I am not sure where the bond between a woman and her shoes started, but it is STRONG. It's not quite as durable as the bond between mother and child, but it's robust nonetheless. And before I had children, the love I felt for things in my life fell in the following order:
All the generations of females in my family have been best friends. My grandmother with my mother to me then to my daughter. The friendship crossed generations and was another sustaining bond in all of our lives. The funny thing is that shoes almost destroyed that connection on several occasions.
For Hadley and I, it was 'Splody Feet. For my mother and grandmother, it was an altogether different scenario. But for all of us it came down to shoes.
In a split second, a mother can make an error in judgment that will disturb her forever. My grandmother made that kind of mistake in the 1950s. It haunted her and my mother for the duration of their relationship. I am sharing this harrowing tale to keep other mothers from making the same miscalculation.
My mother always dreamed of being a dancer. Let's see how I can put this delicately? My Mom has zero dance ability. That's not entirely accurate. My Mom has zero dance ability in her legs and feet. If there was a style of dance that required stationary legs and flailing arms, she could be a CONTENDER. But there is not; therefore, she is not.
But I digress.
Like most little girls of the 1950s, she had been brain-washed by that little moppet in ruffled underpants who sang and danced her way into America's heart, Shirley Temple. Her success meant tap lessons for legions of chubby-legged lasses, including my Mom.
My grandmother was a product of The Depression. The frugality of that era always colored the choices that she made. She had no qualms about buying my mother tap lessons, but she balked at the extravagance of tap shoes.
My mother fancied of a pair of spanking new stompers embellished with brazen bows. She knew that once placed on her magical tootsies, she'd be overwhelmed by the talent of dance unseen in small-town or big-city girls alike. My mother pinned her lifetime hopes and dreams on a pair of black patent leather shoes.
Meanwhile, my grandmother shuttled a pair of dingy brown lace-up shoes to the cobbler and had taps installed on the soles. But, of course, to get the complete picture, one has to remember the shoes Forrest Gump wore with his leg braces as Jenny shouted, "Run Forrest! Run!" Except for my Mom and her tap shoes... well, they did not go together like peas' n carrots.
Those brown monstrosities denied my mother of all joy for tap. After a few lessons, where she spent the majority of her time lusting after the other girl's shiny shoes, she gave up her illusion and retired her orthopedic nightmares to the back of her closet.
So thrifty was my grandmother that when she found the discarded tap shoes, she removed and saved the taps for future generations of females in the family. Stored safely in the top drawer of a desk, they were a yearly reminder of my mother's Bitter Unrealized Dreams when she visited her old bedroom.
We all heard about "what could have been" for over fifty years had my mother possessed the correct footwear. My usually passive father was often driven to teeth-gnashing and forehead smacking every time the subject came up. So naturally, my grandmother wished she'd just paid the flippin' dough for a bit of peace of mind.
Then one day, my Mom and I visited her neighbor, the mother of a six-year-old girl. As she showed us her lovely home, she introduced us to her e-Bay room. The space housed odds and ends that she hoped to clear out via the internet. On top of the bed sat a brand new pair of girl's tap shoes. Of course, this vision inspired yet another rendition of The Tap Shoes Tragedy from my mother.
Upon hearing the gut-wrenching story, Jennifer picked up the shoes, handed them to my mother, and said, "You're at peace now."
With that one kind gesture, the cycle of torture ended. Except for my father. That night, he was treated to a "hands in shoes" recital on the granite countertops, as he ate dinner. There has been mention of a return engagement from someone who will remain unnamed, but I can tell you it wasn't my father.
Let's talk about shoes! Pictures would be appreciated!