Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Famous Prada Shoe Story

Since so many people have asked me to do this, and because I am excessively busy this week, I'm going to repost one of my older stories that everyone really liked. I figured since I have so many new readers who haven't heard it that it was about time anyway.

We all have different things that would make us feel rich. My theory is that this definition is formed similarly to a fetish when we are little. Childhood experiences of money and success, or lack thereof, create nearly indelible mental images of what it means to be rich, which we carry into adulthood. We all daydream. I spend hours decorating my beach house and muse endlessly about summers away. This came from my own childhood. When I was little, back in Millpond, I had a rich friend whose family owned a fertilizer business. They had a magnificent seaside, clapboard home, complete with a back porch overlooking the bay. Every year they would take me with them for a few weeks and these memories are so beautiful and idealized that now I feel that at some point I absolutely must recreate the summer beach house for myself. If I could have a beach house and go away for the summer, I would feel like I was as rich as freakin’ Warren Buffet and that I had achieved a huge degree of personal success.

The definition of wealth and success is highly subjective. My mother spent her childhood watching old movies and developed her own concept of wealth which includes champagne, fur, cigarettes and gigantic diamonds. My father, having lived in Florida for a long time, has spent years watching yachts cruise down the Intracoastal, and therefore, will feel wealthy when he has one that is comparable. But it’s different for everyone. For some people, simply having a full time job with health insurance and making rent every month would make them feel a sense of fabulous abundance.

A few years ago I had something happen to me which made me feel like the richest girl in the world and as a result of this experience, I must first make a confession to you.

I wear Prada.

Yes, it’s true. I have a pair of Prada shoes. They are now seven years old and I still wear them all the time. You might be saying to yourself "How the hell does she have a pair of haute couture shoes? Is she a hypocrite?"

Honestly, kind of.

Let's rewind to the summer of 2000.I was homeless, jobless, pointless, heartbroken and lost. I had no plan. An atomic bomb had gone off and destroyed every single thing that defined me as a human being, leaving me with no identity, standing in the incinerated ashes of my future plans trying to pull out a few charred bits to rebuild and finding them all unusable. You guys know the story by now, so I won’t rehash it for the nine thousandth time.

I spent my days crying and baking chocolate chip cookies at my parents house. At one point I considered throwing myself into the sea. I went to two pyschics who each told me I would never marry and never have children, so then I felt even worse. I baked more cookies and ate them with ice cream. Soon I was a size 6, and then a snug 8. Not only was I seriously depressed, I was also bored.

I needed a romance. I wasn’t having any luck so I took to the Internet. Guess who I Googled? Remember the rich boy who made me pay for his McDonalds? I found his email and wrote to him. He had a girlfriend, but we began a torrid email-ationship. I decided that Rich Boy was my dream man and that he had changed and turned into a wonderful person who was kind and sensitive and had great taste in music. He looked kinda like my ex and they had the same birthday. I convinced myself that Rich Boy, who lived in San Francisco now, was my soul mate and that we were getting married. The fact that he had a girlfriend did not stop me. He complained about her all the time anyway. He couldn’t possibly love her as much as he loved me anyway. I ignored Rich Boy's past history with me. I figured he was a dumb high school boy back then. Now he was a mature man with degrees and experience. He was a published writer for God’s sakes!!

In August of 2000 my dad had to go to San Francisco on business. See, it was fate. It was fate that me and Rich Boy were meant to be together. I was going to San Francisco too and when Rich Boy saw me he would realize I was his true love and then we would be together forever listening to really good music and wearing Brooks Brothers outfits while sipping gin cocktails at the country club. That would show my ex, wouldn’t it? I didn’t need him and his stupid, illegitimate baby. I was going to be with a real man. A classy man. Rich Boy was less enthused than I imagined he would be at the news that I was visiting San Francisco. Instead of inviting me to stay at his place, or making plans to whisk me away to wine country, he agreed to have dinner with me one night. I would be there a full week.

"One night is all I can manage." he said. "So sorry."

