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If The Shoe Fits
Words by Danielle Butler
Image by Christine Stoddard
The foot traffic in the department store is crowded and zippy. Different feet and all types of shoes, oh the shoes, sleek, professional, bold, fancy, comfy and cool zooming as people browse and shuffle up and down the aisles. Some of the shoes hover slowly like a judge inspecting the final product. There are business men in shiny shoes, ladies with red bottom heels, dudes in Converse, and classic flats on youthful toes. Shoe boxes litter the aisles and ankle mirrors gleam in the florescent light, but more exciting than the shoes are the people who wear them.
In particular, Sammy.
My feet lay on the floor like dead weight under my body. Ironically, as a young shoe salesman in the shoe department, I hated nothing more than when the customer couldn’t bother to pick up their own feet. Yet here I was, stupefied, adopting the same philosophy. The heaviness of today’s let down radiates through me, down to my shoes making the ground seem almost malleable beneath me. Fifteen minute “lunch” break but it didn’t matter. I didn’t have a lunch today, and my chance with Katie walked out with the pair of shoes I foolishly sold without selling the real agenda. It was all I could do to give myself a time-out and let the world bustle on around me.
My name is Sammy, like Sammy Sosa, except I don’t play pro sports, or hit things out of the park; I sell shoes. Sure, tomorrow I’ll get over it and liven my step like the rest of the world. I’ll be whistling and fitting customers with the perfect new kicks like the cute high school salesman my mom boasts on and on about, but right now I blew it and I knew it. The thought of having no one to take to the dance is crushing; to think I actually could’ve dominated the dance floor. Not to brag even in my own head, but I knew that I knew some pretty choice dance moves; I learned a thing or two about waltz and break dance, to save face should I completely mess up one or the other dances.
My associate, Kevin, gives me a friendly slap on the back. Seeing as he is in a particularly good mood deepens my distress. Maybe he noticed I had become a heap from my mortified self-judgment. The knowing twinkle in his smiley eyes and the piercing dimples in the grin indicated that he had. Kevin was not only the coolest 60-something-year-old I’ve ever known but a minority with major skillfulness creds for his salesmanship, wisdom, and dancing ability. He knows everything from the waltz, traditional jazz, rumba, tango, salsa, samba, and cha-cha to the modern street / hip hop dance moves his grandson taught him. Plus being the charismatic guy he is, he always sold the most shoes out of everyone.
Kevin: “Was she a friend of yours?”
Me: “Kind of…we have a class together at school.”
Kevin: “Looked like she asked about a lot of different shoes but only seemed interested in the pair she found before she saw you. Seemed she liked talking with you.”
Me: “She was with her friends. I think she was looking for shoes for the dance. She’s probably already going with someone. I wanted to ask her--I was about to--I mean--I don’t know, but Katie is one of the popular girls in school, she must have a date already.”
Kevin: “Maybe she does, but wouldn’t you rather get a no than shut down the possibility before you know for sure. What if she says yes?”
Me: “It’s Katie Monahan. She’s probably going with someone on the basketball team, Kevin. I should get back to work.”
Slowly, we both rise, and Kevin shifts to his happy demeanor as he greets a customer. I turn my head to see him and notice he’s appealing to both the mother’s desire for her own shoes in addition to shoes for her kids. That Kevin is a really go-getter! All at once, I feel myself darting for the free heal insoles and yelling to my co-workers that I’d be right back, and I fly out the department store to catch up with Katie. “Twenty seconds of courage is all you need.” I hear Kevin in my mind from everything he’s taught me over the past year. Including how to waltz as we cleaned the store with broomsticks after closing. A wind tunnel of noise rushes through my ears as I rush past busy mall shoppers. Finally, I notice Katie’s group of friends and slow my roll. I smile and I catch my breath enough to shout her name. Startled, she looks up from the food court coffee shop.
Katie: “Hey Sammy, what’s up?”
Me: “Katie! I…I…just wanted to give you these insoles…they’re free and you know they can really help you with your shoes.”
Me: “Sure. No problem. Okay, well…I guess I’ll see you in 3rd period…”
Katie: “Okay, see you in 3rd period.” (Smile.)
Me: “Actually, are you going to the dance with anyone? I thought I would ask you because I was going to go. I have the suit and everything, I just got busy at work , you know shoes.”
Katie: “Actually, I already have a date. Bradley asked me (Me: “Oh…”) but there’s room in our group if you want to come and you could probably dance with Meghan.”
Me: “Yeah? Okay. Yeah, that’s cool.”
Katie and Meghan: “Cool.”
Katie: “We’ll message you in the group on Facebook.”
Me: “Great. Well, I’ll grab another shoe in sole for you. Meghan and Michelle for you too.”
Meghan and Michelle giggle: “Okay.”
Me: “Okay. I should get back. Bye!”
Katie, Meghan and Michelle: “Bye!”
Feeling victorious and as close to a classic 80s heart-throb as I’ll ever be, I run back to the store and, when I see Kevin, I raise my fist in the air with triumph.
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