Saturday, May 9, 2009

"I rely on my sole to carry me through."

I fell in love with a pair of shoes the other day in Tokyo.

This is not like me. I am not a Shoe Person. I have very tiny but wide feet, which means only very square things can go on my feet. This was unfortunate enough in America, but more so in Japan where the style is Very Pointy. As the shoes I brought with me have slowly worn out, I have bought a couple of replacements, but only with much chagrin. Not only the shape, but Japanese shoes have zero padding. I have walked up and down the aisles of dozens of shoe stores, poking a finger into every pair I pass, but not a single one feels like more than a single sheet of cardboard. It's become much like my search for comfortable sheets, when I can only find ones that feel like sandpaper. Seriously, Japan? Is it necessary to make yourself suffer this much?

But I go into this store on Takeshita Doori anyways, even though the mannequins are glaring at me with disdain. I am not tiny and cute enough to shop here, they say. Sure enough, looking through the racks I see nothing much that I like - of the fashion that doesn't much like me. I wander into the shoe corner to put off passing the cashier empty-handed a moment longer.

They are on a shelf close to the ground, between something that might glow in the dark and something that a snake might consider a long-lost relative. They have a slight heel but not enough that I would wobble, are red leather with a delicate gold pattern, are rounded at the toe enough for my feet to fit but disguising their true blockish nature. They cost twice as much as any shoes I've ever bought. I never wear heels. I have absolutely nothing that would match them. But my heart has decided it also is red leather with a delicate gold pattern, and nothing will suit it but that it has these shoes to match.

"I don't have anything that would go with it!" I say.

"You can buy an outfit!" my heart says.

"I'm not sure anything would," I say. "They're... a little tacky."

"..." My heart says, "I'm a little tacky too."


When I take them to the counter the cashier asks, "Would you like two?"

What? Is she suggesting that they would sell me just one shoe of a pair? How would that benefit anyone - I'd be one-shoed and they'd be stuck with one unsellable. Unless they're trying to be delicate in case they have a customer with only one leg who doesn't want to take home a useless shoe, and then if another one-legged customer came along they can be delicate with them as well, as well as thrifty. Do people with only one leg even wear high heels?

I said I wanted both. It's possible something was lost in translation. I took my bag with my new shoes up the narrow staircase, light of wallet, light of heart.

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