Wednesday, July 27, 2011

With Regret Still

I know that this post is hopelessly materialistic, and that it has little to do with diversity (but some relation to discomfort). But still. I came across this photo in a mish-mosh pile on my desk. And then it was a moment of Proustian remembrance of things past.

Oh, dear. Are they not wonderful? I don't think you can get the detail, nor appreciate the colors from this photo (black with pink stitching on the left; reddish/rust with chartreuse stitching on the right). But these are the shoes I did not buy when I was in London five or six years ago. The stitching says "cha-cha-cha," and the footprints show how to do the dance.
     I went back several times to this store to try on these shoes. My husband and daughter accompanied me without complaint. Why did I not buy? One size felt just a tiny bit too small, and the next size up felt just a tiny bit too large. And I couldn't decide which color to get, and I wanted both colors, but two pairs of shoes that I might not be able to wear? Discomfort.
     I have looked (without success) on line for these shoes several times since. But why? Would they fit differently now?

10 comments: said...

One size too big; one size too small. Your words have a big message!

Maybe the reason you are looking for the shoes is because of the memories they elicit.

These shoes are popular in N CA. Good luck.

Susan Messer said...

You mean you've seen people wearing cha-cha-cha shoes? Wow. Radical.

I like the memory, but I really, really feel like I want those shoes.

Jim Poznak said...

I don't think you really wanted the cha-cha-cha shoes because you did not buy them. I think you really liked, and still really like, the idea of them.

Susan Messer said...

You don't think I wanted the cha-cha-cha shoes? It's true that I have some problems with wanting THINGS. said...

Wanting is healthy!

When I looked at the pictured shoes carefully, I realized those I've seen are not the same. When I Googled cha cha shoes. I found very different shoes than those you are pining for. They were designed by what I refer to as men who don't have to wear such atrociously harmful and painful shoes. Very high heels, which are in style now.

I thought the shoe was much like shoes I've seen in N CA, where everyone is so hip. They are cloth, sometimes black, sometimes an Asian design and look like the patent leather shoes with a strap across the mid foot (I'm terrible at this), like the ones my mother bought me for dress, but they rarely fit because "dress" wasn't all that often and in those days, buying big was the deal for people like my parents whose financial status did not allow for many extras. I would be surprised if the shoe I describe was not available where you live. So, sorry I led you astray. The shoe I describe looks more comfortable than in your picture, but has no support. My mother took me to a shoe store on Grand River near the Riveria where the excitement was putting my feet into the x-ray machine before leaving with Buster Brown who lived in the shoe. The shoe store was almost at the site you describe in the first part of your first book.

First book. Sounds great!

Susan Messer said...

Thanks. I was going to be pretty perturbed if people all over S. Cal were wearing those cha-cha-cha shoes. They're leather, by the way. Very high quality. And expensive (especially with the exchange rate), which was another impediment for me besides the size.

Margaret P. said...

I'm not so much thinking about shoes when I read this post, but about a purchasing decision I made recently and how I justified it to myself.

I wanted to buy a road bike. Never had one before, and I have a dream of maybe taking one of those biking tours of France or Spain. But I'd need to work up to it; I'm not in my twenties anymore. And I thought maybe I should start with Vermont.

So I tried finding a used bike--didn't want to spend more than $300. My boss (an avid cyclist) looked at me with disdain when I said this. With summer quickly passing and no used bikes that fit me on the horizon, I went to a store. Within an hour I had purchased a beautiful bike for more than 4x what I had planned to spend.

It wasn't too hard to justify it. For one thing, I could have spent 16x or 20x what I wanted to spend, so technically I got a bike on the low end of the price spectrum. Secondly, the bike should last me a very long time, perhaps averaging to $100/year expense more or less.

But spending a lot of money on "things" is not easy for me either. In the store, the voice I heard in my head was that of my financial advisor. He introduced this idea that if the "confidence level" of my investment plan is over a certain percentage, that means I may be "subjecting myself to undue sacrifice in lifestyle."

I had a hard time coming to terms with this notion when he introduced it to me. First of all, who can possibly be confident of anything in this political climate? Living in D.C. these days makes one want to slit one's wrists. Second, I have never put "sacrifice" and "lifestyle" in the same sentence before. What wealthy people we are to be able to think this way? So why do I always feel like I'm on the edge of poverty?

Anyway, I allowed myself to make this extravagant purchase because these days biking is how I keep my anxiety levels down, or at least keep them from spiraling out of control. Plus, it's a really cool-looking bike. Probably worth every penny.

Susan Messer said...

Very interest. First, I didn't realize that you suffered from this same affliction--struggling with purchases, feeling on the edge of poverty besides many signs to the contrary. And I'm with you on the "how can one be confident of anything?" question. I'm glad you bought the bike. This seems like a very practical purchase--for its ability to relieve anxiety as well as contribute to your physical health and fitness (and [in a return to our natural apocalyptic mode] ability to get places after all the fossil fuels are unavailable).

My husband's family is far more comfortable with spending money that my (first) family, and it has been interesting to me to observe this. Though as with everything, it (their relationship with money) turns out to be more nuanced than it initially appeared.

In the end (I hate to say it), a sense of financial security comes down to one's interior sense of security. Money is only paper, or metal, or electrical currents, after all.

I read a funny thing in Newsweek the other day . . . The writer referred to the WASP nightmare as "living on principal."

Jim Poznak said...

Susan, your comment about the nightmare of living on principal reminds me of a similar heartwrench suffered by Kenneth Lay's wife, post-Enron. She said that she and Ken were struggling for liquidity.

Susan Messer said...

I guess it's all relative.