Six foot two, about 120 pounds, and wearing hot pink, untied high top canvas shoes that were dragging untied yellow laces. Five foot nothing, about 185 pounds and wearing silvery flats that sparkle with bedazzled green and blue gems. Now from those descriptions would you believe that the first person was a woman and the second was a man? Yep. Both were customers that I noticed at a Chinese Buffet restaurant not long ago. So as I gobbled up my sweet and sour chicken and fried rice all of a sudden everyone’s shoes were of up most importance. In regards to the chicken and rice, I am habitually rutted to those two items and I am not adventurous when it comes to eating. I like to know without surprises what I am about to consume. But back to those shoes…
This particular restaurant was a busy place so the number of feet that strode by was numerable and some more memorable than others. There were work boots smeared with mud and whatnot. The whatnot came off in chunks and puffs in front of the terriyaki chicken ka-bobs. I did not have the ka-bobs. There were several flip flops, one youngster kept flipping his flops off. I kept imagining one flipping off and flopping into the stainless steel pan of mushrooms in oyster sauce. I think his flippers were a size or two too big for as they smacked the floor it sounded like caps snapping off in a cap gun.
I once thought I wanted hot pink tennis shoes, not so much anymore. The bloom is definitely off that rose now! But during the rest of that meal I couldn’t help wondering what in the world happened to shoe etiquette. My husband’s grandmother who was Czechoslovakian, very proper, wore a hat everywhere she went, was absolutely appalled if you wore shoes that were not polished before you left the house. She, as he tells it, would shame you into grabbing the Kiwi polish and giving your loafers the once over before going to grandma Machacek’s house. She would make you feel like this was the most important thing you could do. To make a good first impression, shine them up, “because people looked at your shoes first, shoes make the man” she would cackle.
One couple at the restaurant looked like they were maybe on a first date. Young, early twenties. I couldn’t tell if her black sued platform high heels or her hair was taller. He was just so smitten and his shoes were well worn brand name athletic shoes that had seen better days but were always pointed at her. Boots, heels, flats, suede, canvas and yes, crocks. Not one pair did I see that were polish-able. Not even mine or my husbands. We all seem to go for comfort these days. Times change.
I personally look at peoples teeth first. That comes from my years and years of having really bad teeth. Had my smile fixed when I got my first job that offered insurance, as a telephone operator in Ely, Nevada. Best investment of my deductable I ever made. Now mind you I do not judge people on their teeth, not anything like Grandma Adeline Machacek did about shoes. I just like to see people smile.
It’s a first impression world out there. When you meet someone what do you notice first? Starting at the top there is hair; clean, bushed, kept? Maybe it’s their eyes; clear, inviting, colorful? A smile; friendly but not too much so, followed by words of friendly encouragement? The list continues downward; clothes, strong open handshake, fingernails, posture and finally those darn shoes.
Grandma grew up in a time here there were usually only two pair of shoes in closet. Work shoes and go to town shoes. I seem to have way too many work shoes and not nearly enough going to town shoes.
I never got comfortable having my feet measured and squashed into some shoe that the salesman tells me looks, “just perfect.” I know I have work shoe feet. I usually wear a pair of athletic type shoes with a blue N embroidered on the side; I like to think that N stands for Nevada instead of the shoe makers’ insignia.
It would not have been such an interesting time at that Chinese restaurant had more of the patrons realized that they too did not have go to town shoes and feet, but more in the line of work shoe feet. But that is why in the mall there are always more places to buy shoes than anything else. But that is another story altogether.
Trina Machacek lives in Eureka, Nevada her book ITY BITS can be found on kindle. Share your thoughts and opinions wither at firstname.lastname@example.org