Shoes tell wealth of stories

Imelda Marcos purportedly had more than 2,700 pairs of shoes during her husband’s leadership of the Philippines.
That is, without a doubt, categorically excessive. But when she and her husband were exiled to Hawaii in 1986 and the sheer extreme of her extravagance was revealed, a very small part of me thought . . . hmmm . . . that’s a lot of shoes.
Not that I would condone taking from one’s countrymen to accessorize to excess, but still, 2,700 pairs of shoes. Wowee.
I may not have that many pairs of shoes, but I do love shoes. My love for shoes falls somewhere between paper and office supplies.
However, where my admiration for paper knows no bounds, shoes, on the other hand, must fall quite specifically within certain parameters. I wobble like a drunken sailor in anything higher than two inches and look even less glamorous than said sailor, so best to avoid stilettos of any variety.
Then there’s the pointed toe. When Prada came out with shoes that could take out an eye or pick a lock, I thought I might have to re-examine my obsession. But I just looked the other way when my daughters sported such madness.
I don’t like red shoes, though my mother loves red high heels. Slipping on a pair of her favourites from a fairly extensive inventory of red shoes brightened even her bleakest days.
I plan to wear a red pair of heels one day, having practised my balance beforehand, to honour my mother. She’d like that. She’d like it more if I could walk in them without crashing to my knees or spraining my ankle.
She could do it. She wore heels every day that she stood at the front of her classroom at Alberton Central School and she did it with such ease.
When my mother came home with a new pair of red heels, she always modelled them for us, and she reminds me now of Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz” and her ruby slippers. My mother would pull her skirt in tight against her knees and turn her foot back and forth—and she looked breathless and happy.
Red shoes did that for her.
So, heels, pointed toes, and colour all help me to exercise reasonable restraint when admiring shoes. I do love to drool over running shoes with brightly-coloured trim and round-toed boots in every shade of brown. I also like buckles and lace-ups and slip-ons.
I like quiet shoes, though. I’m not fond of those shoes that clip or clop. I could never have been a tap-dancer; it’s just too noisy.
I remember singing as a child at the festival in the auditorium upstairs at the Memorial Arena. The person in charge would put a number up on the easel and that was our cue, it was time to go up.
No loud announcements, just whispers and nods, but still some little girls seemed to enjoy the clickety-clack along the floor and up the steps to the centre of the stage, as if they knew it was a special event because they had their noisy shoes on.
I would have preferred sock feet rather than my patent leathers that no matter how I tried still made an awful lot of noise.
I check out the shoes people wear, not in a judgmental kind of way but just out of curiosity. You can tell a lot from people’s shoes. You can see sadness or if life has been kind. It’s all there under the hem, at the end of their legs.
I especially wince at children wearing shoes too big, whose feet slide around and I can almost imagine toes digging into the sole to hold the shoe in place.
I applaud seniors who have abandoned fashion for a sturdy pair of sneakers that gives them secure mobility.
I remember seeing a very elderly woman in Toronto years ago walking her three-legged terrier. The woman had on a black-and-white checkered raincoat complete with a fedora. On her feet were bright pink high-top running shoes.
“There’s a story,” I thought, nodding my head.
Maybe that’s why I love shoes, for the stories they tell.

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