Flaming Suede Airwalks

Flaming Suede Airwalks

May 1998
San Francisco, California

The swing dancers and rockabilly band had finished their last set at Club Deluxe and my blind date, Dr. R., and I agreed it was time to go home. It was late and we were both exhausted. We left the club and headed down to Haight Street towards his car. There was a window full of funky sneakers so we both stopped to take a look. Up in the right corner was a wonderful pair of flaming Airwalks. I couldn’t believe how cute they were with those red and orange flames climbing up the toe and sides of the shoe. They just looked big and round and so comfortable. I wanted them so much but of course at 1:10 am, the store was closed. By morning I might have thought they were silly, but when I woke up the next day they were the first thing on my mind. Unfortunately, I had to go out of town on business for a week so I wasn’t able to go get them. Every day while I was up in Seattle I thought about the shoes. “What if they are gone when I get back?” I wondered. The week couldn’t be any longer.

Finally, Friday arrived and I returned back to San Francisco. I wouldn’t make any plans on Saturday, knowing that my priority was to get the shoes. Saturday morning, I skipped breakfast and jumped into my 1964 ½ gold Mustang. I was going to Haight Street. Parking in that neighborhood is never easy but this day I was really put to the test. Up one block, down another, a right turn, left turn, a prayer to the parking gods and still no luck. After 40 minutes my patience had been thoroughly tested. “Okay, maybe I don’t really need these stupid shoes with the flames on them.” I gave myself 10 more minutes to find a place, if I wasn’t able to find a parking spot, I would just go home. I finally parked, be it half a mile away, but at least I was out of the car.

I ran down the street in search of the store. As soon as I walked in I grabbed the shoe from the window display and asked for my size. I barely tried them on before I had handed the young skate rat with blue spiked hair my Visa card. Not really sure if my car was in a legal parking spot, I just wanted to get back to it before it got towed. I signed the receipt, grabbed the box and ran back to the car. When I got home I tried the shoes on again with socks. They were a little tight but I couldn’t fathom the idea of taking them back for a bigger size. If I don’t wear them for long periods of time, and never wore thick socks I figured I would be okay.

Dr. R. and I went out a few more times. Nothing serious. He feigned interest and told me he thought the shoes were “really cool.” I realized my big toe could endure a little pain – no problem – I’d keep the shoes. Dr. R. on the other hand, was history.


Blue Sequined Slides

Blue Sequined Slides

March, 2000
San Francisco, CA

My boyfriend, J., was short. Not super short, but short enough that my mother was concerned that he might be detrimental to my already imperfect posture. Upon careful examination of my shoe collection I noticed a gaping hole – I needed flats. And with a dire need for flats, I went straight to Saks Fifth Avenue.

The shoe department at Saks was a little on the small side (it has since been remodeled and they now dedicate the entire bottom floor to shoes) but I always managed to find at least one pair of shoes that I couldn’t live without. This day would be no exception. For better or worse, they were having a sale. And with a sale meant it would be even easier to justify any and all purchases. The salesman, Ron, was terrifically attentive and before I knew it I sat amongst a swarm of flats in every color. I had never been a huge fan of flats, other than flip flops, but I was finding many spring gems – wonderful colors and details and little flowers and sparkle. I had it narrowed down to four pairs. Feeling a little uncertain about the long term stability of the relationship, I felt four might be a bit excessive. With that logic, I opted for a practical pair of Kate Spade black sling backs and a sparkly pair of blue sequined DKNY slides that didn’t cover much more than my toes. Ron wrapped the boxes up and with a swipe of my Visa I was on my way home.

When I got back to my apartment I immediately opened the boxes and began to peter around the carpet. Hmmmm…. Flats really make your feel look flat. My feet aren’t especially long but they just seemed really flat looking in the black sling backs. I then switched over to the sequined slides. Very sassy. Within 20 minutes I had the beginning of a few new blisters but other than that, they were adorable.

The next evening J. informed me that he had to catch the red eye to New York. Rather than taking him directly to the airport he suggested that we go out and whoop it up in San Francisco first and then I’d drop him off at SFO after dinner on my way back down to Palo Alto. It was a plan. Before dinner I asked if we could swing by Saks so I could return the flats that make my feet look too flat and he obliged.

That alone was a shocking moment, as he had never entered any mall or shopping center with me. He hated shopping. He hated stores. He bought everything he could online. But this time, he graciously carried the Saks bag into the store and we took the escalators up to the third floor. Ron was working and he remembered me and my pile of flats during my evening of indecision. He greeted me with a friendly, “Back again I see.” J. looked at me nervously, “They know you? How often do you come here?” “Not often,” I coyly responded. Ron took care of the return and J. and I were on our way.

