I Want to Hear Your Shoe Stories

Santafe.com - November 4, 2011

"Everybody has a shoe story and I'd like to read yours..."

Everybody has a shoe story and I'd like to read yours. I'll put my favorite three entries (or more) on this site, so feel free to submit your stories. I'm a struggling but happy writer, so I can't offer prize money, but we can share and enjoy each other's shoe stories. They can be funny, sad, sacred or profane. True or fictional is fine . . .

Please send them to chocolateshoesjgo@gmail.com.

Here is an installment of my book, "Shoe Milagros," which I hope will soon be followed by your stories. I am jumping forward to Chapter 7 for obvious reasons, since this is the "fictional" shoe story competition part of the book:

Chapter Seven
Shoe Milagros
Jo Ann Garcia Orellana

Primitiva sat in her office with her perfect hair, and her perfect skin, and her perfect nails, and started to cry.  Her life was a perfect mess.  Her only claim to romance was a nine-year relationship with a man who loved himself much more than he ever loved another human being.  Enthralled with his own reflection, he discounted Primitiva’s grace and beauty.  He did notice her money however, but secretly thought she was a long shot.  Michael calculated that it would take too long for Primitiva to inherit Dorothy’s fortune, and he wanted wealth and power yesterday, not 10 years from now.  Perhaps that’s a slight exaggeration, but it’s safe to say that the man was self-absorbed—a virtual poster child for narcissism and greed.  In the end he ran off with a mindless 25-year-old, the new receptionist at the newspaper where he worked, but not before taking one of Tiva’s credit cards and buying himself three new Armani suits with matching shirts and silk ties.  At least he didn’t insult her further by buying expensive shoes to go with.

He made as much in a week as Primitiva spent on one pair of shoes, since she lived on a generous allowance, but she was not prone to “classism,” ageism, racism or any “isms” at all.  She loved him unconditionally even though she received little in return.  Tiva thought of Michael as her soul mate—a brilliant struggling writer she was supporting until he could make it on his own. 

His sandy blond hair and blue eyes contrasted sharply with Primitiva’s coloring and his rugged good looks contrasted with her refinement.  Everyone who knew them said they made a handsome couple, except for Dorothy, who kept reminding Primitiva that “Handsome is as handsome does.”

Michael had stolen much of her youth, since their relationship spanned nearly a decade, but even worse than that, he was responsible for Tiva’s infertility.  She contracted an infection (pelvic inflammatory disease) from a sexually transmitted disease Michael brought to their relationship.  An  IUD Primitiva had implanted to postpone pregnancy, aggravated the situation.  The infection was left undetected long enough to cause permanent damage to Tiva’s reproductive organs.  Her fallopian tubes were fused with irreversible scar tissue.  

Her childless state was a deep well of sorrow for Tiva.  As absent as her mother had been in her life, Primitiva would have been twice as present for her sons and daughters.  Sometimes children become vigilant studies in the opposite ways of their parents, enough to break family legacy patterns, but short of adoption, Primitiva would have no child to share her warm and loving heart with. 

In one fell swoop, Michael took away all of her dreams for the future, and all the money in the world couldn’t change that.  Like most victims, she blamed herself for the whole fiasco.  She swore to never give her heart away again, especially since her judgement was so poor when it came to men.

You could say that history was repeating itself since Dorothy deeply loved a scoundrel and no one else in her lifetime. Her first marriage, to Harry, was driven by a need for shelter and not by love or desire.  Harry was just a “good catch,” the biggest fish in the proverbial pond.

It was a mistake from the beginning.  Dorothy found herself ignoring Harry’s long-winded stories with a vacant smile on her face.  A strange pair, Dorothy had her own thoughts to follow and Harry never asked her about them.  He was with her for her beauty anyway and she was with him for the future he could provide.  The fact that his father owned a shoe factory, and he was the sole heir, made him a prize, even if he was a boring man with an insatiable thirst for whiskey and women—a thirst that would get worse over time.  “I just wanted fans.” he would say in the end, and Dorothy had stopped being a fan shortly after they married.

