Friday, April 08, 2011

A History of Wet and Ugly Shoes

I'm not wearing any right now, but I guess I have a long history of ugly shoes, specifically with ugly shoes and water, just like with the Prada shoe story (see below).

I love my grandmother dearly. I love her so much that Baby Lawns' middle name is after her, but jeez is the woman crotchety. I called my grandmother yesterday to tell her about my radio appearance and I barely got the words out of my mouth, actually I didn't get the words out of my mouth, before she was warning me that the story had better not be about me wearing ugly shoes while I was living with her. The one thing you have to constantly be aware of as a memoirist is your relatives' paranoia that you're going to write things that will make them look bad, and my grandmother is convinced that I'm going to tell the world that she was mean and dressed me funny. Then, before I could tell her what the story was even about and how it didn't even mention her, she told me a story that I didn't know.

According to Mommom, as a child, I ruined all my shoes by playing in a creek and no matter how much she punished me, I wouldn't stop, so it's true that I did have to wear ugly ratty shoes. The fault was mine alone though, my grandmother really needs you to know. Had it been up to her I would have worn my patent leather mary janes every day scuff free and my blue and red Hush Puppies would have shined brightly. Because I would not stay out of that blamed creek though, my poor grandmother was forced, forced against her will to buy me the cheapest, ugliest generic Keds type of sneakers and I wouldn't have a new pair for a week before they were stained grey and ruined.

I don't remember things that way, although I do remember the creek. It was behind my friend K's house. K was my best friend from kindergarten until the end of sixth grade when I moved. We tried to stay in touch but after the eighth grade we stopped talking and writing because she went to a fancy boarding school. K's family was stinking rich. She is the friend whose family took me to their beach house in the summer. They lived in a red house up the street from where I lived. My house was in a treeless, horseshoe shaped subdivision of identical tiny ranch houses with chain link fences. K's house was set back from the road on a woodsy lot, shaded and hushed by oaks and maples. The infamous creek trickled gently at the far end of their property and I lived for nothing more than playing in it.

The creek was only a couple of inches deep, dappled with smooth pebbles in every shade of pink, sand and grey. The water was clear as good ice and flashed with minnows. Of the many things for which I was jealous of K (a long satin ribbon on a stick, a tiara, the beach house, a mother who let her eat raw cookie dough just to start) that creek was a major source of envy for me. I think if I had it behind my house I probably would have played in it until leeches sucked every ounce of blood from my body and algae grew like green fur on my skin. You know how some kids are scared to death of water, while others you can't keep out of it? I was the latter. I loved water so much that I was known to even play in the toilet if no one would set me free outside.

My grandmother, for a reason that persists and is yet unknown to me, believes that my childhood best friend was out to get me. I disagree, but Mommom insists that K was a mean spirited, spoiled child, a Nellie Oleson type who had me blinded and who controlled me and who only played with me to get me in trouble. My experience of K was nothing of the sort. K was a quiet, timid little girl who was a cry baby and overly sensitive but was not at all mean. I don't know where my grandmother comes up with this crap, but she told me that K lured me to the creek and made me play in it because she knew I got in trouble for ruining my shoes and she thought it was funny to see me get yelled at. Not even close to the truth.

I didn't have to be lured to the creek. It was the other way around more likely, being that I was obsessed with playing in the water. K and I were both dreamy children who loved playing pretend. We were faeries and wood nymphs, sometimes we were explorers of magical lands. We would get so lost in our imaginations when we played and I think that's the real cause of the multiple pairs of ruined shoes. 

Now that I'm grown, it's funny to me that I've forgotten all about the punishments, the soggy shoes and the ugly sneakers and the memory that held on so strong was of how much fun I had playing in that creek. It is so clear that I can see it in my mind as if I had just stood ankle deep in that cold water yesterday, cupping my hand to tickle the tadpoles, the skunk cabbages blooming around me like enormous green roses. 

Don't forget to vote for me! Voting closes Sunday so get your vote in. Being jobless, I could use the hundred dollars to buy diapers. Actually, I'm lying. If I win, I'm going to buy MARBLE WINDOWSILLS!


ccm said...

I tried to vote for you but I can't get registered.... when I get to the part where you tell your birthdate, it won't let me pick my month, day and year...I can fill out the rest of the registration but not the birthdate.

I have tried three separate times and that is my limit. have my vote in spirit. I think this is the paper my brother works for.

Melanie said...

Given the choice of having a grandmother who mistakenly blamed the neighborhood child for your "crimes," or a grandmother who was all too eager to place the blame on YOU for ruining your shoes, I'd say that you lucked out and got the best alternative.

Or maybe it wasn't luck... maybe it was good karma!

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