The Heart of My Sole


Sven bought a pair of new tennis shoes the other day because his eight year old right one was flapping.
"How do you like my new shoes?" he asked from the couch.
I set the grocery bags on the counter and walked over to examine.
Other than the fact that they were shiny gray with burgundy stripes and gave off a plastic-like aura that was close to hideous, they were fine.
"They're fine," I said.
"I don't like them that much," he says.
"Why did you buy them?"
"Because I liked these better than the rest."
This is the way a Norwegian man thinks. If he sets out to buy a pair of shoes, he must buy a pair of shoes. And they must come from the predetermined store he was aimed at.
"They're a little tight," he says.
"Sven, why would you buy them if they're too tight?"
"They'll stretch. Won't they?"

"You have no idea how to shop for shoes," I said.
I should know.
If there is one thing I, me, Millie Noe, am good at, it is shoe shopping.
First of all.
You never buy a pair of shoes unless they are to die for. If they aren't calling to you from the shelf, don't even pick them up.
If they are a little snug, leave them at the store.
Unless they are to die for.
If you find yourself looking for new bath towels but keep landing in front of a certain pair of leather tops from the department across the aisle, those shoes are yours.
It is really very simple.
The key is to shop inside your means.
Or in a store where you have credit.
You can always rob Peter to pay Paul next month.
"I am going to show you how it's done," I told Sven.
It was time for me to teach that old dog a new trick.
Besides, I wanted a pair of hiking boots for our trip out west.
It is difficult for a Norwegian man to let go of his money unless it is for something that is absolutely necessary.
And that darn Sven had glued his flapping sole shut on his eight year old shoe with contact cement.
"I don't need any new shoes now," he says.
"Get in the car," I said.
"You are going to pick out a pair that you like. Not a pair that will do. And I will buy them for you."
"I thought you were broke," he says.
"I'm always broke, Sven. But I always have cool shoes. That's how it works."
As I meandered my way through all the shoes, I had my head tilted to the side, listening for a display to sing my name.
I am clinically tone deaf.
But not when it comes to the heart of my sole.
Sven wandered his way around over in the men's section.
"Don't look at the price. Look at the shoe," was the last tip I'd given him as he was aimed at a sea of racks.
The top of his hat was visible to me every now and then.
Fifteen minutes later my selection of hikers and I went to search him out.
There he stood.
In a quandary.
A leather shoe on his left and a tennis shoe on his right.
"I can't decide," he said.
"Well, you have to get the leather pair," I said. "I really like that shoe."
He hesitated.
He shuffled from foot to foot.
"I just don't know," he says. "I like them both."
"Then get both pairs."
This statement was too wild for my Sven. I thought he might faint.
"Look," I said. "You're going to get money back from that Forest Gump pair you bought. So, it's fine."
I left him there and went to find sheets for our guest bedroom and returned to the shoe department.
Sven was still wandering around in there.
He was still wearing the leather shoe on his left foot and the hiker tennis shoe on his right.
"Sven!" I said. "Put those shoes back in their boxes and into this cart."
"Just do it."
This is actually where NIKE got their slogan.
It was a woman yelling at her husband in the shoe section and a sales rep just happened to be there.
That guy hasn't had to work another day in his life.
The cashier at the sporting good store handed Sven fifty-two dollars and forty-eight cents for the shiny gray plastic pair.
"Here," Sven said, handing me the cash.
"No," I said. "That's your money."
"But Millie, I feel so...."
"You'll be fine," I said. "I do it all the time."
"But, I have too many shoes."

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