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Beaded Mule with Chinese Motif Heel

Beaded Mule with Chinese Motif Heel

Vivienne Tam for Candie’s
Spring 1996
Ventura, California

Did you ever think you were getting too old for an Easter basket? Considering there is nothing I love to eat more than chocolate, I have never felt this way. But when my mother said she had hid my basket in the yard and that I had to go find it I was ready to have a fit. I was 25 years old and had very little patience. Funny – I didn’t see dad poking through the shrubs and gardenia bushes looking for his basket. Anything for chocolate though. Off I went.

After a few minutes of lifting up fern branches and poking about here and there amongst the azaleas I found it. My Easter basket was full of the one thing that could possibly be better than chocolate – a pair of fabulous shoes. Candie’s had just relaunched their brand and they had various designers designing shoes. My mom had picked out a wonderful pair by Vivienne Tam. I had always loved Vivienne Tam’s clothes, though I never had quite the figure to wear them. I did know that I could fit into the shoes. The heel was carved with a Chinese motif and lacquered with black paint. The shoe itself was beaded in black, red, yellow and green tiny beads in the design of a flower. I was ecstatic and shimmied over to my mom in my new heels to give her a kiss. I then went and sat next to my dad on the leather couch and asked if he would share his chocolates.

pink-mary-jane-sneakers-sugar-shoes

Pink Mary Jane Sneakers

Pink Mary Jane Sneakers

Sugar Shoes by 26 Red Tred
Summer 1999
Ventura, California

“That’s absolutely disgusting!” my mom blurted out when I held up the dashboard penis. When you think of a dashboard ornament you might think of the hula dancer attached a coil that shakes her grass skirt. At this store, Wild Planet, they have penises you can attached to your dashboard that jiggle around as you drive.

I headed to the back of the store, passing the concert t-shirts, pipes, incense, and old vinyl records to a very small rack of shoes. They had black Monkey Boots, Doc Martins, a few styles of Creepers and one pair of pink Mary Jane sneakers. They were a fabulous two-toned combination of Pepto-Bismol pink and magenta with a handy Velcro strap. Written across the heel was the word “sugar.” I knew then, they had to be mine. I slipped them on. Mom thought they were cute. Off to the register we went.

A few months later I was out running errands in downtown Palo Alto. I was walking down Hamilton Street with my sassy pink Mary Janes when two elderly women approached me. “Dear, where did you get your shoes, they are darling?” I explained how I found them in a “boutique” in Southern California. “Thelma, too bad we can’t get some cute shoes like that around here.” If they only knew…

Peach ‘Satine’ Pumps

Bakers
October 1999
Sunnyvale, CA

I pity all bridesmaids. Having been a bridesmaid on many occasions, I have since decided that when my turn comes to walk down the aisle, I will not have any. I will let all of my friends sit comfortably during the ceremony and use the occasion as an excuse to buy themselves an amazing new outfit that they want and that they know they will be able to wear again and again. If they decide to never wear it again, they certainly won’t have me to blame. Nobody will be forced to wear pastel. Nobody will be forced to show off her less than perfectly sculpted arms. On my wedding day, Dyeables will not be allowed to enter the church.

My dear friend was getting ready to marry a dashing boy. It was going to be a perfect wedding she had always dreamed of. I was thrilled that she chose me to be a bridesmaid and truly enjoyed helping her plan the wedding. When it came time for the bridesmaid dresses, she opted for strapless, kind of poofy gown. “The dress is great” I told her, “you are right, I’ll definitely be able to wear it again.”

About a month before the wedding the dress had arrived. It fit well enough that I figured I could get by without spending additional money on alterations. Then the dreaded phone call came. “You can just get those Dyeables to match the dress, that is what the other bridemaids are going to do,” she informed me. Peach satin pumps! I was hoping it was a wedding joke and that the next day she would call back and tell me that we were all going to wear shoes of our choice. Nope. Dyeables it was.

I was on a hunt to find the least expensive pair of peach pumps that I could get my hands on. I went to the most run down mall I could find, in Sunnyvale, by my office. After devouring a piping hot corn dog and lemonade from Hot Dog on a Stick, I proceeded to investigate the shoe situation. I found one store that looked like it might be able to help me. The shoes in the window were all marked down to $9.99 and that was just about as much as I was willing to pay. Inside I found the rack of Dyeable “satine” shoes. “Thirty-nine dollars!” I blurted out loud. “That doesn’t include the five dollars to dye them,” the sales clerk informed me. I couldn’t believe that I was about to spend fifty dollars on a pair of purple pumps. It was criminal. I didn’t want them. I never wanted to wear them. But the bride gets what the bride wants… I handed over my fabric swatch and tried to complete the transaction as quickly as possible. The sooner it was over, the sooner I could begin to forget what I was just spending fifty dollars on. When it was all over I retreated back to the food court to ease the pain. The chocolate Cinnabons looked so good and tasted even better.

grey-mary-janes

Dark Grey Suede Slip-on Mary Janes with Light Blue Trim

Dark Grey Suede Slip-on Mary Janes with Light Blue Trim

Cloud 9 Nine West
Early Fall, 2001
Palo Alto, CA

One of my very very best friends died unexpectedly of a heart condition on July 1st, 2000. She was only twenty-nine. Larkin loved shoes as much as I did. I remember once when she called me from her cell phone just to tell me about a pair of Dr. Fluevogs she was trying on at a small boutique on Haight Street. After a hurried description she asked if she should get them or wait for me to come check them out and help her decide which color to get. Usually one to encourage all shoe expenditures, I told her to get the red ones. She brought them right over and we celebrated with a glass of champagne.

One afternoon a little over a year after Larkin had passed away, Larkin’s sister Liz, my other best friend Patty and I took to the Stanford Shopping Center – always a place to soothe the soul. We tried not to talk about Larkin too much that day for fear that any one of us might suddenly burst into tears. I never had a problem crying in public after her death, it was just that we were trying to have a nice simple day out. You couldn’t help but think of her when we were all together – something was always noticeably missing.

After rummaging about for an hour or so through Neiman Marcus, Oakville Grocery and a bunch of other shops we walked in to Nine West. Suddenly there were so many shoes that reminded us of her. “Larkin would love these,” Patty mentioned holding up a pair of stack heeled mary janes. I found a pair of dark gray slip-ons that I thought she would like too. I loved them and I knew she would urge me to get them if she was there with us. I tried them on and walked about the store. Patty gave me the nod, Liz gave me the nod. I told the sales clerk, “I’ll take them.” That was my single purchase for the day. Liz drove us home in her new wagon and we all said our goodbyes.

I still wear these shoes quite a bit. I keep them in regular rotation even though they make my feet a little sweaty. They are absolutely perfect with a pair of jeans. Whenever I wear them, or look at them on the shelf they remind me of Larkin. Even though she wasn’t physically there with us shopping that day – she was there in our hearts and always will be.


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