Published: May 1st 2012May 1st 2012
I managed just fine in those black heels. By "manage" I mean I tolerated walking a whole five city blocks in them without twisting my ankle. I finally told Jeremy we should take a taxi the rest of the way to the theater. It was cold and windy; he obliged. I held a cup of hot coffee close to my body and shuffled into the theater. "No outside drinks allowed" so I stood in the foyer, nursing my coffee. That's when I met her. A pretty Latin woman dressed in a long black wool coat. She stood there, same as I, savoring the last bit of her latte. I looked down past her fishnets, to the two weapons she wore on her feet; six-inch patent leather black peep-toe stilettos.
"Your shoes are to die for!" I say to her.
She smiles broadly. "Believe it or not, they're actually comfortable."
"I don't believe you," I reply.
She thinks I'm joking.
"No, really! They are."
"No they're not," I reiterate. Sweat pants are comfortable. Grandma's couch is comfortable. Fluffy slippers are comfortable. What I was looking at, shoes named after daggers, are not comfortable.
tells me as she slips off one shoe, revealing a Dr. Scholl's insert, like that changes everything.
"Well....that would make a difference I suppose," I say and decide to back down, "I should try that with my shoes." Sure.
She grins thinking she's finally made me see reason.
"Comfortable or not, you really look amazing," I tell her. "By the way, I'm Andrea."
"Nice to meet you. I'm Maya."
Maya goes on, "You know Andrea, I got these shoes from Aldo for $100 and they are much more comfortable than the Louis Vuitton ones I own. I have these exact shoes from Louis, and I swear I just cannot wear them."
"So they just sit in your closet?" I wonder out loud.
"Yes! They're horrible. The toe is so pointy and narrow...I just can't do it."
Curiosity gets the best of me. "Ok, tell me, how much were the Louis Vuitton shoes?"
She grins and looks down bashfully. "I can't say," she tells me.
"Oh sure you can! What difference does it make? You're never going to see me again."
"Well, I think, well, my husband bought them for
me and they were about, I'd say....$1,100."
Ouch! Instead of blurting out the obvious "You could feed a small country with that" line, I opt for, "Well, the shoe is classic and designer and I'm sure they're beautiful."
She looks relieved that I seem to understand her indulgence and then decides to reveal, "That's what I thought! So I bought them in TWO colors!"
Now I give up.
"It was so nice to meet you Maya and I'll be sure to check out Aldo before I leave town."
She hugs me. "Great meeting you Andrea! Meet me in the lobby at intermission and give me your number!"
Jeremy and I walk away and once we're out of ear shot he says, "That is ridiculous. Just plain ridiculous. There is no reason whatsoever to spend $1,100 on a pair of shoes."
In my never ending quest to be open minded and reasonable I say, "For you and I it would be ridiculous, yes. But, she can probably afford it. If you've got that much money to just throw around, then what difference does it make if it's on shoes?"
Jeremy's not biting. "Its
not about being able to afford the shoes. It's about shoes being worth
$1,100. No shoe is actually worth
that much. That
is what is ridiculous."
I know he's right. But obviously some people are buying the thousand dollar shoes and to them I'm sure it is worth it.
"I think its all relative," I tell him.
We stand on the balcony overlooking the theater lobby sipping our Merlot. The Chicago Theater is magnificent. You feel like you've stepped back in time surrounded by gaudy crystal chandeliers, ornate gilded moldings, the grand staircase with brass banisters. A chauffeur pulls a swank Mercedes with darkened windows to the entrance. He opens the car doors for the lady and gentleman inside. She steps out adorned in fur coat and heavy jewels tugging at her ear lobes.
Taking a moment to process the ambiance, I rationalize, "You know, Jeremy, depending who you ask, all of this is ridiculous."
I think back to Africa. There was a man selling his hand carvings outside of our campground in Tanzania. The carving that caught my eye was a mother lion gripping her cub in her mouth. It was unique and beautiful
and he was only asking $20. I wanted it, but was seriously low on cash. The man said, "You give me your shoes and I give you this."
Without thinking I blurted out, "No way! These shoes were $60!"
Shame hit me in the gut. The African artist said nothing. He just looked at the ground, away from me. I knew what he was thinking, "No shoe is actually worth
I felt embarrassed to be wearing $60 hiking shoes. I didn't try explaining to him, "It's all relative....don't you see?"
Rather, in that moment, I vowed to never spend that much on shoes again. In the decade since, I can't even enumerate how many times I've broken that vow, probably twice in the last month....that I can remember anyway.
I have to smile though, thinking of Maya trying to trade her thousand dollar stilettos for the carving. The African man would laugh. Not interested. He'd be better off with the twenty dollars in his pocket.
Maya would say, "But these are LOUIS VUITTON!"
He'd reply, "Louis who?"
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