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The sound of one shoe flapping

Jon deVos " Friday Report

This is not an original thought but one worth mentioning frequently: There are fundamental differences between men and women that go far beyond plumbing.

Women gather while men hunt, may have been true when the first woman slipped into a leopard skin but today it just isn’t that way. The role of women has changed so much throughout history that it’s hard to deny the growing body of science that argues for alien influence. Nowhere are the differences more evident than the shopping mall where you’ll find women hunters so ruthless as to make Daniel Boone flinch. Take my wife, for instance.

Normally, when my wife goes shopping at the mall, I’m content to be chained up to the parking meter with a bowl of water and a small bag of trail mix. I wait patiently for her return.

Recognizing that most men are unable to shop for shoes sober, canny retailers are putting liquor bars into shoe stores. When a shoe clerk comes up and offers to help, shopping seems easier when you can reply, “Yes, a Grey Goose martini, my good man, and, uh, why don’t you bring me a little something brown for the feet.”

Women are different. They’ll leave a trail of burned-out, smoldering shoe salesmen in their wake, searching for the ultimate shoe. The perfect pair of shoes, like the truth, is out there somewhere.

Here’s what I don’t get: Women will shop for shoes to match the imagined color of a not-yet-purchased ensemble, to wear at some function they haven’t decided whether to attend. That’s way too complex for the normal guy to follow, hence, the magnificent pairing of liquor and wingtips. Simplify, simplify.

Women enjoy buying shoes. Men need to be anesthetized to give up their favorite pair. Men will completely ignore a hole in the sole or a toe sticking out the side. Take my wife, please.

On a recent trip my wife bought a pair of shoes that was so delicious, the hound couldn’t contain herself and ate the right one of the pair. I reordered another pair for another eighty bucks. The hound ate the right one again a couple of days later. The third pair arrived in about a week. My wife wore them one time and announced they were, “uncomfortable.”

Two hundred and forty bucks to find out they’re “uncomfortable?” Why couldn’t she have determined they were “uncomfortable” way back when Nordstrom’s still owned the first pair?

She’ll narrow it down to two pairs, each located in stores at opposite ends of the mall. This is the point where I begin howling to go home. But for her, that’s when the hunt begins in earnest. I beg her tearfully, “I’m tired. Can I sit in the bar and enjoy a delicious root beer while you decide which pair you want?”

She says, “Of course you can’t go to the bar, ya’ big galoot. How will I know which pair you like best?”

I start howling in earnest, “Oh Baby, Baby, Baby, I love you, please, please, buy both pairs so we can go home.”

SHE SAYS, “But, I only need one pair right now. I don’t think I’ll need another for three or four days.”

SHE MEANS, “Oh, I’m going to get both pair, all right, but I’m going to drag you around this mall like a pull-toy, until you force me at gunpoint to buy both of them, so I don’t feel guilty about being extravagant.”

It started when I was a kid. I remember how unutterably cool I felt to walk through the kitchen with the sole of one shoe almost torn off the upper. I was so proud of the unique, personal noise I had created. “Mom! Mom, look at the noise I made,” I cried, dragging my foot across the linoleum, shhhup-flapp, shhhup-flapp, shhhup-flapp, with each step.

My mom stared at the source of my delight, looked at me with her eyes bugged and shrieked, “LOOK WHAT YOU’VE DONE TO YOUR SHOE!”

“Yeah,” I bragged. The moment that followed impressed upon me forever the different values men and women place upon footwear.

My wife thinks shoe shopping is a woman’s inalienable right. See, there’s that alien thing again.


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