“Don’t kill my shoes! Please don’t kill my shoes!”
Those were the words I shouted at the salesman in the shoe shop who had just informed me that my shoes…
the ones which I had been wearing,
which had been on my feet when I walked into the store,
and which I’d only taken off momentarily to try on a new pair,
a pair which I had yet to decide to buy,
…had been taken away to be incinerated.
I was shouting because I was in distress,
my feet were in distress,
because they couldn’t find their home,
they’d only left their home for a few seconds,
distracted by a possible new home,
but just because they were distracted by a possible new home did not mean that they did not appreciate the home which they had.
Yet someone else had made a presumption,
a presumptuous presumption,
and ordered the killing of my shoes.
The culprit was not this salesman,
this salesman had only been following orders,
orders which had come from his manager,
orders which his manager had given for reasons with which he was about to be confronted.
But first I had to save my shoes,
I was not allowed to do this myself,
for safety reasons,
for reasons of a sign which claimed no customers were allowed beyond this point.
I was not an official customer since I had not bought anything yet,
I was a potential customer,
and if the manager had his way,
then I would be obliged to live up to that potential,
as surely if I no longer had shoes I would be forced to buy a new pair.
He really didn’t know me.
When I had first walked into this shop, the manger had sized me up, he had judged me based on the shoes which I was wearing which were tatty and old. He saw in me, in my feet, in my shoes, a sure sale. Obviously I was in a desperate state and people who are in a desperate state are desperate enough to part with money to buy themselves out of their desperate state.
Desperation is a pheromone which attracts predators.
He zeroed in on me like a spider to a fly caught in its web, the vibrations of my struggle thrilled his avarice.
He peppered my ears with an aggressive spiel designed to knock my shoes off,
sweep me off my feet and into a brand new pair of shoes.
he made one very crucial mistake.
He really didn’t know me.
He criticised my shoes,
he tore them apart with his tongue,
and my feet were burned by the acid in his saliva.
I grabbed his tongue and cut it off.
“Do not try to convince me to buy new shoes, you can’t convince me to buy new shoes!”
His tongue wriggled in my fingers.
“I am very stubborn and nothing you can say or do will sway me to buy new shoes unless I choose to do so,
so please back off and leave me to browse, I will let you know when my browsing turns into buying.”
I waited for his tongue to stop wriggling, to stay still, then I returned it to him and turned my back on him.
Behind my back he plotted and planned,
and came up with a ploy to show me,
to show me that he could indeed convince me to buy a new pair of shoes.
He really didn’t know me.
While the salesman rushed away to save my shoes from incineration,
to unfollow the orders he had followed,
I turned with bare-footed defiance towards the manager,
who was smirking smugly at the results of his actions thus far,
licking his lips in anticipation of a win and a sure sale.
“If you think that I won’t walk out of this store in my bare feet, you, Sir, would be wrong.”
He doubted this very much.
“I actually had every intention of buying a new pair of shoes in this shop, which is why I came in here.
When I told you that you could not convince me to buy a pair of shoes, I meant it. I had already convinced myself that that was exactly what I was going to do.
have managed to convince me not to buy a pair of new shoes!”
And then I woke up.
“You might be poor, your shoes might be broken, but your mind is a palace.” ― Frank McCourt
“Inside the snow globe on my father’s desk, there was a penguin wearing a red-and-white-striped scarf. When I was little my father would pull me into his lap and reach for the snow globe. He would turn it over, letting all the snow collect on the top, then quickly invert it. The two of us watched the snow fall gently around the penguin. The penguin was alone in there, I thought, and I worried for him. When I told my father this, he said, “Don’t worry, Susie; he has a nice life. He’s trapped in a perfect world.” ― Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones
When I was a child I was trapped in a perfect world.
From the outside the life I was born into had all the appearances which the eyes of others would see with a touch of envy.
It was designed to look that way because those who created it equated envy with admiration, and admiration was the sort of attention which they desired because it nourished their need to be viewed as being better than.
From the outside people thought I was lucky.
I have had strangers walk up to me and talk to me about how blessed I was compared to them. They spoke to me about my life, who I was, all the things which I had been given and had, and how I should appreciate the abundance.
If I did not look sufficiently appreciative in their eyes, they would then lecture me about the world according to them, one in which others suffered (but not me), did not have as I had, and where other people (usually meaning themselves) had to struggle hard to get even a morsel of the cornucopia which had been handed to me on a silver platter without my truly being deserving of it.
From the outside people thought I was a spoiled brat.
They tell children to never talk to strangers, but no one tells strangers not to talk to children. So I had to stand there being talked to (or at but never with) without the ability to talk back. I had to listen politely.
From the outside I had the coolest parents a child could have.
My friends and schoolmates saw the toys, the things, which I had. Heard about the places I’d been, places parents usually did not take their children. And they were treated to an experience of parents, of adults, which they’d never had before when they met my parents.
How fortunate I was to have parents who behaved towards children as though they were equals, who were fun and played games as children played games.
From the outside my parents were adults.
They were older than the parents of most of my friends, but they behaved as though they were forever young, younger than the parents of my friends, younger than my friends, younger than me, but so much cooler. And unlike us, they’d never grow up or grow old.
From the outside I lived in a perfectly free world.
I had all the advantages, the scales were unbalanced in my favour. I could do as I pleased. Choose whichever path appealed to me the most (on a whim if whim did take me) or choose none at all. It didn’t matter.
I could go to school or not go to school. I could do my homework or not do my homework. I could stay up all night. Eat whatever I wanted. Drink wine. Watch X-rated films. Read Playboy. Swear like a crusty old sailor. Dress up or dress down or wear nothing at all.
Of course some of these things could only be done when no one was watching, but they still heard about it because creating an appearance isn’t all about the eyes. If you want others to look at you with the admiration of envy, then you have to tap into all of their senses, including nonsense. People especially love and love to hate what they can’t fathom.
From the outside I lived in the land of fame, fortune and fabulous things.
Welcome to the double life with double standards.
From the outside the inside is imagined. Imagined and judged by what is perceived of the outside. And the outside is a reflection of projection. Which is so much more interesting, enticing, and believable than what is actually real. What is on the inside is irrelevant. The truth inside can’t compete with the semblance of truth on the outside.
From the inside, I was trapped in a perfect world.
From the inside I looked outside.
I saw other lives. Ones I admired and envied. I saw luck where I was told luck did not exist. I saw blessings in what were called curses. I saw freedom in struggles. I saw ease in hardship. I saw opportunity in suffering. I saw plenty in emptiness.
I wanted the parents which other children rejected.
I wanted to earn and deserve what I earned.
I wanted to know what the other side of the scales was like.
I wanted the advantages which others called disadvantages.
My perfect world looked imperfect to me, and the imperfect world of others appeared perfect.
“These things, she felt, were not to be passed around like disingenuous party favors. She kept an honor code with her journals and her poems. ‘Inside, inside,’ she would whisper quietly to herself when she felt the urge to tell…” ― Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones