I’m Kind of An Old Woman, and While I Don’t Live in a Shoe, I Believe I Could Cobble Together a Modest Colonial Out of Boots and Flip-Flops, Featuring a Sunroom Constructed of Cleats


Personally, my waters are a bit muddy. I don’t perceive things as black or white, and my moral compass has never tweaked to true north.

Hmmmm. There have got to be a few more metaphor/analogy/simile/personifications I can toss into that confusing mix. Try these: “my integrity shifts with even the smallest seismic activity” and, um, “my moods waft in and out with the tide.”

There. That linguistic mess should have Strunk and White reaching for each other in a darkened library somewhere, seeking comfort, fumbling around for each others’ “ink pens” with their lily-white, uncalloused editors’ hands.

The point is that, due to all the mud and shades of grey and spinning compass needles, I am eminently casuistic and corruptible. If it’s shiny and hanging in front of my face, I will reach up, drooling, and snatch at it.

This tendency proved particularly unfortunate when someone hung a set of Ginsu knives from a maple tree down the street.

It’s not so hard to get by with seven fingers, I’m here to tell you.

Plus, thumbs are overrated.

Anyhow, due to all my suspect internal bidness, I’m a swirling mess of happy-crazy laxity.

And you know how traditional wisdom dictates that, in good relationships, partners complement each other? Like if one partner in a lesbian union owns Carhartts, the other partner in that relationship should have a great toolbelt and a black lab?

Holy Indigo Girls, but I scored just that complementarianship in Groom. Remarkably, despite being an American adult, he has remained, well, pure. Don’t get me wrong: he’s fun in all the important ways. He’ll drink beer with me and cackle when I call our attitudinal daughter a “roiling bag of butthead.” But, overall, he meets the world with a level, steady gaze. In the time that it takes me each morning to hum a few songs from the SHOWBOAT soundtrack and dither about what earrings to wear, his Groomishness has shown up, put in some good thinking, and done the job beautifully–whatever that job may be, from making baguettes to staining windows to biking to the grocery store for a 20-lb bag of rice. In fact, the only negative thing I can say about his performance in a multitude of daily activities is that his ears don’t glitter very much, nor can he warble a single show tune.

Despite that lack, I still gotta love one man ‘til I die.

For, you see, I can’t help lovin’ that man of mine.

Yea, so, as I was noting: Groom is very adept and able and solid and clear and junk. Thus, when he speaks, I pause my yammering and listen up.

One of his greatest pieces of wisdom is something I can agree with, intellectually, yet I just can’t get my heart to follow.

See, he maintains that shoes are one of the evils of the world. We have too many; we don’t need so many; they clunk up our lives; they defy corralling; they are symbolic of all hollow excess. Moreover, they are often expensive and uncomfortable and stinky. In Groom’s ideal world, everyone would whittle his/her shoe stash down to only a pair or two.

The world not being ideal, Groom himself wrangles a handful of pairs of Vasque trail running shoes (justifying at least one with “that pair is old, but I wear them when I mow”), a couple pairs of Crocs (which he has to wear around the house, lest he break a toe, as is his wont), a few pairs of flip-flops, and maybe even something he could wear to a funeral or a job interview. Or to a job interview at a funeral home.

This shoe issue has been highlighted once again these last few months when we’ve dragged and toted around our heaps of crap during the remodel and floor refinishing. Twenty-seven trips later, and the shoes have been moved from the front coat closet out to the porch and then again from the back porch to the front porch and then upstairs and, on Sundays, into the basement.

Feh and patooey.

Imagine, then, how giddy I was that last weekend’s garage sale would help reduce this problem. If we were shedding crap and more crap, a few shoes would have to scootch out of our lives, right?

And they did! Approximately five pairs took a walk. Good riddance, cheap leather; hello, $2.25.

Even better, to help organize the remaining household shoes, I had ordered a cabinet devoted to that one task. After the cabinet arrived on our porch with a thump the other day, Groom sighed a bit, crossed himself, and set to putting the thing together. I was upstairs admiring the way a pair of silver hoops jangled as I enunciated “Fish gotta swim, and birds gotta fly.”