I figured I would make the one night count and that he would change his mind once he spent an enchanting evening with charming me.I needed to pack wisely for this trip because I had to make a good impression. My mother assisted, but sadly the one suitcase of clothes I was allowed to bring from my home in Atlanta wasn't sufficient at all. I also only had 2 pairs of shoes.One pair was flip flops. The other were a pair of 7 year old Clarks Mary Janes that were thick with scuffs. The soles were heavy, the toes were rounded. They looked like something a Puritan farm wife would have worn. They were broken in, out of style and ugly, but they were comfortable. They fit. They were familiar. The dirt and dust, the mud from my abandoned home was still encrusted in their weathered cracks. I could not part with these shoes.

"They are hideous. You can't wear them on a date with a boy." my mother and sister warned.I went to Nine West and bought a pair of pointed, black, strappy stiletto sandals on my nearly maxed out credit card. They were like encasing your feet in newly sharpened chef's knives. I tried to break them in before the trip to no avail. They were hard and unyielding. The stilettos did not want to be broken in. They remained stubborn and resistant. Still I packed them, and the Clarks Mary Janes too. I would wear those sight seeing or something.

When I got to San Francisco my first of many surprises to come was that it was freezing cold in the middle of summer. My sexy, slinky sundress was not going to work on a foggy, 50 degree evening. When I saw the steep hills I became a bit apprehensive about the stilettos as well. I ended up having to buy a big, grey wool sweater to keep myself warm. I also bought some tights because my legs were turning blue in the wet, clammy wind. The strappy sandals looked terrible with black, opaque tights. San Francisco was obviously not a city conducive to cute shoes.

As I prepared for my date with my soul mate, I pulled on the tights and buttoned the sweater with no thought other than the prevention of hypothermia.

My mother called me in my hotel room."Make sure to put on your lipstick and perfume before you leave." she told me, "And you had better not wear those ugly shoes."

Readers, I wore those ugly shoes. I thought the Boy would love me for me and not even see the shoes. I had to take a cab to his house and then he said we would walk to dinner. I couldn’t risk frost bitten, bloody toes in the stilettos. I reasoned that I would be better company if I were warm and comfortable.

When I finally saw my Dream Man I almost had a seizure from nerves. I wanted to impress him. He was so well dressed. He smelled good. He wasn’t all that cute in person anymore, but he still looked ok. It wasn’t about looks. He was my soul mate. I knew he didn’t care if I wore a grey cardigan, black tights and scuffed Clarks, because I was his soul mate too.

The Boy took me on a walk up a completely vertical hill. By the top I was ready to call 911. We went in to a crowded restaurant and had to leave because he knew someone. We ended up going to a dive Thai place in an alley. We were the only people there. They probably had squirrels and possums in cages in the back ready to be made into Panang Curry and Pad Squirrel. I couldn’t talk and I couldn’t eat. His Singha overflowed onto the table and my pad see ew was terrible, but I was paralyzed from anxiety and had long since lost my appetite. I tried to be graceful and dignified, but I had turned into the same 15 year old with blackberry stained fingers who couldn’t even nibble a fry at McDonalds as he feasted on apple pies.

Again, I paid the bill. This time it was $15.00. He didn’t even offer to leave the tip. He talked about his girlfriend and her discriminating tastes. She was an heiress; a socialite who was photographed often at charity events in various cities.

"She wears Prada shoes."

It was awkward later. I hoped I looked better under the wool cable knit, the black tights and barefoot. He went to the bathroom and called me a cab.

"The taxi will be here soon, so hurry up and get dressed."

He tossed me my shoes. I could slide them on without even unbuckling them. They didn’t hurt my feet.

He didn’t call me anymore that week, but emailed me when I got home."I hope you had a fantastic visit. It was lovely seeing you again." he wrote. He signed it "warmly, The Rich Boy."

I wish I had known then that the entire time I was in San Francisco I was only a few steps away from the man who was my real soul mate and who would, a few years later become my husband, but I didn’t and that isn’t the point of this story.

"You wore those shoes didn’t you??" my mother and sister demanded.

My father ratted me out since he had been there.My family staged an impromptu shoe intervention. Ceremoniously they paraded the shoes through the house and out the front door. They made a conga line, holding the cracked and faded Clarks high in the air. I chased them, in tears, begging for the shoes.

"Stop holding on to the past. These shoes are the past. You have to create a new life now, with new shoes and new loves." my mother explained.

My mother threw the first shoe into the Intracoastal canal. She flung it far into the middle of the water where it would sink and where I couldn’t fish it out. My sister hurled the second one. I watched it bob a little, fill with water and drown. I sat on the dock and cried.

"It’s ok. Change is hard, but sometimes the past and things connected with it get ugly and you have to chuck everything and start all over. Think of all the new shoes you can wear from here on out. Think of all the places you will walk in the new shoes and the fun you will have picking them out." my father told me.

"One day," I sniffled, "I will have a pair of Prada shoes."

Three months later it was my birthday. I was in bed and my parents banged loudly on my door, since I was still living with them. They burst joyfully in the room with a big Neiman Marcus bag.

"We bought you something! Its big so you just get one present." they said.

Inside the bag was a shoebox.

"You didn’t!!!" I practically shouted and they smiled.

It was a pair of brand new, straight from Italy Prada Mary Janes, and then I knew how it felt to be really, really rich.


JoeyJoJo said...

so many miles of dross and garbage in blogland and then a true jewel of a writer like you with no comments. I don't believe it. We have been reading your blog for over a year and enjoy it immensely you are so funny please don't stop.

Mim said...

Oh my goodness. That is wonderful. It made me tear up at the end.

Incidentally, later you need to post the McDonald's story.

Subservient No More said...

Yes Mim, I will repost it.

And Joeyjojo, thank you so very much. I won't stop.

Jax said...

Please - post more stories! I just found your blog yesterday and have read everything I could! You are a very talented and funny writer! Thanks for making my day!!!

NicoleinAZ said...

I LOVE that story as much this time as the first time. I can actually visualize the Conga line!

SNM you brighten my day which is otherwise doomed as its 110 here today and I'm dying. :-)

stljoie said...

Wonderful story...I was sooo excited to be going to San Francisco..to California. I'd never seen the ocean. I had no idea how cold it is there or that the ocean is artic water and frigid. Later I played in the warm water at La Jolla. Now that was paradise.
As far as Rich Boy goes, what an asshole.

Anonymous said...

That is such a great story, one of your best ever. It made me tear up, too.
I'd like to hear the McDonald's story.
You are a great writer and I'm sure you'll have that wonderful beach house someday soon.

Bri said...

I'm one of those that will feel rich when I can pay all my bills on time, but I'm getting there.

This one made me tear up at the end, the way your family pulled together to help you let go of the past and look forward to the future is inspiring.

Anonymous said...

This story makes me think of the Paolo Nutini song "New Shoes", it's on his myspace page if you haven't heard it:


Melisa said...

I always loved this story and took it very much to heart and I realized (actually after this story) that the "things" that I see as a status symbol of money/power are the things that I couldn't touch as a poor child growing up in Miami (near downtown). I realized as an adult that our family was one of the better of po' folks. I grew up knowing and having a relationship with my dad, having a great stepfather, working air-conditioning... all of which most of the people around me growing up did not have (what with having temporary 'uncles' and the like). You take all of these things for granted and about how lucky one really was...
Oh, and you REALLY need to post the Pee-pee martini story ... that was entirly too funny... my brother started reading your blog becuase I told him about you and he totally loves you now, and I was telling him about your pee-pee martini story (he does not belive me so, you have to re-post that one day, SOON)... PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLAESE PLEASE PLEASE PLESAE PLEASE ... Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I love your writing so much. Where can your new fans read the older posts we're hearing about? More, more, more please!

MP said...

Great story... what an ass that boy was...
I still want to know how mom and dad met!

LaLa said...

What a marvelous story. I love that your Prada shoes were a whole-family birthday gift just when you needed it.

elise said...

Really, really good story. I love it!

Sauntering Soul said...

I just came across your blog and wanted to tell you what an incredible way you have with words. I look forward to going back through your archives!

mckay said...

i'm new to your blog, so thanks for the old and wonderful story.


Chiada said...

This story was so great... it made me cry! And laugh at the same time! Wowee, you are such a great storyteller. That's it, I'm putting you on my blogroll this second.

I am a new reader, so no, I don't know what the crisis that you didn't want to rehash is. But maybe if I go to the archives...

Will you tell us the story of how you met your husband?

secretmom said...

are you working on a memoir? Hope so as I love what I've read so far!

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