Sunday, August 26, 2007

THIS & THAT: A new shoe test drive

Today, thousands of little feet can be seen and heard dashing across the land, as it’s back to school time. For the fortunate (since a sturdy pair of kids shoes these days averages $50) that means a new pair of foot coverings. ’Tis the season, according to my inside sources, to say: “Good bye flip-flops, hello closed-toe” shoes.
Shopping for shoes for children, as I recently learned, is quite a different experience than grown-up shopping: just hang-out in the 3rd floor children’s shoe department of Nordstrom. That’s what I did a couple of Saturday mornings ago. I accompanied Nicolas, 6, who will be a first grader at Montecito Union School, his sister Isabel, a pre-schooler age 4, and their (very tired), shopping savvy mom, Lisa, on this expedition.

My, my what a selection was in store: for the lads, there were shoes with lights (why don’t they make light-up running shoes in my size, I want to know?), Nikes with the famous swoosh and heels that looked like springs for the boys and a brand called DC (not the comic book company I would learn, but a skateboard company that makes skateboard shoes). In the little girls section, there were shoes with buttons and bows and animal prints: pint-size versions of the latest fashion statements, at equally appalling prices.
Nicolas selected no less than seven designs that he wanted to try on, while Isabel honed her choices down to just three or four styles, mostly pink. Then the fun began. While Isabel climbed over the seats like a monkey, Nicolas dawdled over picking the perfect new pair for the school year.
Behind us, I watched a sweet, five-year-old customer named Jaia, with the face and demeanor of a gentle, shy poet, transform into Superman after trying on a pair of light up Geox sneakers. Jaia was soon nowhere to be found: he streaked through the other departments as if his feet were on fire! Needless to say, his dad purchased these life-altering shoes, which included incentive items of a coloring book and a green balloon.
Soon after, Nicolas followed suit and disappeared through the aisles, racing faster than a speeding comet.
Monkey see, monkey do: Isabel joined in!
Who knew department store shopping (I’d actually rather get my teeth cleaned) could be so much fun?
What excitement! One wobbly little guy, apparently a new walker in his first pair of shoes (who I estimated to be about a year or so old), took a tumble when he was accidentally knocked over by a shopping mother. Was no one safe?
Then Nicolas returned and began jumping up and down to “test drive” the Nikes.
He fell to the ground with a crash. He did a somersault. Then, with a mixture of glee and seriousness, he made his decision:
“Yes,” he said, at last, “I want THESE!”
Later, I was wonder wondering what the sales staff would do if I climbed over chairs, did a 50 yard dash in a $600 dollar pair of Manolo Blahnik heels or several somersaults in a pair of UGG boots —just to see how they “worked”?
Guess they’d peg me crazy. However, I think any woman, whether she walks, runs or charges an amount that would support a small African village to her credit card to wobble on 5” heels is mad anyway. But then, what do I know? I’m sticking to my flip-flops, as long as the weather holds out.

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