It looks like it's already starting in this photograph.
See how Louisa peers into the camera, but I don't stop tying my shoe.
And what is up with her cheeks?
Every year our family would pile into the station wagon and take a trip to Red Goose Shoes. It was a BIG deal.
First of all there was a talking parakeet in the store.
Second of all, you got to pull on a rope which would then drop a golden egg into your hand and that golden egg had a prize inside.
And thirdly, when you walked out that door, it was with a string tied around your wrist and a helium filled balloon on the other end of it.
So, it's no wonder I ended up with an addiction to shoes.
Never mind that we always had to get the same old durable, dependable, black and white, saddle bagged things.
I didn't care.
We sisters traipsed around at home in our Mom's high heels
just to hear them click.
In kindergarten I proudly marched in the Halloween parade, wearing a pair of cowboy boots, and yes, I wore more than just the boots.
In third grade that new girl with the long black hair showed up to class in a pair of TO-DIE-FOR, white, fringed, go-go boots.
My mom kept a stash of Gardner's Soft-twist bread bags under the kitchen sink to insert into our snow boots, to help keep our shoes dry.
Kids started coming to school in slip on boots that went right over their socks, no bags or shoes required. They toted their shoes in their backpacks and then they would put them on when the bell rang. UN-fucking-BELIEVABLE.
We Noes couldn't have those white go-go boots or those shoe-less snow boots when they were all the rage. We stuck with our ugly saddle shoes and our bread bags.
Louisa scraped up a pristine pair of black and whites as soon as she got home one day, but her hopes were dashed when our dad told her that if he had to take her back there, he would just buy her another pair of the same.
It seemed hopeless.
But then the day arrived.
I reached middle school.
And I just so happened to have arrived in middle school at the beginning of those glorious years of wooden clogs and desert boots.
And I have GREAT NEWS.
I was a full fledged, babysitting, corn tassel pulling, consumer, by then.
I don't know what my sisters did with their money, but all my cash went, STRAIGHT TO MY FEET, and I haven't seen the floor of a closet since.
In high school I went to work in a soda fountain, There I had to wear those icky, white waitress shoes, but the job supplied me with the means to buy more shoes.
Those days were a also the days when walking out of a bowling alley in a pair of rentals meant that you were super cool.
I was super cool.
However, I left those stolen puppies in my locker for four years.
No reason for my parents to know how cool I was, especially since my Dad used to say, "Millie, life is not a popularity contest."
When I graduated I tossed out that pair of size 5 1/2 's along with my childhood and I moved on to college.
Wooden clogs must have still been popular that year or else maybe I just couldn't part with them. I walked out of a philosophy class located at the top of Bascom Hill with a new friend.
It had just snowed. So, I tried to slide a little bit. Wow, those clogs could really go on that slant. I tried it again and I've got to say, it was pretty fun. Then I tried one more great big slide. This time I started to pick up speed and I was soon out of control going down that historical hill. The sidewalk of people parted in front of me as I flew right through them with my arms flailing and screaming , "Oh-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h SHI-I-I-I-I-I-I-T!" And then that new friend of mine grabbed me from behind. I came to an abrupt halt and then fell sideways onto the snow covered grass. I guess he saved my life.
I learned to keep an old pair of duct taped waitress shoes in the back of my closet. It seemed that every time I threw a pair away, because I QUIT the soda fountain, I would end up back there begging Margaret for a job and every time she rehired me, I had to buy another pair of those God awful things.
I had accumulated quite a stock pile of shoes by my mid twenties, but of course nature has it's own way of thinning out your closets.
There was a period, before I met Sven and before I had kids, when Jason and I lived with Burt and our two Irish Setters, Belle and Nelle. Nelle, ate our shoes like they were potato chips. And everybody knows that nobody can eat just one. It wasn't Nelle's fault. She was compulsive when it came to her teeth. And it wasn't just shoes that she ate. She pretty much chewed up what ever was in her path, including a bean bag chair. In case you have ever wondered about the beans in those chairs, they aren't really beans. They are little white Styrofoam balls and there are gazillions of them in every chair and each little ball is filled with static electricity, so that when your dog runs back and forth and back and forth through your house, whipping it from side to side, after having torn a big hole in it, while you are all at work, those fake, little, bean, balls, will cling to your walls, make snow drifts against your stereo speakers and hang from your rafters or in our case, the parachute that we had stapled to the living room ceiling, because we could.
You can clean those little bastards up until your lease is up, but you will still never see the end of them. And when you do try to get rid of them, they will stick to your hand and to your shirt and to your pants and they will not go into the wastebasket, willingly.
The only place there wasn't a Styrofoam nugget after the great bean bag incident, was inside that chair.
But I managed to come out of the Nelle, shoe chip, parachute era, with a few shoes and life continued on.
I had lots of new shoes piling up behind me, including platforms and wedges and high heels and moccasins and boots, boots and more boots.
And then in 1987 came the house fire, just six months after Sven and I were married.
That January afternoon, as we stood in the snow, along with the entire neighborhood, watching the firemen do their thing and our house melt to the ground, I happened to be wearing a pair of steel toed boots. At that moment they were the only shoes that I owned. And those steel toed boots didn't go with very many outfits, but hey, they went with the only outfit that I owned and happened to be wearing at the time.
In that blaze of orange I lost my, you-will-never-have-to-work-at-the-soda-fountain-again-shoes.
Yes, tragically all of our shoes went up in smoke, mine, Sven's and the kids. We lost everything, except what really mattered.
A few days later, after the smoke cleared, we were allowed to go into the remains. This is when I discovered that I'd married a left, work boot, hoarding, man.
I found a pile of them in the charred attic.
"What is this all about?" I said, holding up two lefts.
"Those are my boots," he says.
"I can see that. But why are they all lefts?"
"My right boot always wears out first," he answers.
"Those are perfectly good boots, Millie. And maybe someday I'll wear out the left one first. Then I can use one of those to make up a pair."
I was shocked and horrified to learn that I'd just committed me and my children's lives to be with a man who had absolutely no shoe scruples.
If Sven could have things his way, a person could just buy one shoe at a time.
Hidden in that attic was the master of all master plans, of a former, frugal, Norwegian, bachelor.
Just think, all Sven had to do to make his plan work was change his walk so that he could wear out his left shoe first. Maybe he could throw in a little bit of the John Wayne swagger and then drag that left foot along behind him. Once he had his new walk down, he would be able to cut all of that frivolous, nonsensical, work boot buying, in half.
For every pair he would buy he could grab an old left out of the attic pile and he could drop his new left one into it.
Don't think about this for long. It hurts as much as those story problems always did.
If a train A leaves the station at 3:00 P.M. Eastern Standard Time and train B leaves another station at 2:52 Central Standard Time and one is going north and one is going west and one of them is traveling at the speed of light and one of them is traveling at the speed of sound, which train will reach the station in New Orleans first?
Who the fuck cares?
As time piles up behind me, so do shoes.
But a curious thing is starting to happen to me, Millieda Marcos.
I'm beginning to have a warm and fuzzy feeling towards sippers.
I wonder if that happened to Imelda too?