go swimmingly. Leave the shoe department empty-footed? We’re already defeated.
Walking with a friend last week, my shoes, “Grecian” she said, strappy they were, commanded our attention. Never taking credit for being assumed to have paid full price I tell her they were used. I could never do that, she says, pull on someone else’s foot issues. Pigeon toed, bow-legged, heel walkers, hammertoes, arches high and low. Never mind athletes foot and sweat and corns and bunions. Shoes are oblong vortices of all manner of nastiness.
Really? I say, It’s conditioning to my way of thinking. My feet never know what I’m going to throw at them next, they never get too cocky or comfortable, and nursing some chronic complaint. It’s a different complaint every day. They have to think fast. I never wear the same pair of shoes two days running. They’re never they formed to my feet. They’re always the feet of a stranger. And I think that keeps them nimble, taking nothing for granted.
And there’s always some use left in them, maybe a little, maybe a lot: they give me a chance to finish using them up, like leftovers, and they also give me a chance to own more pairs of well-made shoes than I’d ever own otherwise.
And I’ve never contracted athlete’s foot or gangrene or scurvy from any of my purchases.