The Nike saleswoman said I could wear my new black/white/dark grey Air Zoom Structure 19 shoes for 30 days. If they were uncomfortable, she promised, I could return them, no matter how beaten up they had gotten. So, with the $130 purchase on my credit card, and my old, brightly colored Sacony Hurricanes in the Nike box, I began my stroll.
Because I'm a goofy sort of person who assigns human emotions to appliances, articles of clothing, furniture, and any other objects, I apologized to my Sacony's.
"I'm sorry," I said, imagining that the gym shoes had been wounded by my new allegiance. Perhaps they were also humiliated by being stowed in the foreign Nike carton. "You're adorable and comfy," I soothed, "but I need a darker pair for dressier occasions."
I can blame my quest for dark gym shoes on my daughter Faith, who worries whenever I wear my black Mephisto sandals with the two-inch wedge heels. Her fear erupted when she and I were walking on the back lot of a Hollywood studio. The sidewalk was uneven, my shoe shimmied a bit, I swayed, and she grabbed me with, "Mom!"
Perhaps my daughter had been influenced by all of the comedies and dramas filmed there, for her horror immediately sped to: "You could fall, break a hip, we'd have to call an ambulance, and you'd spend your vacation in a hospital!"
I had originally chosen the Mephistos because I walk at least a mile a day, and that brand is touted for its comfort. And with the higher heel, I could still look stylish, and taller.
Elevation has long been important to me because I am a wee four-feet, nine-inches. When younger, I made it to four-feet, eleven; but alas, age has elected to chip me away, as if I were a Christmas tree that had to be trimmed to fit through the door.
On fancy occasions, if I were going from apartment to car to venue, I'd swap my Sacony's for dressy high-heeled shoes or sandals. But, as other wearers of these varieties can attest, a good part of those evenings are spent longing for the moment when back at home, we can shuck and walk barefoot.
Recently, on a long walk to visit a friend, I had rejected my Sacony's for a pair of cute Tom's ankle boots with a thick, two-inch heel. They cause no pain; so I figured I could appear taller, and perhaps rise to the height of someone's chest, rather than waist.
Alas, part of my journey included crossing a bridge that had nostalgically retained its original bricks. As I tiptoed across, hands stretched out like an aerialist, I felt myself becoming dizzy. I safely made it to the other side, but vowed not to ever again repeat that path with that footwear.
As you can probably tell, shoes have long been an issue in my life. Actually, shoes + height. I can trace it to my teenage years. During the span, 1952-1956, when I attended Roosevelt High School, in Chicago's Albany Park neighborhood, my chums were shod in white buck.
Because my petite, striving, mother believed I would have a better shot at gaining a boyfriend if I were a few inches taller (slimmer, too, but that's a whole nother essay), she urged a pair of brown shoes with a wedge heel on her obedient daughter.
I'm certain she would've put me out the door in three-inch high heels if she didn't think school authorities would be sending me home with a note, or classmates would jeer.
Oh, I can hear you saying, "Why didn't you protest? Why didn't you tell Min that you preferred trotting the halls exactly as your peers?" If I tell you that not only was I short, but also tender toward my mother, would that satisfy your outrage? I adored her, and would never say or do anything that I believed might hurt her feelings.
Enough psych, back to shoes: After walking the mile back to my apartment in my new black Nike gym shoes ("athletic," if you prefer), I had fallen in love with their look and comfort. The arch is higher than that of the Sacony's, the heel is a tad elevated, and the fashion statement is "damn, they're cute!"
At home, I gently freed the Sacony's from the Nike box, and before placing them back in the closet, offered this: Sweetheart, please forgive me. We'll meet again when next I walk the park's quarter mile track. Until then, take a break. Gab with the rest of the shoes. Love you!