Look, I’m no fashionista. I don’t sit on my couch tabbing the pages of a Vogue magazine, collecting outfit ideas. I wish I did, honestly, I wish I knew how to drape a scarf or what a pencil skirt is for. But I don’t think I’ve ever even read a Vogue.
And I’m not judging, really, I’m not trying to be snarky. I’m not one to point at your outfit and scoff, or compare it disdainfully to my own, especially when GAP clothes still make me feel fabulous. But every once in a while I stumble across shoes like these, shoes that call for an explanation, shoes that make me do a double take not out of mockery but out of lastima.
The Macy’s in our neighborhood is on its last leg, barely holding on for dear life for years now. Being a concerned citizen, being community-minded, I go in to give a little looky-loo, thinking I’m stepping up my game. (Note: there is a Target next door where I regularly shop for my clothes so this feels like a big, grownup, New-York-Fashion-Week kind of move.) I remember the days when Macy’s was the fancy place you visited to buy your mom a legit wallet or a rhinestone keychain, so I’m not prepared to enter the Saddest Department Store In The World.
What hurts more, being a Has Been or never being An It at all? Oh Macy’s, you slay me. Your hay day is over, your glory days are gone. Your salesladies no longer have faith; they barely have the courage to wave hello. The smell of flowery desperation isn’t in my imagination, it’s the barren perfume aisle, touting fragrances that must be fake because who’s ever heard of Ambivalence For Men. And that’s not even musac I hear - it’s musac of musac, or musac squared, three times removed from real music and three times as pathetic. Pity starts to rise up in me and I want to run, I want to turn around and blast through your awful mall doors. But not yet. I can’t leave so soon. I won’t kick a saleslady when she’s down. I force myself to sift through the racks and consider sequined tops, and then ask questions about a neon green set of pots.
After a good fifteen, I feel like it’s okay to go. Slipping out won’t offend anybody because I’ve put in my time, feigned enough interest. I give one last “I’m here for you” smile and really believe I’ve made it, that I’ve gotten off with just a little bit of despair - enough to poke some holes in my heart but not sink. A good chai latte will help shake it off. But I should have known better.
They assault me on the way out, these shoes. By the door, alone on a shelf as if the surrounding boots couldn’t bare to share their display case. Purple kisses punch me from the left, red kisses slap me from the right. Thin, sole-less, flat slabs of sorrow. Who will buy you, even on sale? Who will wear you? Who will love you and frolic in your light and point down with a triumphant, “Aren’t these all the rage?” Or worse, WHO WILL?
You know who? Me. Me, you heinous pair of wobbly fabric. I will take you on. I will dance in your Macy’sness and I will wear you with lastima and with pride. Because the truth is, in my closet, you’re an improvement.
p.s. Forgive me, INC brand. I am not making fun of you. I am making fun with you.