7/10/08

The War Begins

And the war was on....

Nineteen years ago, this November, I married my husband. We hadn't dated a lot - you know - it was love at first site. This marriage, as I have described before, has been a never ending process of growth, love and mutual respect.

I am a frugal person. My father made a really good living in the Space Industry when many people were struggling. However, he made sure we had a stay at home mom and, with five children, that wasn't always economically easy. One of the ways they managed was to teach us to enjoy simple things, nothing in excess and to count our blessings.

One of our family jokes evolves around the neon green Nikes with Neon Yellow stripes my Mother found one time on sale. They were so cheap we each got one pair and I think those of us who could be fitted got two pair. We wore those shoes until they wore out which was a VERY long time and we were dared to complain. I think my older brother's girlfriend attempted several times to dye his but it didn't make a lot of difference. In our house, we got one pair of tennis shoes - usually hi-tops that could only be worn on the basketball court, one pair of other athletic shoes if necessary, one pair of winter shoes and one pair of summer sandals. If it was summer, we spent a lot of time barefoot. If hand-me-downs fit, some of us did not get annual replacements that were new. That was life and life was good. We never really saw fit to complain except for the one green Nike incident. Even then, those shoes sure did feel good on one's feet!

As I grew to maturity, I adopted the shoe ritual and even reverted to wearing one pair year round if they were attractive and comfortable. I just didn't see the need for multiple pairs of shoes. I would buy a pair or two if they were on sale of comfortable "heels" for work and wear them year round. I always made sure to get some color like brown or black that would go with anything. I would wear these shoes until the heels wore down to the little metal tap and then a little longer until they became dangerously slick. Then, I would test it until the very last desperate minute when I actually slipped and fell and could no longer stay upright on those slick metal taps.

Dave and I had been married exactly three days when I finally realized that I had to replace the current pair of shoes. They had become so slick that even walking into the office was hazardous. One mistep on that thin tap against a tile floor and I found myself sliding into doors, walls and water fountains. These shoes were very comfortable but they were too worn to replace the taps; they had to go. So, I explained to Dave while on the phone at work one day that a trip to the mall was in order and shoes were priority.

When a woman shops and a man shops, they have two different objectives. I didn't know this because my Dad had left us years before. I always shopped for what I wanted and left - I don't like shopping - it's a simple necessity. Dave saw the opportunity however, to outfit his new wife in clothing she had not worn before and to show her a little about fashion.

We walked into the mall hand in hand - him making sure if I teetered on my disastrous shoes he could keep me upright. We headed for the first store - I believe Penneys and I headed directly to the shoe isle while he immediately got distracted in the lingerie department. He kept shaking his head and I thought he may have some sort of epilepsy when he finally said "do you not see that item over there - go try it on". The head shaking I have since learned is his way of pointing out what to look at. It was, of course, something a gal doesn't wear in public. I found it an interesting venture, having never noticed things like that and obliged him only in looking it over. Then, my attention turned back to the shoes as I slipped once again.

Men don't like being ignored and a woman on a mission doesn't like distraction. Negotiations began. If I would look at certain items and "oh, look at those nice blouses, they would look great on you at work, with that suit", he would then make sure I got a nice pair of shoes. The carrot in the front of the cart was shoes. I was game, he has good taste in clothes and it was entertaining to realize he was interested in how I dressed. I was game that is, until we entered into the fourth store, still not agreeing with what I wanted to buy because of care and washing compared to what he wanted me to purchase. And still...no new shoes. I was now walking around the mall in potentially life threatening attire and fuming at my new husband.

Dave and I had ONLY been married three days. I knew he had my best intentions at heart but he did not know I had a temper only matched by - I'm a red headed southern girl - I am not sure it CAN be matched - only contained. Not to mention the fact that he was intent on teaching me to shop in the "finer stores" as opposed to the discount stores I continually tried to steer us towards. I even saw the shoes I wanted through the window but was only promised to be allowed to return should he not find something better.

