I love shoes. And I’m not talking in the she-who-dies-with-the-most-shoes-wins kind of love for shoes. That shit is for people who print cocktail napkins that retail in over-priced kitchen gadget stores. (I love these stores. If William Sonoma or Sur La Table had a Victoria Secret style runway fashion week, I would become the Cindy Leive* of the cooking-fashionista world.) No no no. I am talking about shoes that shape your attitude and your day – quite possibly your life – and not necessarily your ass, although managing to do all those at once is Amazing.
Shoes? Meet Hurricane.
AA style please, everyone. “Hi my name is- – – and I’m an alcoholic.” (in unison) “HI – – – !”
Hurricane is my mom. And she held the tightest of control over my wardrobe for as long as she could. I was a survivor of the Parents Just Don’t Understand wardrobe malfunctions of the 1980s.**
Hurricane is so named because she is a Force Of Nature. More than mastering the Evil Eye and the Vulcan Death Grip (which she calls “Lockdown”, and has actually come in handy for children 4 and under) she escalates to a Category 4 or 5 because when she has made up her mind that something should happen, or be done, it must be done in a certain way as well. Things should proceed in a certain order, according to her precise directives. And the thing is? THEN THE SHIT HAPPENS. No one has a choice. All in her path are powerless against her. Much like it would be useless to argue or employ Socratic methods of inquiry or reason with real one, any attempts to get the Hurricane to deviate, or even listen, are FUTILE. At the height of her forward momentum, she is more powerful the Spanish Inquisition and A.I.M.*** combined and demands your fear, if not a certain level of respect. Because she will destroy your shit. Demolish anything in her way without remorse. The best anyone can do is simply EVACUATE.
We have tried, with certain levels of success to channel the Crazy and direct the path and/or speed of the Hurricane, but ultimately, she can’t be stopped. It’s her way or the WRONG way. See where this is going?
I am always wrong. My hair wrong (length, style, color, have your pick). My clothes are wrong. Too short, too revealing, too dark, too fill-in-the-blank. My car, my language, my taste in movies, books, men, my life choices, my shoes… Insert record scratch here.
Bitch, back off about my shoes.
As soon as I got my driver’s license, I got my first job, and with my first paycheck I bought two things: Michael Jackson’s Thriller album, (LP, bitches!) and my first pair of heels over 1.5 inches. They were black, leather, stylish Mary Janes with 3 inch heels. Hurricane yelled at me for 20 minutes before coming up for air. It was impressive. They were trashy. Too old for me. Cheap. Tacky. Low Class. Slutty. TRASHY. With every adjective she threw at me, I loved them more. And I told her so. Our screaming matches were never anything if not creative. This one was inventive, as she described her vision of my inevitable future as a ”street walker” (Awesome.) I told her I would only wear them where they were appropriate then.
I wore them to church the next Sunday.
Now I went to a fine Baptist Church in which, on any given Sunday, you would see 95% of the congregation wearing their Sunday Finest, which in the south means nice, conservative dresses and jewelry that during the week lived in a special box on your dresser. My grandparents went to this church. Paternal, that is. As in, the ones who used virtually the exact string of shoe adjectives flung at me the day before, to describe Hurricane herself when they tried to convince my dad not to marry her in 1967. (Again, Awesome.)
DB and QTip (said paternal grandparents) had to address the Shoes. After 2-3 hours of Sunday school, FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) meetings, and then Worship Service, news had traveled. Reagan had just told Gorby to “Tear Down That Wall” but that was nothing compared to the news of my fucking Mary Jane Stripper Shoes debut in the sanctuary that Sunday.
After the service, everyone is milling around in the usual fellowship and gossip exchange, and the wide eyes and smirks are collecting fast. I am loving it. I am walking with Golden Boy (my brother) and Hurricane towards the door, but you cannot escape DB, who remarks to me, without preamble, that my shoes are very tall. He says this in his unmistakably clear “They are unacceptable, and you need to take them off before you fall on your face and embarrass me” tone of voice.
Hurricane squares her shoulders. Golden Boy and I exchange looks. This is Category 2, hovering just east of Haiti, threatening to make landfall.
“She bought them with her own money. We’re so proud of her for getting her first job.”
Well played, Hurricane. DB loves money than anything else in this world. And the making of it. And the making more of it. And the multiplying of it in the NYSE. And the using it to force his minions in to submission. And the… you get the point.
QTip (so named because she was 5’8”, size 2 skinny, with a grey-white bulbous old lady hairdo that made her, from a distance, look JUST like a walking QTip) gives me her patented half-shoulder-obligatory-hug-with-cheek-kiss.
“Bless your heart. I think they’re cute.”
QTip was known to drop $300 and $400 on a pair of shoes from the nicer boutique shops in town, a fact Hurricane loved to bring up at inconvenient moments during our Epic Fail Shopping Outings. She was married to a DB, after all, a very wealthy man, and was forever shopping for new clothes, scarves, shoes, the cost of which was never in contention. Whatever made her happy.
Golden Boy and I relaxed. No need for storm shutters.
DB countered with something like “you should spend your paycheck more wisely” but the moment for asserting himself with the most potential obnoxiousness had passed, and so his heart wasn’t in it.
Hurricane shot him a Tropical Storm smile, and we were off.
I think QTip would not have been so nice if she’d known they were Rack Room discount aisle specials. She was, after all, a consummate snob. In fact, I’m pretty sure she may have even been confused and thought they were some form of Corrective Shoes; she often regarded me as if she thought I did and said things because I was “touched”. But regardless, she had said they were “cute” which gave the older Betties in the choir permission to say nice things the next Wednesday night rehearsal.
Hurricane never again screamed about my shoes. She often makes fun of them, rolls her eyes, asks me if I can give her singles for the 20 in her purse, (get it? From my shift pole dancing?) or most often, she will apologize loudly to other people within ATM space of me for my lack of suitable footwear. Meet Hurricane.
And, as a point of fact, I never did sink to a life of prostitution. Just in case you were wondering.
*Editor-in-Chief of Glamour magazine. Puh Leez.
**Thank you Will Smith, for feeling my Pain.
*** Captain America’s arch enemy A.I.M. = A terrorist organization of scientists dedicated to world power and the overthrow of all government through a technological revolution. Read a comic book every now and then people. It’s good for you.