He only grumbled “shita$$” once during the process.

But lookie! Lookie! We have a home for shoes!

What’s more, if we ever get truly resolute and actually pare down our pairs, we can open our own post office and give everyone a mail slot! For now, though, we’re a family of four whose shoes are all nicely stored, which means that I must be a good person and maybe even grown up!

Sure, it’s true that not all the shoes fit in that one cabinet. We also have a little shoe annex in the coat closet. That’s still reasonable.

And, uh, naturally, because we live in a climate of four profound seasons, we also have snow and ski boots stored in the basement.

This is not a problem. It just means we’re warm and active, as all the most clever shoe owners are.

Just ask Imelda.

The other thing we are is environmentally conscious; when people give us hand-me-downs of things like soccer cleats and puddle boots, we’re much too deliberate about our footprint on this earth to say no. It’s all part of reducing and reusing, ja?

That’s why we also have this shelf next to the washing machine. I’m only wheezing neurotically the very smallest amount as I type this.

Strangely, the wheeze is intensifying as I recall–GACK–that we also have another bin of hand-me-down shoes in a basement closet, awaiting our kids’ future growth.

As the presence of enormous plastic bins always indicates, we engage in some serious tree huggery.

Since the air in the basement is so thick, I need to head up to the light, maybe to the haven of the bedroom…

…where, Sweet Snoopy On a Cracker, I’ve just remembered I have a closet full of very special shoes that make my feet feel like life is a party

–even when my eyes are crying at the fact that my perspicacious Groom is right:

Evil abounds, lurking everywhere, just underfoot.

The way I feel right now, I can’t imagine what will ever relieve this doleful, sucking feeling.

But I’m guessing a new pair of Teva flip-flops could be balm to my sole.








21 responses to “I’m Kind of An Old Woman, and While I Don’t Live in a Shoe, I Believe I Could Cobble Together a Modest Colonial Out of Boots and Flip-Flops, Featuring a Sunroom Constructed of Cleats”

  1. kmkat Avatar

    Yes, once we women reach a certain age (and girth) the most fun we can have clothes shopping is for… shoes. Because our feet do not change (much) after childbirth and the years of peanut-butter-and-jelly-sandwiches that necessarily follow, whereas our, ahem, other parts do expand with the years.

    So. What is Groom's excuse?

  2. flutter Avatar

    Teva? on purpose? GAH!

  3. Pam Avatar

    Holey Moley Jocelyn! I am positively bereft in the shoe stakes! I thought Aussie cane toads and rabbits multiplied – they got nothin' on your shoes girl!..but then I'm not a shoe person, a traitor to my sex.

  4. Jazz Avatar

    Ah!!! shoes. Pure delight.

    But yours are ALL SNEAKERS !!!

    You obviously devote way too much time to exercise and not nearly enough to drinking good wine in your new kitchen while wearing nothing but a pair of marabout trimmed mules (as in the shoes, not the animals).

  5. chelle Avatar

    I LOVE THAT SHOE holder thingyabob!!!!!! I used to love shoes. Now behold I own 6 pairs. 2 being the flip flop variety. I miss having tons of shoes. But I like hanging out with the kids more so shoes are optional.

    My husband has 3 pairs … and I FORCED him to buy the third pair.

  6. Green Girl in Wisconsin Avatar
    Green Girl in Wisconsin

    THAT? Is a lot of shoes. I'm quite shocked. And knackered by them all.

  7. Midlife Jobhunter Avatar
    Midlife Jobhunter

    Hey, I'm literarily with you in the beginning. Is that a word? Indigo Girls – great reference. Gotta love the showtune line – Showboat? Man of mine? Porgy and Bess?

    Shoes – okay. Impressed. Your organization is killing me. I have four bins in the garage – used to be seasonal long ago when I organized them and tried to get family to follow suit. Now just a jumble of shoes. Every now and then we spread them on the garage floor and take many on a hike to the Salvation Army.

