I had just returned from my vacation and was unloading my truck the other day, It wasn’t until then, when I began carting things into the house, that I realized I had brought five pair of shoes. I didn’t even know I owned five pair of shoes.
I had my new sneakers, I was wearing them. There were my old, comfortable sneakers, which are pretty much falling apart and have holes, but I love them. There were my hiking boots, my sandals and a pair of water shoes.
I never wore the water shoes the entire time I was away.
I lined all my shoes up on the deck. They were all pretty tattered and worn, but for the most part comfortable. How did I ever get so many pairs of shoes? I suppose each pair has it’s speciality. I wouldn’t wear my sandals when hiking up a mountain, or my boots when canoeing. Sneakers are pretty universal, but those water shoes really have a limited use.
Why do we need all these speciality shoes? Cowboys wore cowboy boots, I’d bet that neither Jesse James, nor Wyatt Earp had sandals or sneakers in their closet. They lived in their boots.
Loggers wear heavy work boots. Back in the 20th century, they’d set them beside the bunk at night and put them on again in the morning. Even on a day off, they were in their boots. They only needed one pair of shoes.
Fishermen wear rubber boots. They’re in wet conditions all the time. When they’d get off the boat, they’d go home, leaving the rubber boots by the door, the next morning they put them back on and head for the water.
It use to be that everyone had one sturdy, serviceable, pair of shoes and pretty much lived in them.
I remember when ESPN first came on the scene and announced that they would be televising sports and only sports 24 hours a day. Who then believed that possible. But, they did and today ESPN is an empire.
Back in the day to buy shoes you went to the general merchandise or hardware store, or maybe to Woolworth’s or the Ben Franklin 5&10. These places sold everything. Then along came outfits like Tom McCann. No, people said. A store that sells just shoes. I refer you back to ESPN.
It is an age of specialization. Now we have shoes for almost every purpose, even shoes that serve no purpose.
For some shoes have become a fetish item. Look at Imelda Marcos, the wife of once Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos. When Marcos was deposed, his wife’s shoe fetish was exposed. The world cried foul. The Philippine nation was corrupt and going hungry, while the president’s wife had thousands of pairs of shoes. Her over-stuffed shoe closet made headlines around the world.
But the uproar quickly died as women across the globe came, not necessarily to the defense of Mrs. Marcos, but to the defense of the shoe – lots of shoes..
I’m a little embarrassed that I have five pairs of shoes, it seems a bit excessive. But, to those who swoon over footwear, five is nothing.
According to Consumer Reports the average American woman has 17 pairs of shoes.
I’d bet that’s low.
It doesn’t seem to matter if they are impractical, they can be irresistible. In fact Consumer Reports goes on to claim that a third of the American women that they polled, have given into the temptation, at least once, to spend more than $100 for a pair of shoes. They have even admitted to willingly suffering uncomfortable or painful shoes for the sake of fashion.
What’s that old saying? “If the shoe hurts, toss it!”
How many women have seen a pair of shoes, just had to have them, tried them on, and never wore them again? I’m told just trying on and buying a pair of shoes can be very exciting. Apparently, shopping for and buying shoes can be therapeutic as well. Shopping for shoes can effect mood. It can ease depression or simply cheer you up. Dropping a $100 on a pair up pumps, I’m told, can make your day.
I don’t know any men that collect shoes, but there are probably some out there.
My water shoes cost $10 and I’ve probably worn them a total of three weeks. At that price, it could be argued that they were worth the purchase, as I’ve walked a lot of rocky river bottoms in those shoes. My old sneakers cost $75, but I wore them almost exclusively year round for two years. I think they paid for themselves. My hiking boots cost $65. I bought them about six years ago and have used them countless times. They were a good deal. My sandals cost $25 and I wear them around the house all morning. I’ve had the sandals for about three years. Then their are my new sneakers. I paid $85 for them about a month ago and expect them to last a couple of years. Silly me, I guess I’ve never considered fashion when buying shoes. I buy what fits.
So why do we need all these shoes? I don’t think we do, however, some of us simply must have more shoes, we crave shoes and, will go hungry in order to buy that 17th pair. Like a lot of things in our consumer culture, Madison Avenue has us believing that we must have lots of shoes, and in order to feed that hunger, manufacturers have made shoes for almost every purpose.
Whet the heck is a casual shoe? I think all my shoes are casual. How about a work shoe? I can work in almost any pair of shoes, however, I admit that there are some lines of work that necessitate certain footwear. Most of us don’t do those things, yet we have shoes we consider work shoes, but they’re probably just casual.
When I was growing up playing sports we had cleats. Now there are football, baseball, golf, soccer and more kinds of cleats. Is this science or Madison Ave.? They rarely call them cleats anymore, they’re shoes. Mom’s going to buy you shoes, but maybe not cleats..
Do we need these different cleats/shoes, or do we just think we do because that’s what we’re told? Either way we must have them.
I was never very good at much in my cleats, but back then everyone had just the one pair of cleats and used them regardless of the sport. Maybe that was my problem.
For the shoe-addicted, the shoe speciality shop, spawned by the likes of Tom McCann, have become the opium dens of the 60’s. A place to hang with kindred spirits and get high off the scent of new shoes. They’ve become a place to groove to the latest pair of boots, fantasize over flats, salivate over sandals or rock-out with a pair pumps. A place to throw your cares to the wind, dream and let the mood take you. Forget time, forget place, let your mind go. Racks, stacks and tables of shoes await.
We all need to take a lesson from the horse. A horse only has one set of shoes. When those wear out, someone just nails on a new pair.
I’m going to go throw away those old sneakers and I don’t think I’ll be replacing them with something new in my closet, no matter how good it feels.
The views and opinions in the Enterprise blogs are those of the author and are not neccessarily shared by Falmouth Publishing.