Cute, N’est Pas?

October 26, 2006

Cute, n’est pas?

With the cold weather upon us the time has come for me to put up the tres chic beaded leather flip flops and start wearing something that covers my feet –which is a boon to the rest of society since pedicures generally fall very, very low on my to-do list.

The everyday shoes I have been wearing for the last two years of cold seasons are more than comfortable, but a bit on the big and clunky side.  I loved them when I got them, but I was also post-partum and sleep deprived, so my judgement was skewed, clouded, nay, even impaired.  And, of course, fashion changes.  So, this year I decided to try to change with it a bit and find something a little more streamlined.  The picture actually makes the suede parts of the shoes look much lighter than they are, so try to imagine them not quite so two-toned.  They are cuter that way.

But this story is not about the shoes, it is about the shopping adventure to get them.   I dropped husband and the three girls off at martial arts class and then Tank Boy and I set out on our shopping trip.  I had several stops to make and a limited amount of time, so I was in woman-on-a-mission mode.  I put the needs of my family first and saved the shoe store stop for last, so time was of the essence as they say.

I entered my shoe Mecca and marched resolutely towards the size 8 clearance rack (you can see in the picture that I actually wear an 8.5, but I always start with the 8’s, just hoping . . .).  So, as I was saying, I was headed for the clearance rack and noticed a teenage girl sitting on one of the little mirrored-for-feet benches by my destined isle, dropping shoes on the floor.  Not trying them on, just taking them out of the box and dropping them on the floor.  As I approached she looked up at my son from behind her disheveled hair and said, “Is that a boy?”

Now, you have to imagine her tone of voice.  Everything she said was spoken with abruptness, almost gruffness, kind of growly, but with the undertone of desire to connect with someone — abruptly.

“Is that a boy?”

“Umm, yes,” I said politely, all the while thinking, “Boy clothes, boy hair, boy shoes . . . what kind of crazy question is that?”

I turned down the size 8 isle and she followed me.

“Is he yours?” she wanted to know.

“Yes, he is,” I said.

“Do I know you?” she grunted.

“I don’t think so,” I said.

“I think I know you from school” she asserted.

“Where do you go to school?” I asked.

“St. J~’s” she said.  “Are you a teacher?”

“Well, I was a long time ago,” I replied, “but not there.”  I was really wanting her to leave me alone so I could look at the shoes.  Shoe shopping, as you know, is serious business.  And it’s challenging enough with a two-year-old.  A girl just doesn’t need a nosy teenager thrown into the mix.

“Do you know what kind of school St. J~’s is?” she asked?

“No,” I said, trying to keep my voice light and friendly to hide my wearied annoyance.

“It’s a school for the mentally disturbed,” she explained furtively.  “But I’m not that disturbed.  Them kids want to kill people.  I just want to kill Satan.”

And then she was gone, just like that, around the corner and into the size 8.5’s.  If we had been in a movie, or a Scooby Doo cartoon, she would have flourished a cape and a puff of smoke would have cleared to reveal her hasty disappearance. 

“Super duper,” I thought as I picked up my son, having decided it would be best to carry him for the rest of our shoe shopping sojourn.  As I continued down the rack of 8’s I decided that it wasn’t so bad, really, because if you have to be out to get someone I suppose Satan is the best choice.  This thought made me feel a little better until another thought creeped in:  what if she decides I’m Satan, or Tank Boy is Satan?”  That occurred to me as I was finishing the size 8 rack and realized I was going to have to round the corner into the size 8.5’s.

And there she was, sitting on her bench, dropping more shoes on the floor.

I tried not to make eye contact, to pretend I was so absorbed in the shoes that I didn’t realize she was still there.  It didn’t work.

She rushed up.  “You know how when you were teaching, some kids would chew on their pencils?  Well I eat mine.  I chew them up and swallow them.  The eraser, the metal, the wood, all of it.”

“That’s got to be bad for your teeth and digestive system,” I said.  What else could I say?  Well, probably anything could have been better because at that she opened her mouth to bare and chomp her teeth at me.

“I drink lots of milk.  My teeth are perfect!” she said.

Her mother, who I must say had been doing a darn fine job of keeping her distance, then beckoned her daughter to another part of the store. 

So if my shoes don’t look all that cute to you, just remember that I bought them under duress.  But they are quite comfortable.

And George, if you’re out there, Tewt the Newt says hello.

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