Some people have a fascination with shoes and some do not share this interest. You might recall when it was revealed that Imelda Marcus, First Lady of the Philippines, had a shoe collection of some 3,000 pair. In those days, that translated into opulence and decadence. By today’s standards, a measly 3,000 pair would imply that the owner must be living in a van under a bridge. Men and women alike share in the fascination with shoes, both contributing to the billions-of-dollars industry.
I have gone through shoe phases in my life. As a young boy, I had dress shoes for school and for church; play shoes and summer shoes. Summer shoes were the annual summer pair I received along with my brother as we were dressed largely as twins when very young. The summer shoes were boat shoes, flat, canvas shoes. If mine were blue, my brother’s would be green. Typically a pair would last through the summer time vacation and by Fall, our feet grew out of them. The came the time for new ‘school shoes.’
In high school, I followed the fad. I don’t recall ever wearing sneakers (except for gym class), but some sort of brushed leather or suede shoes…sometimes with a tassel and sometimes with a buckle. In my 20’s I got along with black tassel loafers and was well-known for that style. To this day, I wear most often a simple black slip-on. No fuss, no muss. I buy a couple pairs at a time and wear them until they look like I really do live in a van under a bridge. It’s the appeal of comfort, balanced with price and style.
My lazy attitude for shoes does not mean however that I don’t look at other people’s shoes. Just the other day, I noticed a pair of shoes worn by a young-ish man. They fit his look perfectly. He was wearing stylish athletic wear and his shoes were neat and clean, laces undone and tongues standing straight up and out of the shoe. I would be afraid of walking right of such a pair, but ‘each to his own.’ On the female side of shoes, what I notice is bling. Shoes for women seem to be decorated with various things as jewels, spikes, fabrics, flowers, etc. These catch the eye but more so do stilettos, which appear to be impractical and dangerous. Yet, when I see them worn, they look elegant and those who wear them seem confident in their step.
A friend texted me lately about returning from a road trip. He recalled his special shoes for such road trips and how they are so comfortable. Worn to a perfect fit, we might say. He was musing over all the places his shoes have been. That is an interesting thought. Where ever we go, out shoes go with us and at the end of the day, we take them off and while we say we are giving our feet a rest, I should think the shoes is saying, “Free at last.”
Shoes, when it comes down to their constancy in our lives, might then be considered part of our ‘intimate apparel.’ Our shoes go with us every step of the way all day long. And, isn’t it true that even while we may have a collection of shoes, there is always the favorite pair. There is always that one pair that we’ve had for years and we just can’t throw them away. Maybe it’s the memories attached to the shoe and, of course, the comfort of a perfect fit that keeps us from separating. This must be the reason that old shoes and old friends are often closely associated as John Selden (English jurist, 1584-1654) suggests, “Old friends are best. King James used to call for his old shoes; they were the easiest for his feet.”