Monday, February 22, 2010


I've got this little obsession with Chuck Taylor All Stars that I can't quite explain rationally. There used to be a Converse store nearby--my idea of paradise--that regularly featured some random color of Chucks on sale for under $20. Alas, the store is gone. Yesterday I went into a discount store looking for white towels. I just strolled through the shoe department because I thought I heard one of my children calling me. (My children are in their 30s and they live far, far away.) I'm lying. I walked through the shoe department because I'm weak. I found a pair of low-top baby blue Chucks cheap and in my size. But I sat there, looking at the shoes, telling myself I was stronger than the shoes. I put them back on the shelf and left the store. No shoes, no towels. All day today I've been thinking about those darned shoes, wondering if some other woman is wearing them now.

This shoe thing is not new for me. I wrote a piece about shoes in my book. Here's the piece I wrote.

A prayer for moderation . . .


I just found the shoes of my dreams online. They were horrifically expensive. My wedding dress didn’t cost as much as these shoes. I’ve never owned a single garment that cost as much as these shoes. I could have put tires on my car for the cost of these shoes. I just pushed the button to complete the sale. I don’t know whether to be thrilled or ashamed, but I can’t wait for them to arrive.

I always thought my daughter had a shoe obsession, but she didn’t get it from me. “Not me,” I protested. “Sure, I like shoes, but there’s no major fixation there. They’re just utilitarian items to me.”

But then my friend Kath was here visiting and made me face reality. She looked in my closet. My closet is not that big, but it’s almost obsessively neat. I’ve got three shelves of t-shirts, folded neatly. One shelf for long-sleeved shirts—dark colors on the left, light colors on the right. One shelf for short-sleeved shirts—dark colors on the left, light colors on the right. One shelf for sleeveless shirts—dark colors on the left, light colors on the right. I’m not obsessed—I just like to know where things are!

The jeans are on hangers—fat jeans, skinny jeans, cropped jeans, gardening jeans, dressy jeans, jeans I forgot I had.

I have almost no dressy clothes—they’re way in the back. I don’t get out much.

Then there are the shoes. Nine pairs of Chucks Taylor All Stars, mostly high-tops, in a variety of colors, on the top shelf. They are collector items, aren’t they? I even have a pair of high-top John Lennon peace Chucks. I don’t wear them often. On the floor—shoes on racks on the left (mostly black) and shoes on racks on the right (colors other than black).

So Kath is looking at the contents of my closet, she says, “Wow, you have a lot of shoes. My friend Ellie has almost 100 pairs of shoes. Can you imagine? Why would anyone need that many shoes?”

“I can’t imagine,” I sheepishly responded. “Never counted mine.”

So she started to count for me. She counted to 86. I almost had as many shoes as Ellie. She had a hard time believing anyone besides Imelda Marcos could have as many shoes as Ellie.

Then, in a moment of insanity, I confessed, “Actually, there are a few more. My winter shoes are in plastic bins under the bed in the guest room.”

“Winter shoes?” she exclaimed. “You have a separate category for winter shoes?”

I have summer shoes and spring shoes and winter shoes? Leather and fabric and black and colors other than black, flats and flip-flops and lace-up boots and three pairs of cowboy boots. (I’m particularly fond of the cowboy boots.)

She dragged out the bins of winter shoes from under the bed and continued the tally. She got to 100 and I covered my ears. I think she finally stopped at 108. As soon as the package arrives it will be 109. I do not have a shoe obsession. I swear.

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