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Folding Shoes April 27, 2018

Posted by voolavex in birthday, mother, serial monster, funeral, life baggage, loss, dead, death certificate, guilt, My Mother, Social Issues.
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Today is my late mother’s birthday.  Had she lived, she would have been 95.  And had she lived I wonder what would have happened. I wonder about it too often, I think.

When I was a girl of tweenage – 11ish I’d say I went to Ballroom Dancing School in Salem, Massachusetts.  The teacher, Harriet James, was a kind of crone ‘too old to be teaching much of anything’ and she was bitter because she was teaching dancing school in Salem, Massachusetts. Dreams do not always come true.   She had a sort of Boston Brahmin/British accent, dyed hair, and a clicker.  (Used to be sold to kids at Halloween as well as in dime stores.  I have one-…thought I would “train” kittens and I knew better – cats come trained.  But I digress).  As we stumbled and counted in time to the music and we tried to learn the upper crust skills for the cotillion or debutante ball none of us would ever go to, she clicked at errors in waltzes, box-steps, cha-chas and the record would abruptly stop and we would start over again.  And boy, could she work that clicker with malice aforethought.  The sound still haunts me. I hate to think what she would do with a Flicker Spinner today. It was a class for boys and girls.  Mostly girls.  This culminated in fancy dress “Ball” we all wanted to attend and of course to win the 1st prize or just be the best.  Something like that.

I was a very thin child and wore glasses and in my own mind, no beauty. Clothes usually never fit right but the real problem was shoes.  I had feet like snakes.  Long and thin and in order to actually wear shoes, they had to be ordered from St. Louis.  From the shoe factory direct and so no Thom McAn’s for my AAAA/AAAAA feet.  (How I longed for cute, chubby feet with little cute toes).  And, we are talking “good” shoes –  au courant ballet flats for wearing with full length, tulle ball gowns.  Black or red or white (red was best) or, dare I say – gold or silver.  As I recall, my good shoes came a long way from St. Louis but color-wise they still had a long, long way to go in the metallics.  I had to endure jokes about glass slippers and sox and of course, I had no clue about my single mother’s money situation.  I just wanted “good shoes”, for the Ball.  And I knew how to whine.  And whine I did while my wonderful mother searched high and low for some sort of “good shoes” for me to wear to Miss Jame’s’s Ball.

I went to the lessons weekly and actually got the hang of the various dances but the thrill was gone.  Shoes were my only concern.  The dress was purchased.  Filene’s Basement.  And one fine day my mother came into the house with a shopping bag from a department store and announced she had found the shoes.  In gold, in my size and she presented the shoes to me with a smile and a sigh of relief as I tuned up and started to pitch a running fit.  “These are FOLDING SHOES”. ” They FOLD.  I don’t want shoes that fold”. I will not wear them and don’t get shoes that FOLD.”  A full-fledged tantrum and she was about to cry. “Just try them on”, she pleaded.  I screamed “No” and sobbed. And they sat on the table in their tacky plastic case, gold and FOLDED.  Night fell, I pouted and we went to bed.  By morning we had both gathered our arguments like Philadelphia lawyers and the “shoes” were once again on the table. “No,” said I. “I just won’t go”. And went to my room. And waited. And then as only mothers can  – she said, calmly through the door she would take them back and left them on the table. And went down the stairs and out the door.  What could I do now; ungrateful, spoiled snake footed bitch that I was?  I attacked the plastic case, unfolded the shoes and put them on. And they did fit.  And they did sparkle and they would work perfectly.  And because my mother was beautiful and perfect and wonderful,  I went to the Ball and my shoes never got mentioned.   But they were the first in a long series of folding shoes I wore until I watch a real teenager and the memory still makes me laugh.

Now, of course, comes the irony of ironies, she didn’t live to see that rebranded folding shoes are now “amazing” and “cool” and “all that”.  She would never see them all over the Internet (she wouldn’t see that either).  She would never gasp, as I do, at the prices asked for what used to come, folded, in a tacky plastic case for $2,99 at Jordan’s.   Choices unlimited, all colors and made mostly of pleather and vinyl and sometimes even leather and always “imported” from the Mystery Land of Folding Shoes. Who would have ever thought?

So for -, Happy Birthday Momma.  You left far too soon. But I see you in my dreams. and in memories of the damn folding shoes.

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