Just ask Dorothy or Cinderella. I have always loved shoes. I still have the pair of little red sandals that I wore when I was 18 months old. I fondly remember a pair of red suede tie-up oxfords that I wore with white knee socks, a navy pleated skirt, and a bright red cable-knit cardigan when I was in the fifth grade. I loved that outfit. When I taught, I sang the “New Shoes Song” to my students. They would prance into the classroom with their spanking new shoes, point their toes in front of me, and say, “Look, Mrs. Horton!”
I was thinking of all of this as I switched out my winter shoes for my summer shoes the other day. I have a lot of shoes. I did not count them. One of the pairs I came across was my penny loafers, the cordovan Bass Weejuns of my youth. Now, there is a pair of shoes. I have two pair of Weejuns. The other pair of penny loafers is the Palomino color. They are the newest ones, and when I saw them, I HAD to have them.
In 1965, I changed schools. I had lived in Indiana all my life, and moved to North Carolina when my mom married a Marine. Moving from the Midwest to the South was pretty much a huge culture shock. I didn’t understand half of what was said. Single syllable words were stretched out to two or more syllables, like “see it” for sit. The lights were “cut on.” Books were “toted,” and the greeting was, “Hey,” not hi or hello.
The biggest problem for me was shoes, though. My parents’ income was not one to support brand name clothing or shoes. In Indiana, the name didn’t matter; it was just the style that counted. At my new school, it was the total opposite. And I didn’t have the Villager dresses or the Bass loafers that the other girls did. I felt like I stuck out like a sore thumb. It was hard enough to be the “new girl,” let alone be the incorrectly dressed one.
So, in 1982, seventeen years after the fact, I bought my Bass Weejuns. I know it was 1982, because I stuck new pennies in the loafers. Last summer, while thrift shopping with my sisters, I found the blonde-colored pair. I love those shoes, and wear them often, not just on Throw-back Thursday.
They remind me that I can afford now, what I couldn’t then. Some things have stuck with me a lifetime, and yes, I am a little shallow. Even though it is my perception, cute shoes mean the difference between feeling good and feeling great and fitting in. Hey, maybe it’s not just me. Let’s ask Cinderella and Dorothy and Carrie Bradshaw.