“Time for new shoes” Carrie said. Again. She’d been urging me since December but an urgency in her tone signaled renewed priority. Perhaps the hole she first spotted had grown?
She was right, of course, but how do you say goodbye to a loyal friend? This pair, this tandem of black dress shoes that had served me so well all these years….these OVERACHIEVERS? I just couldn’t let go.
—So I reminded her, again, of how I’d purchased them for less than ten dollars. And I mentioned once more, that I’ve worn them for nearly five years. (But I held back their hidden treasure: that although they had laces I never untied them—just slipped them on and off…all in one smooth move).
“I’ll buy them for you!” she exclaimed, clearly frustrated. “It’s not the money,” I shot back. “They’re still good.”
(Ed. Note: They still had life, I swear. And they still brought comfort. If these shoes were dogs, I wondered, would Arthur put them down?).
“There’s a sale at Mar-Lou,” she announced. “We can go there today.”
Then I caved. I got real.
Fact was in recent months I’d been resting my shoes. Sometime after moving into Carrie’s in ’12, I found a new pair (still in the box), deep in the of womb my trunk. Must have been lodged there a while. A bigger size, still polished, it had just made the road trip to Lucy.
“Bring presentable shoes,” Stacy’d urged. “Of course,” I replied. “Listen,” I asked my Little One, “I’m not checking luggage so I’ll only bring one pair of shoes. Can I wear dress shoes with blue jeans?” “Since the 90’s, Dad!”
(Ed. Note 2: The newer footgear are larger, 13’s. Not that I tried them on or anything. If memory serves correctly I was leaning against the backwall at Nordstrom Rack, put on one, and it just felt right. Still, there’s something ego-boosting about over-sized shoes. One can just sense the women passing, eyeing the feet, and taking mental note).
So I caved, even though I don’t like shopping, particularly for shoes.
H says it’s a subliminal manifestation of my latent mixed feelings about our Grandpa Irv, (the career shoe salesman that hated our father). I say Hal’s wrong and is just full of applesauce. Fact is I’ve never driven flashy cars, worn jewelry, or for that matter, worshiped footwear.
Ironically, our dad always bought the shoes. Off-the-rack he’d pull them, always, at Diamond’s Men’s Wear. Style mattered not to Big Al, and if Norm Diamond sold it, it was good enough for his boys. (The whole process would take minutes. We ‘d try them on, I’m sure, but I can’t swear he ever made us walk around. It was more like “If the shoe fits, wear it.”).
There were exceptions, of course. Like baseball spikes. Buying these was special…to be savored…a process.
In Little League cleats were rubber. Not that they upped my game, but I recall the excitement of going with my dad to Blepp-Coombs, 5000 Euclid Avenue. Cleveland’s premiere sport goods store, it was in the same building as WHK.
By Pony’s, ‘twas metal, or steel, or whatever. Playing for Brooklyn, (I’d been drafted by Mr. Boman, an old White Sox coach), for the first time I was warned ‘bout my slide. “You can’t do that,” he said. “You’ll hurt someone.” “That’s how they slide on TV” I told him. “You’re not on TV,” he said. “Spikes down.” Who knew?
(I only played one year of Pony League. I don’t know why. The next time I donned my metal it was slow-pitch softball—Waxman Plumbing, and all that. Times changed, of course, and over time, styles changed. Hanging them up in the 80’s, I found myself in the minority. Rubber spikes were back, apparently safer. At some level, I was a stubborn fossil.
A fossil, I might add, that rarely bought shoes. It just wasn’t my thing. I mean I had one pair black, one pair brown, and one pair of sneakers. Who needed more? I’ve rationed my shoes, kept distance from shoe stores, stayed somewhat a fossil.
“Somewhat”. (Ed. Note 3: A few years ago while out shopping with Meredith we happened upon a pair of chartreuse sneakers. “These are perfect for you,” she advised. They were bought on the spot).
I wore those green things once. Maybe twice. They were tight. Soon, though, they went missing. Replacing them with a $4.99 pair from Payless, I never looked back. (Ed. Note 4: Carrie says my tennis shoes look like spats; a child asked if I stole them from a homeless guy).
I haven’t seen those luminous monstrosities in quite some time. I just remember they hurt. Still, no one said they were ugly, and they were definitely cool. I should try them again, I guess. Before Carrie gets sick of my spats. Before she wants to go shopping.

When the weather breaks I’ll grab them. They’re in the trunk of my car.


  1. alan wieder says:

    All I’m going to say is that you are even luckier than I thought you were to be with Carrie.

  2. Up From Dysfunction says:


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