Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Daddy Cool

I read yesterday in a less than mediocre autobiography: " sometimes life is stranger than fiction".

The trite cliché has, I suppose, its true moments. My wife, our little girl and I went shopping into a nearby city. Our son needed to catch a train with his granddad to go and see a big ship. Because he is typically uncooperative when we are running late, getting ready and out the house was hurried and stressful.

In my haste I had put on an odd pair of shoes.
Not just similar shoes, no, I put on a shoe from two radically different pairs: my right shoe was a light tan, very long and pointy shoe; the kind that makes ladies stare at your feet and then smile at you. My left shoe was a short, dark brown, textured classic shoe, decorated by layers of leather with serrated edges and intricately patterned perforations. The kind that makes ladies stare at your feet and then give you a look typically reserved for tax-collectors. Both were slip-ons, hence my mistake.

Thinking on my feet, my strategy was to carry my unspeakably gorgeous and loquacious daughter on my shoulders. People would look UP at her and not down at my feet. The strategy worked. No one noticed my unorthodox footwear.

I relaxed a bit too much and later made a cardinal mistake. We entered a department store and took the escalator to the first floor, where I was instructed by my wife to wait for her while she tried on some clothes. I stood motionless near some mannequins right by the escalator. A silly place to stand; people coming up would be staring straight at my feet; I didn't think of that. Fortunately my left shoe was being occulted by my much larger right shoe, but if you took a second look you'd notice.

To my horror a man with his daughter came up to me. I could not believe my ears when he said:
"I noticed your shoes and I like them very much.
I thought you were a mannequin but then you moved".

Picture my face paralysed into a panicking smile, unsure whether he was mocking me or whether he was being genuine. Something about his voice and behaviour told me he liked my shoe (yes singular) but was then surprised to see me move and came to tell me of his surprise instead. Not once while he was complimenting me on my stylish footwear did he look down at my feet (which at this stage I felt disappearing back into my ankles, my toes literally curling inside my shoes).

His daughter on the other hand, while her dad was complimenting me, kept looking alternately at my feet then at her dad then back at my feet then at her dad again, was quite confused by the contrast between her father's statement and the reality of what she was looking at.

I just laughed nervously and must have looked like one of those people for whom any form of social contact with strangers elicits a cold clammy sweat and palpitations. Eventually the man, apologising for the intrusion, walked off.

What are the chances, I ask you, of having worn an odd pair of shoes, someone complimenting you on them and not noticing that they were from different pairs?

"sometimes life is stranger than fiction".

I wonder if the girl told him afterwards and how the man felt. He probably felt as mortified as I did, and this being Britain I wager that he felt even worse.

I, on the other hand, needed to get home. Fast!

1 comment:

  1. Perhaps I'm the only woman who'd smile at the brogues and stiffen at the long things.
    Am I also the only one who wonders why you didn't hit the shoe department while you were waiting?