I stared at the shoes on the shelf in front of me. "...none of these are Bass Weejuns, Dad!" I exclaimed. "Well, there's plenty of choice here", he said. "Pick one that looks like them - these are penny loafers."
I was feeling so frustrated, so angry, so humiliated. Why did I have to have wider feet than the average gal. Why did I have to shop in an old lady's shoe store - Naturalizer's was not the place I wanted to be!
I apprehensively selected a black pair of "fake" penny loafers. I will be the laughing stock of the school, I imagined. We left the store and my stomach began to ache as I anticipated the thought of having to actually wear the darn things.
Next day comes. I wear my winter boots and shove the new shoes into my knapsack. I get on the bus and sit beside my friend Sandy. I began telling her the story as I am distracted mid-sentence. There across from me is a preppy girl sitting with her legs crossed. On foot- the shiniest, most beautiful pair of new Bass Weejuns. They were burgundy with tassels. I stared at them in awe, as I told my friend the saga of my new fake shoes. She and I both looked down at our feet and up again at each other and smiled. Almost a reassuring smile that said "We're in this together." Neither of us had an authentic pair of Weejuns.
I arrived at my locker- Brebeuf High School. Grade nine. Students distracted and rushing the halls, I pulled on the shoes and threw my boots into my locker. I began walking. If there was any way I could have hid my feet, I would have. They felt like they were 5 feet long. All I could see were my sorry looking shoes. I suddenly felt weak. I quickly walked into my home-room class. Science. We had lab seats - you know, high stools. Great, I now had to sit with them displayed so the whole world could see them! I put my head down until the teacher commenced our lab lesson. The end of the day drew near and I was longing to be back at my locker switching into my boots for the long bus ride home. It had been a very long day. Thank God, that cute Grade 10 guy Sean didn't come to class today. I seek him out always and today I played it real low key.
Sandy and I hopped on the bus and before I knew it, it was time to say good-bye. My stop was next so I stood at the bus door talking to her about our plans for the upcoming dance. There was no way I would wear these shoes to the dance. School was bad enough. I waved good-bye and off I went. I walked home from the bus stop practically dragging my knapsack behind. I still had my lunch from today. There was no way I had any appetite. Maybe I would go on a hunger strike to prove a point to my Dad that this was one of the most devastating experiences in my life. Maybe he would give in and buy me a new pair of shoes.
The next day came. I went through the motions. I never did homework in the ninth grade so it was not abnormal to leave my knapsack untouched in the evenings. Something was different. As I pulled out my lunch from the day before and replaced it with my new lunch, I peered inside. "Wait a minute," I said to myself. I was missing a shoe. This couldn't be! Maybe it fell out onto the floor as I emptied it. I looked around. Panic mixed with excitement. The shoe was gone!! I now had only one terrible shoe. I was going to be late for the bus! I had to think quick. I grabbed for another pair out of the closet and rushed out the door. I would look for the shoe after school. I am sure it will turn up.
Days went by and the shoe was still missing in action. My father glared at me from the corner of his eye in disbelief and did not buy my story- AT ALL. How could I have lost one shoe? I wondered the same thing. I had very mixed emotions. My father knew how much I hated those shoes but I knew they weren't cheap. I felt bad. I felt worried. I felt happy. I felt relieved. Months passed and the shoe was never found. It must have fallen out of my knapsack when I was walking home on that infamous day. Someone was looking out for me. It was a miracle but it left me feeling somewhat torn. My credibility remained in question but I really did loose that shoe- innocently at that.
The price of a miracle, I suppose.