I’m almost ashamed to write this post. To admit I am capable of being so … so … so superficial. Such a victim of fashion. But I was a kid at the time. What did I know? At least that’s how I’ve decided to look at it.
If it wasn’t for today’s WordPress Daily Prompt I would probably never have mentioned it. Hell, I would never have thought of it. Period. “Was there a toy or thing you always wanted as a child, during the holidays or on your birthday, but never received? Tell us about it.”
In my case it wasn’t a toy. Nor did I always want “it”. It wasn’t a holiday or my birthday either. It was just an ordinary Saturday. I was about 11 or twelve years old. No more than 13 to be sure.
As was the custom then, my mother had her hair done every Saturday. Women still used rollers in their hair. Pre Vidal Sassoon cuts. Pre blow dryers. Men still went to barbers. Women went to hairdressers.
Anyway, I often went with my mother. It was our girls’ day out. She and her twin sister went to the same salon, so the three of us would always have lunch when they were done; and then we’d go shopping. We
didn’t always buy anything, but we did spend a few hours browsing, touching, admiring and even trying on. Then we’d go visit my grandmother, or great grandmother, before going home. I really looked forward to Saturdays.
This one time there was another woman at the hairdressers’ with her daughter. We were about the same age. As it happens, my mother knew this woman, although I’d never met the daughter before. When I looked down and saw her shoes my heart did a flip. A major flip. My mouth dropped open. Actually it started to water. I could not stop staring at her feet.
She was wearing a pair of Capezio ballet flats!
Capezio was in its heyday at the time. They made all the ballerinas’ ballet slippers. And they had just come out with a line of ballet flats one could wear on the street. To be honest, there was virtually no sole on them. And they had absolutely no support. But they were hot, hot, hot. If I remember correctly, Audrey Hepburn had worn a pair in one of her movies and that was all it took.
Every girl in the world wanted a pair. Me included.
Imagine my surprise when I saw them on this girl’s feet. I’d had no idea they were available in Canada. As it turns out, only 1 store had them. I’ve been racking my brain trying to remember the name, but can’t. I see the store clearly. It was on Queen Mary Road, in Montreal. It was a tiny store, literally lined with shoe boxes. They were stacked from the floor to the ceiling, from wall to wall.
My poor mother. I bent her ear the entire morning. It’s a wonder we ever got out of the beauty salon, because I kept lifting the dryer up so she would hear me. She kept telling me her hair would never dry. I was oblivious. All I wanted was those damn shoes. I begged. I pleaded. I cajoled. I whined. I sniffled. I snivelled. In hindsight, I was a real pain in the ass.
Never had my mother seen me so passionate. So determined. So enthusiastic. So needy. She resisted, insisting they would not be good for my feet. A shoe freak herself, this shocked me. What woman gives a shit if the shoes she wants are good for her feet?
Eventually my mother succumbed and said we could go and “look at them”. She still wasn’t committing to buying them, but we were going. It was probably in self defence. Anything to shut me up.
Can you imagine how excited I was? I practically danced out of the salon.
We couldn’t get there quickly enough for me. It was only about a 10-minute drive, but to me it seemed like hours had passed. I flew out of the car and literally ran into the store. Which, as I recall, was packed with women and their teenage daughters. My heart sank. I just knew in my bones they were all there for Capezios. Competition!!!
A nightmare, to be sure.
Finally my turn came. I told the sales woman what I was looking for and gave her my shoe size. In those days they also measured your feet. They had those contraptions you put your foot on, and they moved a little lever up or down, to see what size you really were. We women have always lied about the size of our feet. And we probably always will.
Off she went. She returned with just 1 box. My heart sank. What if they didn’t fit!! Only 1 pair! This was serious.
When she lifted the lid of the box my heart sank even further. They were bright orange. My mother was never going to go for it. Bright orange?? Very cool today, but back then?? We were practical. Orange was not practical.
No wonder she had them in stock. Nobody would buy them.
Ask me if I cared. No sir! My mother, on the other hand, looked grim. I tried to head her off at the pass, before she could say “no”. I had them on my feet in a nano second. Well, almost a nano-second. They had a tiny little strap that went across the instep, which you had to button and unbutton. It was so minuscule you needed a special hook to get it done. Took some fiddling.
Truth be told they were a bit snug. Not that I said so. I pranced around the store, stopping to look in all the mirrors. To admire them on my feet. I was in heaven. All the girls in the store had their eyes peeled on my mother. Instinctively they knew my fate was in her hands. Instinctively they knew the colour was going to be a problem. They all felt my pain.
For the first time in my life I totally appreciated the importance of female bonding.
Again I begged. I pleaded. I cajoled. I whined. I sniffled. I snivelled. Yes, I was still being a major pain in the butt.
What saved me, in the end I think, was the fact this was uncharacteristic behaviour for me. I was not a spoiled brat. I rarely asked for anything. And I’d never put on a performance like this.
“Daddy isn’t going to like these shoes, you know, Fransi” said my mother as she paid, somewhat reluctantly, for the shoes. “He’s not going to like them one bit. Mark my words, the first words out of his mouth will be, these have no support. And you know, as well as I do, he’s going to have something to say about the colour”.
Right she was.
But possession is nine tenths of the law.
They were mine! I wore those shoes until they were literally in tatters. Shredded. Nothing left but the buttons.
Not sure I have ever loved a pair of shoes as much as I loved them. They were the beginning of my love affair with shoes. Umm, make that fetish. Just call me Imelda.