This little game went on about an hour or so. Then, we went to a store that had a ramp entrance. This ramp was probably designed for moving in and out of racks and freight, etc. or maybe for handicapped people, but it was covered in the same wonderfully brilliant and shiney tile as the rest of the mall. This entrance was on the second floor of the mall with a beautiful balcony view of the first floor just a few feet away. People were coming and going. We were leaving once again with no merchandise and in a slight argument at this point over WHY we were even shopping. He was stubbornly explaining to me the value of high dollar clothing and I was beginning to simply tune him out. That's when I hit the ramp.

I don't exactly remember all the details after that. When a red head loses her temper things become a blur, people get hurt, words get said and the world stops spinning! Maybe it's not the red head - maybe it's just me. I hit that ramp and not one but BOTH feet began sliding downwards faster than I could keep up. As my feet began heading out from under me, my lover caught me and proudly said "I gotcha, you don't need to worry!' Yes America - he thought he was a hero! This man who had refused to let me replace these weapons of terror when he had the opportunity ACTUALLY thought he had done me a favor catching me before I splattered all over the place. Woe be to him!

As I am told, and like I said I do not remember the incident clearly, the scene that followed as my temper literally exploded - a temper this innocent human being never knew existed - things became very animated. I do recall taking off one shoe and with all my might throwing it across the mall. I am small and that was a great distance so it only made it halfway across the opening over the first floor and dropped down. I remember his expression. It was one of those "oh no" and "how can I stop this" looks. That wasn't enough. The second evil shoe was still in my presence. I very easily kicked that thing off my foot and it followed the first shoe - making almost the exact same orbit. Then I turned around to him - by now shaking from anger and frustration - with my hands balled in fists by my sides and said through clenched teeth "IF YOU WANT TO BUY ME SOMETHING T O N I G H T, BUY ME SOME D*@&e SHOES!"

That was it! The storm had passed. It was over and he stood there looking very much like Elmer Fudd does when the rabbit once again wins. His brain was playing reel after reel after reel of rewind tape. People were pretending they didn't see me. Old women were grinning while their husbands grabbed them to rush them away. Young girls were passing that look they give when they want a man to know that if he had given them a chance, he would not have had to deal with that. His lower lip seemed permanently glued to his chest and I suddenly realized I could not exactly remember the last few seconds.

It was at this point in the drama that I realized that I TOO did not know the potential of the person I married. Would he match me word for word - toss for toss? This was HIS fault however and I was prepared, carefully examining mentally my arsenal of words and accusations that may be needed. My buttons had been pushed to the ON position and I would not readily turn them off!

He calmly collected himself - perhaps from shock maybe hunger or maybe his sudden desperate craving for a beer - and calmly walked me to a nearby bench. I sat there as he went around the balcony, down the stairs, found the first shoe, found the second shoe, came back up the stairs and back to me. I was not sure exactly why he bothered to retrieve the shoes because he didn't ask me to put them back on but walked me barefooted to the car, stopped at McDonald's and then quietly drove me home.

All that evening and into the next morning, he did not mention this event. I wondered if it truly was just a fantasy and if I had actually said "it's o.k., your a hero" instead of what I THOUGHT I remembered. We rode together to work the next day like we always do, me wearing an alternate pair of shoes that I normally wore for the house and I didn't bother to mention that, once again, I was in miserable shoes. We just rode.

When he picked me up at lunch ...in the floor...were two pair of the most beautiful shoes I have ever seen. He had matched the size by the older pair. He had even returned to the mall to get the ones I saw through the discount window. As I looked at the shoes and then looked at him he simply said "let's not talk about this!" but I later learned he had discussed it with his female supervisor who offered to give him the morning off to "do the right thing". I understand she laughed for several hours.

It was SEVERAL years before we saw the humor in this event. It was just the beginning of a long series of events where he tested me to see how far before the dam broke and I learned to let the dam break a little sooner and with a little less overflow each time. We worked it out and have learned to laugh at the story. We now both try to remember more fully the expressions on the other faces and I wonder if one day when I am old I may see some young lady tossing shoes over the balcony while he rushes me away. I am quite sure he won't want me telling her she did the right thing!

1 comment:

Justin said...

Interesting post.. You really have some wonderful experiences about shoes.