    Please show us a picture in mid-winter – so I'll know I'm not a completely disorganized you know what.

  8. yinyang Avatar

    I hate shoes. If I had my way, I'd never wear any. But, no, I have to protect my feet from fungus and broken glass and burning hot asphalt and bees in the grass. And then, because I am female, I have to have at least one pair of fancy, hurty shoes for weddings and graduations and stuff. Grr.

  9. secret agent woman Avatar
    secret agent woman

    When I first saw that lovely shoe cabinet. I thought, "No way: ot's already full!" SO I was relieved to see all the other shoe storage spots. And besides, everyone should have shoes that make their feet feel like a party!

  10. Jenn @ Juggling Life Avatar
    Jenn @ Juggling Life

    You lost me when I got to the picture with all the pretty shoes. You were saying?

  11. Logophile Avatar

    I might not make Groom completely happy but my shoe collection is pretty conservative.
    Just don't get me started on

    Oh th joy,
    oh the rapture


  12. Lucy Filet Avatar
    Lucy Filet

    I'm backish. And I'm just like Groom.

    So hopefully you don't hate me too much and aren't still stomping around.

    I'm also all out of funny, but hey, so what? I can babble for hours about nothing…

    But yeah, ugh, shoes are the bane of my existence. If I could go barefoot EVERYWHERE I would. And I'd polish my toenails so that at least my feet looked pretty.

  13. phd in yogurtry Avatar
    phd in yogurtry

    I am in lust with your shoe closet. And I am laughing loudly at your "shoe annex." Make that show anni.

  14. heartinsanfrancisco Avatar

    I have also turned into that dreaded cliche, a woman who loves shoes. I wasn't always like this. I even sneered (silently) at those who were. And then one day it hit me like a truckload of Pumas: I LOVE SHOES. I can't explain it rationally but maybe it's because as my face gets old, directing attention to my feet, which are as far away from said face as they could be and still be on the same body, was my subconscious intention. Or maybe they are just making shoes much cuter than they used to. Yeah, I think that's it. I still prefer to go barefoot whenever possible but I adore having a lot of cool shoes looking adorable in my closet.

  15. cathy Avatar

    Might I point out that women are allowed to have more shoes than men as we have smaller feet and our footwear takes up less space 🙂

    Now hand over the shoe cabinet it ought to be mine, LOL.

    I have just finished filling a rubbish bag with shoes that my family had left scattered throughout the house… grrrr!

  16. Jeni Avatar

    "Sweet Snoopy on a cracker!" I loved that one.
    I was also quite shocked to see there is actually someone else who can compete in the number of pairs of shoe ownership with my older daughter. I'm thinking she might be well in the lead thouhg as she does have one hell of a huge collection! Very few flip-flops though. That category is more in my younger daughter's line of foot apparel. Me -I think I might have six pair I can still wear! So I don't know who the girls inherited this trait from since i seriously doubt their Dad owns more than five pair of shoes at the most.

  17. Jeff Avatar

    Great post! I took a gamble and followed Diesel's link over here (you gotta be careful with that guy) and I'm glad I did. As a family of 6, I know this shoe agglomeration of which you speak. We gave up trying to organize them years ago, and now are left with dozens of orphaned rights and lefts in the hope that someday they will be reunited with their fraternal partners. Eh… could happen.

  18. lime Avatar

    i have to say i have never been a shoe hound so i have far fewer than the average girl. that said, for someone who literally wears her florida styel birkenstocks every day for 9 or 10 months of the year i think the number of shoes i do have is probably indefensible.

    but hand-me downs on cleats and snow boots and such, i am all over that for the kids!

  19. lime Avatar

    oh, and i am seriously drolling over that new shoe cabinet….far more than over any of its contents.

  20. Vic Avatar

    This post was like footwear advent calendar. Or a progressive dinner. I laughed more with every picture!

    Not because I can relate though. Pshaw – I don't have THAT many shoes. That's my story. Don't tell my husband I order three pairs of new boots this fall. Shhh.

  21. Vic Avatar

    I need to start proofreading my comments.

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