Tuesday, 2 September 2008

New Shoe Hell.

“Alice, I will do anything, anything, but please I beg you not that!” so pleaded Hubby the other morning as we lay in bed.
“What’s the big deal?” I answered grumpily, “Other men do it and I don’t want to do it by myself”.
“You’ll enjoy it more on your own, really love, I just can’t stomach it. In fact I feel a panic attack coming on just thinking about it”.
I sat up, “Don’t you think you are being a tad over-dramatic? Honestly, I’ve only suggested that you come with me to buy new school shoes and you’d swear you were being coerced into some deviant and transgressive act”. Hubby at least had the grace to look sheepish.
“Yeah well, you’re a better man than I am Gunga Din. I’ll get dinner ready for when you get home, I’ll re-grout the bathroom tiles, I’ll weed the garden, I’ll...”, his voice trailed as I got out of bed and pulled some drawers on.
“Ok”, I said, hopping around our bedroom as I attempted to get the other leg in, “I get the picture, but I’m not taking them all then. I may indeed be a better man than you but even I know my limitations and taking all four children to buy school shoes, is most definitely one of them”.
Leaving the youngest and most unpredictable child behind with her father, I drove away in silence. Not only was 11.30 far too early for teenagers but the thought of a day spent traipsing after their mother, buying items for school had rendered my eldest children mute and irritable. The six year old was more up-beat, her only request being, “Can I have a doll in my shoes mum?”
It really shouldn’t have come as any surprise but when I was on the verge of vertigo given how many floors we’d driven up and then corkscrewed down again in the new shopping mall car park before we found a parking space, I began to fear that perhaps every parent with school age children had had the same idea.
Jones’s was the first stop. They were duly measured and the young assistant brought a selection of boxes, removed the shoes and attempted to persuade my children’s feet into said shoe. I felt Prince Charming’s despair; none of the shoes fitted.
“Well why don’t they fit?”, I asked the 13 year old.
“They rub” she answered, stonily before hissing in my ear, “and they are seriously hideous”.
My son wouldn’t even try his selection on and the six year old choked on a sob, “But they haven’t got a doll in”.
“That’s Clarke’s”, said the assistant automatically and without emotion, as though this was the thousandth time she been stymied in her sales by a disappointed school girl, hell bent on a plastic doll in her heel.
“I’m sorry”, I said, gathering my kids, “This is going to be a long day”. I walked out briskly, holding onto my six year old daughter’s hand firmly. My other daughter was near me but my son was doing his level best to lose us in the crowd, shuffling his feet slowly and meandering. It was all I could do not to clip his ear.
We could hear Clarke’s shoe shop before we could see it and by the time we eventually climbed the stairs to the children’s department, the noise was cacophonous. An assistant met us with a number and wasn’t even able to say, ‘take a seat’ as there weren’t any. Not one. Only harassed parents, screaming toddlers strapped into pushchairs and other children of varying ages. Boxes, shoes, socks and tissue paper lay everywhere and everyone: parents, staff and children looked close to tears.
One little girl was having a pair of black, lace up shoes fitted. Finally she succumbed to a sob.
“But they are so ugly”, she blubbed, “They look like special needs shoes. I want girly ones like Hannah. Hers have got lights.” Her mother looked on, defeated.
We waited in this retail hell for forty minutes before we were served. My son, who has size 12 feet was allowed to go downstairs to the adults section as there was nothing available for him in size Sasquatch. My girls, thank God, were measured and fitted without further delay and with a pair they, and more importantly I, liked. The younger had the all important doll and the elder a pair that weren’t too ‘academic looking’. Her words not mine.
I went downstairs to find my son leaning in the doorway.
“Well?”, I asked, impatiently, “What’s happening?”
“I wouldn’t be seen dead in any of them”. God give me strength. We still had uniform to get.
As we walked, stony faced back towards the mall, my son’s girlfriend and her best friend walked towards us. Suddenly as though a magic spell had been cast, my son’s recalcitrant manner was transformed into joy, effusion and animation. Smiling from ear to ear, he hugged her tight. Time for a break. We left them outside, to court, whilst the rest of the family sipped frappucinos in Starbucks. The best friend was left to stare at her hands.
Revitalised after a sit down, it was time for Round 3. The lovers said goodbye by way of a lingering snog under the escalators but my son did rejoin us with a spring in his step. Barratt’s provided the shoes, shiny black winkle pickers and Derry’s with brown skirts, a nasty jumper and a green blazer.By the time I arrived home I was fit for nothing, except a lie down, alcohol and guilt induced TLC from Hubby. It was not forthcoming. There was a note on the fridge, ‘Gone to Mags and Co for BBQ. Sorry about dinner. Promise I’ll cook tomorrow. Hope you had fun. Love you xxx’. Fun? Fun, my arse. Plotting my revenge? Now that was fun..


enidd said...

Tell him all three pairs of shows need to be returned for various reasons...

Hope you dumped the ungrateful sprogs and rushed to the bbq yourself?

Alice Band said...

enidd - fab to hear from you! Where are you?

It's just me said...

Kids should not be allowed feet.

They either won't put them in anything that makes sense, or rankly they are just generally too fragrant...

Eloise said...

Sorry for your painful outing, but at least it provided some good blog fodder! Only you, dear Alice, could spin such a day into a marvelously funny tale.

Can't wait to hear about wife's revenge...

Anonymous said...

Hello Alice,
Came across your blog and have had so much fun reading it. I'm finally up to date now having spent every spare minute reading through it. Comiserate with you over the shoe shopping, quite the worst thing to have to do before the dreaded return to school!!
Best wishes Scribble

MelMaGray said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MelMaGray said...

(I goofed in my first post so am re-submitting)
I found your site via From The Frontlines and love it...except for the small white type on black background--I'm still seeing imaginary lines. :)
what a funny story--love the way you write. with a wide width, I, too, always hated shoe-shopping.
amazing if you and MAMF actually do meet up!
take care!

Anonymous said...

Oh, the pain of it!
I'd say your husband owes you. Big time.

My 2 oldest boys need new shoes. I keep hoping that dh will do the honors. Heck, I keep hoping he'll take ME shoe shopping!

I'm sorry, but I'm as bad as a teenage boy when it comes to buying shoes.

Mopsa said...

Alice - who's the company who sorted out your exchange? I've been asked to host a 14 yr old from Switzerland and just cant do it, but would like to put her parents in touch with a recommended organisation.