MAKING A CASE 
FOR GOING BAREFOOT

   Reason Number 4327 as to why I could never be a woman is shoes.
   I'm going to generalize here, and I fully realize there are millions and millions of exceptions, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say women like shoes and men don't.
   I, in particular, hate shoes. I want to be like Hugh Hefner, and spend my days wearing slippers. And if forced to wear shoes, let me become one of those tech billionaires, and come to work every day wearing sneakers.
   That would be nice. I could open my closet every morning and slip on my lightweight Nike walking shoes, and go to work without a care in the world as to what anyone thinks. I'd be comfortable, and that's all that would matter.
   Unfortunately, I'm not a tech billionaire. So as I write these words, I'm looking down at my brand spanking new casual dress shoes, and my feet hurt.
   I'm not in extreme pain, like some women I know who buy shoes that I would wear for about 14 steps before screaming for a wheelchair. My pain is not only physical, but it's also emotional in nature, because I had once again bought shoes, worn them a few times, and realized I would never wear them again.
   The ordeal began a couple of weeks ago. My old casual dress shoes, which I had grown to love over the last few years, were finally flopping where they weren't supposed to flop, and they couldn't be saved. It was time to move on, to find a replacement. So off I went to Nordstrom, which got their start selling shoes.
   "$395 for a casual dress shoe?" I asked the nice shoe salesman when I picked one up that felt relatively comfortable. "You're just giving it away."
   "It's the highest quality," he replied, snootily. And then, realizing he was dealing with a customer who bought his last shoes at Payless Shoe Source, led me to a less expensive display of casual dress shoes.
   Suddenly, $195 felt like a bargain. I guess that's called marketing. Impressed with the price point, I began feeling each shoe until I found one that I thought I could tolerate. I asked the salesman if I could try it on in a size 12, but pointed out that I was always a 10 1/2 before my foot flattened out and I started shrinking. He didn't seem to care all that much.
   As is always the case, he came back and explained that he didn't have a 12, but he had an 11 1/2. And as always, I said I'd give it a try. I put them on, and the right foot felt great, but the left foot was slightly snug. I walked around the store on the nice soft carpet and stopped to look in the floor mirror. I hated what I saw, and knew the left foot was not quite right.
   "I'll take them," I announced to the stunned salesman as I handed him my disgusting old shoes. "And I don't need the box. I'll just wear them."
   He said something about giving my old shoes to the homeless, but I doubt they ever saw the light from the garbage bin. They were that bad.
   I paid the exorbitant sum and stepped out in the street of no return with my spanking new casual dress shoes, optimistically hoping the tightness in the left foot would loosen up over time.
   And of course it hasn't. I hate these shoes, just like the others I have impulsively bought over the years. They will end up on the shelf, along with the others. My closet looks like I have some fashion sense, except I never wear any of the shoes on the shelves. Eventually, I'll just give them away.
   I don't understand how some women do it, and never will. I watch them motor down the street in their high heels, or in their platforms, the straps digging into their flesh, and marvel at their tolerance for pain.
   As for me, I'll continue my search for the perfect casual dress shoe. I've found it a few times in my career, but unfortunately I couldn't make the perfect pair of shoes last more than about 10 years.
   In the meantime, since I optimistically threw out my dilapidated pair during my ill-fated trip to Nordstrom, I'm now forced, starting tomorrow, to look like a tech billionaire. I guess things could be worse.
 

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