My name is Annie and I am a shoe-aholic.
I own thirty-five pairs of shoes.
Not counting the dozen or so Victorian boot ornaments that hang on my tree every Christmas.
When I studied anthropology in college, I learned about a tribe who collected yams as a sign of wealth. The bigger your pile of yams, including those rotting at the bottom, the higher your social status. The equivalent of my rotting yams are the shoes in my closet I've never worn. Somehow I convinced myself my wardrobe would not be complete without a pair of ankle boots. Even though the boots came in one color, a peculiar shade of taupe grey. They'll go with everything, I assured myself. But the truth is, the only thing they go with is my fantasy of who I'd be when I wore them. A kick-ass confident woman who doesn't walk, she strides, and who whistles for a cab with her fingers. A woman who wears colorful hose and miniskirts. Yeah, I could totally pull that off.
Though I have no idea what wannabe woman I was channeling when I bought the slip-on sneakers that make my feet look like boat paddles. Or the wafer-thin sandals that are so insubstantial. I don't dare walk around the house in them, much less outside.
The sorry truth is, I am hoarding quite a few rotting yams. My fantasy excuse may not hold up, but I can make a case for the importance of footwear to me as a writer. The shoes a character wears are a telling detail. A heroine in stiletto heels suggests an entirely different person than one wearing Birkenstock sandals (which, forgive me, suggest unshaved legs). And the shoe dictates the verb. She may trudge, slog, or trek in those Birkenstocks, but she can strut in those heels (like my theoretical stride in the ankle boots).
Academic papers have been written debating whether the French words for Cinderella's glass slippers, pantoufe de verre, were actually a mistranslation of pantoufe de vair - squirrel fur slippers. Squirrel? Really? I don't know about you, but if I'm going to suspend disbelief to enjoy a fairy tale, I'm willing to go all out. Granted, fur might have kept Cinderella's tootsies warm. But what is lovelier, more impractical, more princess-y than a slipper made of glass? One of the mean stepsisters could have squeezed her hoof into a fur shoe, but glass? Forget about it. When it comes to fantasy footwear, one size does NOT fit all.
All well and good. Hurrah for me making a case for shoes. But no one needs thirty-five pairs, not even Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge. A closet purge is definitely in order. I even know which donation box to drop them into.
It occurs to me, though - if I start getting rid of shoes, where will it end? Coffee mugs, including the one that says, "World's Best Mom?" (thanks, kids!) Rubbermaid containers? I could store fewer leftovers, I suppose. And they fall into the category of objects that don't necessarily bring me "joy." But - gasp! - books? Discard or donate books from a library it's taken me a lifetime to select and nurture and move from state to state? The horror! The horror! I refuse to go down that slippery slope. The shoes stay. All seventy of them.
My name is Annie and I am a book-aholic.