Monday, November 1, 2010

Three pairs of shoes

This is my first economics post. I thought I'd start with a small demon. Eventually I'll sneak up on a bigger one, but today I'm writing about shoes:

The first pair of shoes I remember were little red Mary Janes. My dad brought them back when he went on a trip to do some Union business. I remember that he showed me the "Union Made" label inside. The same label was in my underwear and some very itchy sweaters. My dad thought it was important. That's what I remember.

I'm pretty sure that my dad didn't read anything deeply symbolic into red shoes. Maybe I'm not giving him enough credit. He was politically sincere and ineffective. That proved out.

I understand that there are shoes that function primarily as performance art. I admire them as I admire performance art in general. But I'm not a performance artist.

I have no idea how these Armadillo shoes operate inside, but I imagine they are like armor-plated toe shoes. Depending on how well they fit the individual, they might actually be rather comfortable, as long as a person is familiar with moving about en pointe.

According to my daughter, I have a Celtic foot. It is blunt as a square shovel. Others, I'm told, have a French foot. It is more suited to the pointed toe boxes often seen as companions to stilletto heels.

I have never been able to wear shoes like this. I look at my foot and look at the shoes and it is clearly not possible. Unless those shoes are like the TARDIS, it would never work. People who do wear them seem to get from place to place. I remain astonished by European women and their ability to move rapidly on cobblestones wearing such shoes. Honestly, I admire all women who are such masters of these shoes they can actually run in them. I'm not very good at running, period. I'm a good pedestrian, though. I can walk for miles.

Right now, I have one pair of shoes: a pair of boots. I had some summer shoes, sandals, but the dog ate them. I wore them for a month or so without the strap around my ankle--that was what the dog ate--but they didn't stay on. I don't like to think about shoes when I'm wearing them. I prefer they should just stay on my feet and I should be able to forget them.

Most shoes, I find, aren't that easy to forget.

What has any of this to do with economics? Well, leaving aside labor activism, the art market, and fashion as a driver of obsolescence there is this: I indexed a book,  The North Star State, which included an essay "Walk a Century in My Shoes: Minnesota 1900-2000" by Annette Atkins. She reads shoes like history books, and, in this essay, she looked at the life of Sarah Christie Evans. Sarah had three pairs of shoes, all locally manufactured and each suited to an aspect of Sarah's life. I aspire to that: Three useful pairs of shoes. No more, no less. Three pairs of shoes that make it easy to walk in the places I like to go and do the work I'd like to do. So far, I haven't attained that status. I wish to attain the economic state of owning three pairs of useful, comfortable shoes. 

Post a Comment