At least Tiva was financially independant.  For a fleeting moment of clarity, Primitiva wanted to start over.  Now that she had inherited most of her mother’s fortune she could travel.  Damn the museum.  She would leave Sena and Leo in charge.  The place could just about run itself.  It was blasphemy when she cursed footwear, but she was on a roll; “Who cares about a bunch of old shoes anyway?  What do I care if some Royal waltzed around in some foppish low heeled shoe, even if he was “The Sun King?”  God help me, but where are the real stories filled with pathos, love and self-destruction?  Let’s face it, this museum is for elitist snobs and it doesn’t address the human condition.”

Her last statement really wasn’t true, but she was absorbed in a mental tantrum.  Like the Bata Shoe Museum in Canada, her museum served as a guide to human history.  She picked up a brochure from the “BATA” and read an insightful quotation by Sonja Bata: “Shoes are such personal artifacts.  They tell you about the owner’s social status, habits, culture and religion.  That’s what makes them special.” 

Primitiva found her center again.  She usually only lost her cool when she obsessed about Michael. Calmer now, she poured over the material she had received from the Canadian Shoe Museum.  The “BATA” has over ten thousand shoes or shoe related articles in its collection. They even have their own newsletter.  She would have to become a subscriber.  She was reading an article on “Winter in Japan,” when an idea suddenly formed in her mind.  At first she tried to concentrate on fascinating foot coverings called “fumidawaras.”  They looked like bamboo chimneys surrounding the wearer’s feet and shins and were used to clear a path in the snow if the drifts got too high—but the idea that was forming in Primitiva’s mind just kept getting louder and louder.

“If the shoes of the royals and the rich and famous have no meaning for me, then maybe I need to make the museum more accessible to the community.  I’m sure there are a lot of people with heirlooms in their attics—shoes their grandmother got married in, or hand made boots from Mexico, perhaps from the turn of the century, worn on the Old Santa Fe Trail—shoes with a story connected to them.  I’ll run this idea past Sena, and if she doesn’t think I’m crazy, I’ll put an ad in the paper tomorrow.”

Satisfied, Primitiva powdered her perfect nose, a gift for her twenty-first birthday.  Her mother had a well-known Beverly Hill’s surgeon lope off the slightly turned down “Spanish Hook” from its tip.  She refused an offer for larger breasts when she turned thirty, and was glad she did, considering all the health problems connected to implants today.

Even Sena knew better than to bother Primitiva when the “DO NOT DISTURB SIGN” was on her door and she gave the order to hold all calls.  She  was relieved to finally see Primitiva by the water cooler.  She could tell she had been crying, but thought it was over the death of her mother.  “I want to talk to you about something Sena.  Do you have a minute?” 
“Sure, what’s up.  I was beginning to worry about you?” 
“Follow me to my office.  There’s something I want to show you.”

“How does she do it?” thought Sena walking behind her.  “She even has a way of walking that says “Don’t talk to me—I don’t mingle with groundlings, strangers, or people with less power and money than I have.”  Granted, it was just a defense mechanism, and Primitiva had a heart as big as the world, but she could project the most frigid and condescending vibrations at will or sometimes out of habit. 

They entered Primitiva’s soft pink office.  Each wall was painted a different shade of clay.  The painters had added a hint of rose bisque to one of the walls making it look like face powder.  The other walls got progressively darker until the fourth wall was roughly the color of adobe.  The transition was magically subtle.  She had the only colorful office in the museum.  Two strategically placed vases always contained fresh flowers.  Sena had balked at the fresh flower bills, but Primitiva loved them and it was her money to burn anyway.  Today they were filled with Calla Lilies.  “Look at this Weena and tell me honestly if you think I’ve lost my mind?” 


Bring us your family heirlooms, contemporary shoes,
photographs, or your favorite shoe stories.
Deadline for entries: September 27
Award Ceremony: October 27
For more information call the Hesse Museum, Santa Fe, NM

Primitiva stood there waited quietly, biting her lip.  She really wanted Sena to like her idea but she also relied on her friend’s honesty.  “You’ve either really lost it or you’re a genius Primitiva . . . I think I like this.”  
“Honestly—you’re not just saying that?” 
“Honestly Tiva, you may just end up with a pile of “My First Pair of High Heels” stories, or “These belonged to my great grandmother in 1901. . . ” over and over again, or you may come across some real gems.” 
“I’m hoping for gems.”