Saturday, 16 May 2009

shoe love

What is it with shoes?

The Engineer once asked me why women like to buy shoes so much, or maybe it was why women liked to buy so many shoes.

Anyway my theory was that no matter what size or shape a woman is - and as we know, sadly, few women are content with theirs - all of us can go into a shop and buy a pair of shoes without fear of humiliation.

If, like me, you have had that hideous moment when you can neither get into nor out of a garment you don’t even want, while the size zero shop assistant waits just beyond the curtain, you will know what I am talking about.

But all feet are welcome in our culture, even big ones, thanks to the fashion industry's love of Amazonian beauties and the massive plates of meat they need to keep them upright on the runway.

So women and shoes is easy to figure out. But what got me this week was seeing the pride and excitement of our young Snooks on being bought his first pair of Real Big Boy Shoes.

He already owned a pair of what are called ‘prewalkers’ for which the rough translation is “He doesn’t really need them because he can’t walk yet but once the shop assistant had put them on his feet, they looked so cute, I could not resist.”

Luckily it was Christmas time so Santa was drafted in to foot that particular bill and the prewalkers have been a much loved and much envied addition to Snooks’ wardrobe.

But having now joined the ranks of the upright, Snooks was genuinely entitled to and genuinely in need of a pair of shoes for actually doing walking in.

It turns out that one of the many unexpected joys of having a baby is the vicarious shopping buzz it affords. When I first noticed the shift in our credit card bills from Mango to Mothercare, I was quite teary-eyed at the extent of my great selflessness and devotion to my child.

I have since realised however that in fact shopping for Snooks is at least as good a hit if not better than doing it for myself, as one enjoys the same anticipation and satisfaction of finding the perfect prize, but without any of the guilt.

So off we took ourselves to the most expensive children’s shoe shop we knew, the one that sells only children’s shoes and has teams of assistants waiting to tend to rows of tiny proffered middle class feet.

And this is where the remarkable phenomenon began to become apparent. Snooks, who would usually rather gnaw his way through his pushchair harness than sit still in any kind of shop, was perfectly composed and attentive as the assistant arrived with four little boxes containing tiny pairs of sandals of different designs for him to consider.

Not a sound as each one was tried and rejected on the grounds that Snooks’ dinky feet were swamped by even the smallest size available, rendering him resolutely immobile when invited to ‘have a little walk in them.’

Fortunately and predictably, there was just one other pair that came in a smaller size and was half the cost again of the other, average-footed variety. Of course they fit perfectly.

As soon as they were on his feet Snooks stalked over to the mirror to admire them, just as any twenty-something in her first pair of Jimmy Choos would do, and the deal was sealed.

Only a small debate followed over which colour would best suit Snooks’ look (we went for casual-sporty kind of mid-brown with red detailing), before we left with Snooks wearing the new acquisitions, as tradition on the distaff side of his ancestry dictates.

I was sort of joking when, as we arrived home, I suggested he go out into the garden to try them out. But as I watched through the kitchen window, I could see he was marching around with a new spring in his step, listening to the clackety noise they made on the path and enjoying the grippiness on the grass.

On the Engineer’s return from work, we celebrated the occasion with a loud burst of Paolo Nuttini’s tribute to the wearing of new shoes, to which the three of us danced around the lounge, at least twice.

It is the best way to break them in.

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