Every time the office buzzer rang today, I silently prayed it would be the courier. And when it eventually was, and I finally had the box in my hand, I simply didn’t know what to do with it.
My heart raced, adrenaline surged through my veins, and my lips suddenly dried out. I realised I was completely overwhelmed, in the way toddlers get when they’re tired and something nice happens to them and they burst into tears because it’s the only thing they can manage.
Having all the office eyes on me didn’t help. We all knew what lay within the cardboard box and folds of tissue, and the mostly-female office was as curious as I was reluctant to break into the Pandora’s box of unbridled shoejoy.
I couldn’t bring myself to. It was about savouring a moment.
The last time I felt like this I was 12, and had been picked to run for my county in an athletics competition (yeah. This HAPPENED. Believe me, there’s an athlete inside desperate to get out but I’ve locked her in a straitjacket that smells of gin, Marlboro menthols and regret).
My Hi-Tec trainers had seen better days, but my parents didn’t have much spare cash for luxuries like expensive new running trainers. There were four of us children, and while we always had the best birthdays and Christmases, we knew better than to ask for big-ticket items at any other time of year. I wasn’t looking forward to it, but had resigned to running the race in my battered old daps.
Then, a few days before the big event, my dad swept in from work with a smile on his face and a sports shop carrier bag in his hand….
I knew what they were. But it took me a while to be able to open the box. I knew what that box represented for him as much as what it meant to me. It would have meant an extra shift at the steelworks, and he already seemed to work almost every hour god sent. I held the box tightly before carefully prising it open, because I could practically smell the love that had gone into those trainers, and I wanted to breathe it in.
My boxfresh monochrome Nike Air Huaraches weren’t much of a help, as it turned out. I came third from last in the race. But at least I couldn’t blame the trainers. And my dad was as proud as punch anyway.
That day is one of my happiest memories of my dad. I’ll never forget his face when he arrived home proudly clutching his goodie bag. One of the lessons I’m grateful to my parents for teaching me is that nothing worth having in life comes easily; to never expect anything, and to be prepared to work hard for the things you want. But that occasionally, life will be kind to you…and you never know when.
Fast forward twenty years….
Like all of my purchases, this was a spur-of-the-moment one.
It was a lazy Saturday afternoon, and they’d been on my mind a lot. I couldn’t shake the urge. I’m not certain that I really wanted to shake it, mind you. EIGHT YEARS these babies had been on my mind. It was probably an episode of Sex and The City that put them there, and once they were in, they buried their way into my consciousness like particularly sexy brainmaggots, refusing to budge.
I’d been for a run and to the gym that day, all part of my new quest to rediscover the straitjacketed athlete inside. I was feeling all endorphin high, proud of myself for hauling my ass out of bed early on a Saturday, and had this vague notion that such effort deserved a REWARD. To most people this may be a jaffa cake, or a copy of Grazia.
And then there they were, like seductive red and black serpents in the Garden of Eden, suggestively hissing “BUY US” in my ear.
So I did.
I’d been squirreling away cash for a purchase like this for a while. I just hadn’t decided what it would be. I’m a big believer in spontaneity and when I get a message like that from some imaginary patent reptiles, who the hell am I to argue with it? It’s more than my job as a Padawan of impetuous consumerism is worth, quite frankly.
The minute I pressed ‘confirm order’ on the deliciously slick website, my heart did a little forward roll and it’s been doing a cheerleading routine ever since. And then they were here. In my hands. And I couldn’t open them.
I thought about my dad, who isn’t here anymore, and the daps, and tears pricked behind my eyeballs.
“They’re new Nike Air Huaraches for the grown up version of me…” I told him, silently.
“…and I’ve worked REALLY HARD FOR THEM!” (See. Still a teenager in my head).
And then they weren’t a pixelated image on an online receipt any more, but living, breathing patent pumps, their resplendent red soles creating an aesthetically joyous installation on my desk (superstitious? MEH!).
Eight years of wondering what it would feel like to wear these beauties melted away as I slipped them on my feet like a slightly overweight Cinderella. The answer? They were tight. Like all new shoes.
My first few steps in them resembled a baby giraffe learning to rollerblade.
But as I teetered around my office – to audible “oohs” and “aaahs” like some sort of foot-related firework display – I slowly started to feel like that kid in the Nike Airs again. Despite the 10cm heels, they’re not abject agony to wear! These beauties are some seriously engineered works of art.
The little card that came with them carried this delightful note:
“We hope you enjoy these shoes as they carry you off on magical days and fanciful nights”
Oh, how I’m looking forward to lots of both!
Because I’d wager that it’s simply impossible to rain on the parade of a girl sashaying around town in sparkly new red-soled shoes.