Circle of Joy and Sorrow

Everything that exists is in a manner the seed of that which will be. -Marcus Aurelius

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Free with Pair of Shoes

Now I was in a shoe store last night shopping for an actual pair of heels. I told myself I wasn’t in there for heels to salsa. Yet there I was, one gold heel on foot and one in hand, when they rounded the corner. The mother stomps up the aisle with her terrible feather-wing hair and begins to shove boxes of shoes around. Her daughter shifts around behind her, clearly having meant to manage the shoe selection alone. “I don’t know what you want; I don’t know anything of what you want. You said you wanted a pair of shoes. Well, here are shoes!” Her daughter murmurs that she wanted clogs. “Clogs?! Well here are clogs, but I know they’re not what you want!” The daughter looks at the floor while she jerks her cross fish pendant back and forth on its cheap steel chain.

The woman figures out suddenly that I haven’t zoned her out drama, but I’ve sat down on the shoe stool to watch with one shoe in my hand. I smile like a neighbor who has no intention of going back to her roses. She looks back at her daughter for the first time, and explains that all there is to choose from will be on this one rack. All the other aisles have the same shoe, just in a different size. Her daughter touches one or two pairs, points to a pair of clogs with black flowers over the toes. Her mother looks at the price, looks at me. Her daughter’s not as grown up as I am, alone in the shoe store. The clogs are far better for her daughter than my sex-in-the-city heels. They’ll be cute with her daughter’s dress tomorrow night, so she takes both her daughter and her daughter’s new clogs, and she’s gone. I go back to admiring my ankles in the mirror.

Up at the cash register, the clogs have already been processed, and there’s no one else in line. The employee who takes my credit card and puts a rubber band around the box has textbook make-up. That’s what I’m thinking about when she reaches to get a store bag, and I tell her I don’t need one. Her hand pauses, and she looks at me as if I were speaking French. Here it is now, where I could speak of oil and the annoyance of driving to the recycling center. I could speak of a simple life with a pair of heels I’m hoping will work like Cinderella’s. Her head inches closer to me, and with a hushed whisper she inquires how I’ll plan to carry the shoes without a bag. I settle for, “I’ll just carry the box.”

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