Yvonne and I were going through the buffet line at a luncheon the other day when a lady we had never met, remarked, “I love your shoes.” I started to glance down at my shoes and then realized she was talking to Yvonne.
Yvonne smiled warmly as two other ladies simultaneously stepped back and looked down to examine her shoes. Their attention couldn’t have been more immediately riveting than if someone had shouted, “Hey, there’s a fifty dollar bill under your shoe.”
Yvonne smiled proudly as she assumed the pose of a runway model for the ladies to admire the Liz Claiborne wedge heels she was wearing. The ladies all agreed that Yvonne’s shoes were striking, with their summery earth tones, closed toe, and thin cross straps that extended over the arch of her foot and connected to the strap around her open heel. “They’re stunning,” one of the ladies announced.
I busied myself dipping mashed potatoes and green beans while the ladies intently listened to Yvonne’s description of the extraordinary comfort, great price, and other virtues of her shoes. By the time they’d reached the end of the buffet line the ladies had exchanged phone numbers and email addresses to follow up on their unfinished conversation about shoes – well, not really, but it wouldn’t have surprised me if they had.
At first this was just another one of those ho-hum conversations that men have been enduring since females of the Homo-erectus species first began observing and talking about each other’s attire a few millennia ago. But as I listened to this animated hyperbolic exchange about the virtues – and necessity – of women’s shoes, among four women who heretofore were total strangers, it occurred to me – as it might to any caveman trying to think of something memorable to scrawl upon his cave wall as an archive for the ages – this would make a suitable topic for this week’s column.
But where could I turn for information? I decided to begin with my wife’s shoes. Now I don’t consider Yvonne an extravagant person when it comes to shoes, so when I snuck into the bedroom to count her shoes I was surprised to discover that they numbered more than 30 pairs. Actually that number may be much higher because I had to stop counting when she walked in and caught me staring into her closet. She abruptly interrupted my count by asking, “What in the world are you looking for in my closet?”
There is no good answer for why a husband would be staring in his wife’s closet, but I decided to give it a try. “Oh, I was just thinking about what I might buy you for our anniversary.” Even as the words were coming out of my mouth I knew she wouldn’t buy them because our anniversary isn’t until August 14, and she knows I never start thinking about an anniversary gift for her until at least August 13. She gave me that disgusted, “I know you’re lying” look, and said, “Yeah right. I think you’d better go back in the man cave where you belong.”
And so I did, deciding that maybe I should research the topic on the internet instead of using her shoe count as my data source. As it turns out, quite a bit has been written on this peculiarly interesting subject, although most of it is anecdotal rather than scientific. When I googled, “How many pairs of shoes does the average American woman own,” I got over 95,000 website hits. Being short on time (and not wanting to lose total consciousness from boredom), I decided to only look at a few of the sites that sounded most interesting. Here is what I learned.
According to several sites, the average American woman owns 19 pairs of shoes. Judging from the count of my conservative wife’s shoes (unless she has me completely fooled), I think those studies must have included females under 9 months and over age 90. Several other sites said the average woman owns 30 or more pairs of shoes, and one site estimated 40 – 60 pairs. Now that makes more sense.
Another site was even more definitive. It reported that the average woman will buy 469 pairs of shoes in her lifetime, for which she will spend over $25,000. To save you doing the math, that’s an average of $53.30 per pair. Personally, I think the shoe count is far too low and the average price is far too high. But really, 469 pairs of shoes? When and where could you possibly ever wear that many pairs of shoes in one lifetime?
But what do I know? I’m just a guy, and I have no room to talk because, as the owner of 8 pairs of shoes, I’m well above the average American male who has only 3-5 pairs of shoes. My shoes (as if anybody cares) include: 1 pair of six year old nearly worn out loafers; 2 pairs of dress shoes – 1 black, 1 brown, both of which have been resoled; two pairs of tennis shoes – 1 pair for yard work and the other for everyday; 2 pairs of hiking boots – 1 pair for hiking and the old pair saved for heavy yard work; and finally, one pair of sandals. That’s it. Oh, and I have about a dozen pairs of black socks. I gave up on blue, brown, and gray socks years ago so I would never have to worry about mixing them up or about what color to wear. Now that I’m retired and only wear white socks I guess I could get rid of 10 or 11 pairs of those black socks I never wear.
Well, enough said about shoes and socks. But for the record, I didn’t ask Yvonne for her thoughts or opinions about women’s shoes when I was writing this column. I already know I’m going to spend at least two weeks in the travel trailer after she reads this so why make it any worse?
George Brown is a free lance writer. He lives in Jackson Township.