I bought a new pair of shoes at Marshalls this week. Wednesday, when I got home from work I noticed a smudge on the toe of one of my dress shoes. I had just polished these shoes prior to the start of the school year, but maybe I scuffed something without realizing it. I pulled out the Kiwi Parade Gloss Black and touched it up, then tried to buff it with my lint brush (I know, it’s not for shoes) The stubborn spot wouldn’t shine.
Down in the basement I keep the industrial polisher. Driven by a powerful electric engine, the two outer buffing pads turn at 250 revolutions per minute. If you replaced the buffers with wheels and you hitched the device to a wagon you could race around the neighborhood at 40 mph. Once I was nearly thrown into the wall when the shoe I was buffing got caught by a lace on the buffer. No scuff can refuse to yield to the buffer.
I fired it up, the wall vibrated. I held on to the shoe with both hands while I let the buffer bear down on the scuff mark. Satisfied with the treatment, I held up the shoe to admire my work. I couldn’t believe my eyes. The entire front of the shoe had turned into a Hush Puppy. Instead of a high gloss I now had a shoe made of soft felt, the complete opposite of a gloss, something that could never be shined. I looked down. Wrapped around the buffer was the gloss of the shoe. I had bought the shoes at Payless (that explains a lot), but looking at my soft felt shoe I thought I might suggest to the owner that the store would be more appropriately be named as Worthless. The small patch I was working on was really a rip in the micro thin gloss coating. The turbo charged buffer picked up the edge of the coating and peeled it off like the skin of an apple. The shoes were not leather after all. They were felt with a shiny black plastic wrapper on top.
Shaking my head in disgust I was interrupted by the realization that I had nothing but felt to wear with my suit the next morning. It was just about 8pm and I raced off to Marshalls hoping it wasn’t closed. It was open (phew!) and plenty of nice choices called to me from their position of prominence on the top shelf. My excitement diminished as quickly as it had risen. Upon close inspection I was able to tell that most of the choices were for elves, long and pointed, turned up slightly at the toe, just missing the bell at the tip. The rest of the shoes were court jester footwear. They were not pointed, but they were nearly a foot longer than anyone’s toes could ever be, and completely flat, squared off and floppy at the end. It wouldn’t look right to wear shoes that were longer than I was tall.
I tried to like what they had. I don’t admit defeat easily. I wasn’t going to turn around and just walk slump-shouldered out of the store. I made myself try on a few pair. It was a completely laughable sight. They would have been perfect if my consultation assignments involved entertaining the King. I had no time to be funny (and I’m glad you guys weren’t there because I would have been wasting precious time trying to get you to stop laughing and cracking jokes).
I was just about to give up, but in my desperation I trolled the women’s section (to see if maybe some men’s shoes had spilled over— remember, I said “in desperation”). Finally, my last ditch effort brought me to the close out shelf, a place reserved for the random mismatched losers in sizes that only fit the oddest of creatures. There in the middle of the shelf, gleaming at me as if they had some undiscovered magical powers, was a solitary pair of black dress shoes that I recognized instantly as “Flourshiems,” the highest quality men’s dress shoes you can buy (and usually not at Marshalls). As I approached I avoided looking at the size. I was willing to take a size 10 or 9.5 or 9 (my actual size). I would find a way to make any of those sizes work, but I wanted my mind to continue thinking about my good fortune so I didn’t look at the size until there was nothing else to look at. They appeared to have no defects or irregularities, the bottom told me that no one had worn and then returned them, and then, . . . YES size 9, now that’s what I’m talking about!
I made my way quickly to the cashier before the gold turned to dust. I asked the cashier to look them over for defects and explain to me why such a fine pair of shoes had not been sold all summer long. She was very reassuring, although she had no real knowledge or authority that anyone should find reassuring. Nevertheless I marched out of the store with the luckiest of finds, an equal match for the turbo buffer.
The shoes are great. I wore them proudly the next day. I wasn’t able to try on the left shoe in the store because the security lock made it impossible. My right foot has an implant joint, and now a normal size knuckle on the big toe. My left foot needs the same thing, so right now the big toe knuckle is bigger than normal. That was the shoe I couldn’t try on. When I walk, the bend of the shoe crushes the painful inflamed joint of the left big toe. These are no cheap felt shoes that will just lose their shape and bend around an obstruction like my last pair did. Most of my day I am sitting, and when I do have to walk I can get in 6 or 7 steps before the pain causes me to limp. I should be up to 20-30 steps by the end of the quarter, and that covers most of my short trips around the school building.