Sunday, November 01, 2009

Shoe Genetics

I feel like should get some special award on my blog this week, as they seem to be the inspiration for many of my posts as of late. The latest one that has gotten my thoughts all twisted up is their post on buying shoes.

When we think of genetics, we tend to think about inheriting things like eye color, hair color, body type, diseases, etc. I have also wondered on occasion if certain habits that we consider a result of environment/upbringing aren't also genetic. Shoe-buying is one of them.

Like the Cracked post, it's easy to label shoe-buying as a woman-centric phenomenon. But consider the following example. My paternal grandmother was obsessed with shoes. When we cleaned out her closet at the time she entered a nursing home, she had a shoe collection that rivaled Imelda Marcos's. My sister has a similar passion for shoes. When I fly out to visit her, we'll jump in the car, and hit the mall. She'll always say, "C'mon, Bridge, let's go look at some SHOES."

Eh, not so weird you say. Typical female shoe-buying behavior. But consider that the other obsessive shoe buyer in my family is my father. Yes, that's right. My Dad--a working class, mechanically inclined, Korean war veteran, ditch digging, conservative Republican male--likes to buy shoes. I'm not sure why, and I don't think he knows, either. But he definitely owns more shoes than my mother. It makes me wonder if he didn't inherit this behavior from my grandmother.

As for me, if this is genetic, I didn't inherit it. I'm not a fan of buying shoes. I buy the cheapest pair I can find that looks halfway decent, and wear them until they break in half, or at least until they look like they've been attacked by rabid dogs. My favorite pair of knee-high suede boots cost me a dollar at a rummage sale, and are "still going." The last really nice pair of boots that I bought was purchased at a 75% off sale, and I was lucky enough to find my size. I'm just a real cheapskate with shoes.

But my cheapness is not without rationale. Years ago, I was told by doctors that I have "flawed" feet. This can be defined as "feet like my mother's". My mother is a beautiful woman, but has dreadful feet. One foot continually turns over on its side, all of the veins are broken and bruised, and she has a huge bone spur on the foot that turns over. She needs extra-wide shoes in two different sizes. My feet are not that bad, but they are threatening to head in that direction. My left foot does have a tendency to "turn" on its side, though so far, that's the worst that's happened. (I was born pigeon-toed and had special shoes to straighten that out, but that's a different matter). Nonetheless, my doctor suggested that I only wear certain types of sturdy shoes to keep my foot from getting any worse. She recommended Easy Spirits, as these were supposed to be excellent shoes for problem feet. Well. I bought a pair of Easy Spirits for $70. Within a month they were shot and had to be thrown away. In the meantime--the pair of shoes I'd picked up in a bargain bin 10 years earlier for $5 and still looked okay (and felt better on my feet) were still going strong. We tend to equate dollar amount with actual quality, but I think that shoes are the exception to this rule.

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