That weekend I had made plans to hang out with the girls. Angela wanted to go up to Union Square and do a little shopping. It sounded delightful to me. Four of us girls decided to make a day of it in San Francisco. I mentioned on the way up that Saks was having a bit of a sale. I held up my new snazzy new sequined slides and they all ohhhhhed and ahhhhed. Always fans of a good sale the girls wanted to check it out. Three visits in one week to the shoe department in Saks. I guess my life could be worse.

Just like clock work Ron was there again. “Alisa, welcome back, and with friends this time” he cheered. Within minutes we had sprawled ourselves out on the chairs and took turns trying on nearly every shoe on the racks. One by one, we’d slip one on, walk over to the other girls and ask “So what do you think?” We found ourselves quite generously doling out the: “I love them, you have to get them!” “Yes those!” “Oh my God, those are soooo cute!” “You can wear those with everything!” “They are on sale, buy them both!” An hour and a half later, Angela and Srinija each found a pair than we could not live without. Mustering up every ounce of willpower I could, I told Ron, “Nope, I don’t think I’ll be getting any this time.” If only J. was taller, I would have bought the red Manolo stilettos.


Snake Skin Sling Backs

Snake Skin Sling Backs

Banana Republic
August 2000
Palo Alto, California

He was such a snake!

My boyfriend’s parents had been in town a week earlier and the four of us had spent a terrific week together. We had been wine tasting in Napa, feasted on escargot up in the hills in Woodside, and even rode the rides on the Santa Cruz boardwalk. I remember when I first walked into J’s apartment to meet his parents. His dad stood up and opened his arms to me, “You are so beautiful.” Needless to say we hit it off immediately. J. was an internet analyst for a prominent investment bank. We genuinely loved being together – whether it was just hanging out around the pool, pruning his tomato plants, or exploring great restaurants from the beach to San Francisco. I was smitten.

J. was off on a business trip. He gave me a call and asked that I fax a copy of his passport to him because he needed to meet with a company up in Canada and he forgot to bring his passport. He thought it was in his dresser somewhere and figured if I just poked around, I’d find it. Needless to say, I found a lot more than his passport.

Poorly hidden under the folded towels was a stack of pictures and letters from what turned out to be his “other” girlfriend. I was completely stunned. I felt so sick and so confused that I was motionless. From the post marks on the envelopes it was clear that she lived in New York. He traveled back there regularly since his firm’s headquarters were in Manhattan. Did his parents and sisters know about this? Did his friends know that he had a girlfriend on each coast? In a fit of utter rage, I left the letters and pictures on his table and picked up every last possession of mine that I could find in his apartment. That was it. As much as I wanted to be with him, I knew I would never be able to trust him again. I just couldn’t do it.

When he returned, he didn’t even have the nerve to call me. I couldn’t take it so I just went over to his place. I just wanted an explanation. We spent a day or two considering the possibility of reconciliation. He said he wanted to be with me but that he needed to talk to H. (the other girlfriend) in person and end things forever with her in person. She flew out over Labor Day weekend. He insisted that this would be the end and once she left, we would start over with a fresh beginning. He promised me that everything would work out. I wanted so much to believe him. I wanted to trust him again. I wanted it so bad. He told me to my face that he would call as soon as she had left. My friends thought I was crazy. “He’s balding and he wears pink!” they would exclaim, “You can do better.” I never cared about his hair and I figured I could deal with the pink shirts. I just wanted to be with him.

Over the weekend I was obviously a wreck. A friend took me to the Stanford Shopping Center to pass time. The Stanford Shopping Center has always been a favorite of mine – the beautiful flowers, the sun shining and all of the very best stores. I must have called to check my messages every 20 minutes or so. He still hadn’t called. I was furious and heart broken. She told me over and over again that I deserved someone better. With tears streaming down my face, I had to buy something. The very next store we entered – there they were. A perfect pair of snake skin sling backs with just a little heel. They were perfect for work and I knew they would look great with pants and skirts. And snake skin – it goes with everything. I loved them. I handed the sales girl my Visa and in minutes they were mine.

When I got home I put them on and wore them around my apartment. I felt so sassy in these shoes and couldn’t stop staring at my feet. I finally smiled. I tried them on with my suede skirt – super cute, my black leather skirt – even cuter.

I waited and waited and waited and the phone never rang. In the long run, I know I am much better off with the shoes.


Red Suede Creepers

Red Suede Creepers

Marley of London
January, 2002
Palo Alto, California

I had been laid off from work a few weeks earlier (thanks to that dot com bubble bursting) and was now splitting my time between sweating on the elliptical machine and baking chocolate chip cookies. I was trying not to let my fruitless job search bring me down. I was embracing unemployment and enjoying my new life as a lady of leisure. The only problem I had with being unemployed was not having a paycheck. Suddenly trips to Neiman’s became look-but-don’t-touch for fear of finding something I had to have. Eventually I swore off all boutiques, the entire Stanford Shopping Center, the Valley Fair mall and was trying to limit spontaneous visits to San Francisco. I wasn’t allowing myself to buy anything. I would go shopping with friends occasionally and convince them to buy things so that I could relish in their great finds.

My boyfriend, Steve, was absolutely wonderful to me after I lost my job. I had told him how hard it was to look at all of the cute new shoes in Lucky magazine – knowing that I wasn’t allowed to have any of them. He laughed, but knew I was becoming increasingly miserable.

One day he came home from work a little later than usual. I heard him let himself in and he yelled out, “Dear, I have something for you.” “Presents for me?” I exclaimed jumping out of my black canvas chair and dashing into the living room. He had his hands tucked behind his back. “I want you to have these,” he said as he unveiled the shoe box and placed it in my hands. I slowly lifted the lid and there they were – his favorite pair of red suede Creepers, size 12. He had worn them in high school in the 80s when he cruised around on his beat up Vespa scooter. It was the sweetest gift anyone had ever given me. He knew how much I loved shoes and knew that these would be perfect for my collection. Though I will never be able to wear them they made me realize that I may have found someone who is perfect for me. I had finally found a man who understood that a pair of shoes could mean so much more than just a pair of shoes.


Red Silk Mules with Braided Sling Back & Kitten Heels

Red Silk Mules with Braided Sling Back & Kitten Heels

Louis Vuitton
January, 2003
Beverly Hills, California

When most girls dream of their wedding day they fantasize about the billowing Vera Wang white princess dress, the tendrils of hair that will fall perfectly around their face, the number of tiers on their lemon chiffon cake, and bountiful bouquets of roses and lilies for each bridesmaid. I dreamed only of my shoes. And I knew I wanted them to be red.

Mom and I were down in Beverly Hills for a day of shopping. We had just spent the last hour at Barney’s trying on their vast collection of Vera Wang gowns. Slipping in to one size four dress after another when you are a size twelve is not my idea of a fantasy shopping experience. The saleswoman continually asked me to “imagine” what it would look like and how it would hang if it were in the right size. Much easier said than done. The strapless lace gown I like the best actually zipped up over my hips and would set me back about twelve thousand dollars. With that, I knew we had to keep on looking.

I knew I hadn’t found “the one” so Mom and I decided to head over to the Cheesecake Factory for a cobb salad before our next gown appointment at a small boutique over on Robertson. We were strolling up Rodeo Drive and walked right by the Louis Vuitton store on the corner. My mom and I had seen a pair of red shoes in their recent advertisements that we thought might work for my wedding. They reminded me of Audrey Hepburn, with their dainty sling backs, pointy toes and kitten heels. I assumed that they would cost a small fortune. A fortune that I didn’t have. We were half way down the next block when I told my mom that we had to go back. I had to see the shoes.

As we entered the store I quickly looked around trying to find the shoe department. It didn’t take long. There they were – my wedding day shoes. I just knew it. A small Japanese woman wearing an LV fanny pack contraption came over and asked if I needed any help. I held up the red kitten heels in sheer delight – in awe really. I was too afraid to turn them over to see how much they cost. I told her that they were for my wedding and she looked at me in utter confusion. “We have white and gold ones with the monogram,” she obviously thought would be more appropriate. No, I wanted the red ones. Confused yet amused, she wandered off to get them for me.

As soon as I tried them on, it only confirmed what I already knew, I had to have them. I finally got up the nerve to ask the price and tried not to get faint when she told me how much. I tried to remind myself that it was just a number. I just took a deep breathe and pulled out my credit card. My mom asked me how much they were and I told her that it just didn’t matter. Not to worry. I reminded her that I’m only getting married once. A few hundred here, a few hundred there – isn’t that what most weddings are about anyways?

On May 22nd, 2003 it was my turn to walk down the aisle. I had the roses, the filet mignon, and the flowing silk organza dress. I had taken the Vogue cover of Madonna as Eva Peron to the salon and they twisted and pinned and sprayed my hair into a perfect chignon and painted my face just like Evita’s. I also had my fabulous Louis Vuitton red silk shoes peeping out from my dress. Underneath the setting sun, I stood there next to my father staring down the aisle at the only thing I had ever wanted more than a pair of silver bejeweled Manolo Blahniks, Steve, the most honest, kind and generous man I had ever met. A man who would love, honor and cherish me and my shoes forever.

Saks Fifth Avenue


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