If the shoes fit: Wear them out

Helena Rodriguez: Local columnist

Last week, several people stood in line at a shoe store in San Francisco for five days, waiting for the latest edition of Michael Jordan designer shoes, which cost $295 a pair.
Ridiculous, if you ask me. Even more ridiculous, is that these footwear-obsessed fans say they will not even think of wearing these new Air Jordan VI Retro and Air Jordan XI Retro basketball shoes.

Only 36 pair of these shoes were to be distributed on Feb. 16. At that price, they are an investment.

As I saw this story on the news, I became nostalgic for the good ole days — the days when I could take my daughter Laura to the bargain shoe store and get her a decent pair of shoes for $10 or $20. Laura was satisfied back then with her Little Mermaid and Pocahontas tennis shoes. Not anymore.

When it comes time for shoe shopping now, Laura wants to head to the mall in Lubbock and spend a pretty penny. I tell Laura she’s just paying for that designer name. These shoes are seriously overpriced.

This past fall, I unknowingly bought my first pair of Air Jordan’s. The price was not bad at all, by today’s standards anyway. After stubbornly hanging on to my last pair of tennis shoes for three years, they were starting to fall apart, not to mention smell a little funny, and so I decided to break down and buy a new pair.

I found myself on Laura’s turf, at the mall in Lubbock, and I asked Laura’s opinion on tennis shoes. She liked a nice bright pair of white tennis shoes with a shiny silver logo embedded on the side, which I tried on. Again, the price wasn’t bad, by Nike standards anyway, and so I said, “Sold!”

I had found a good sale and paid only about a sixth of what those Air Jordan VI Retro and Air Jordan XI Retro collectors paid, plus, I planned to get a lot of wear and tear out of these shoes.

When I wore this shiny new pair of tennis shoes to my mom’s house, my sister Julie commented, “I like your Air Jordans!” I didn’t care that they were Jordans. The name had not even fazed me. Nevertheless, upon Julie saying this, I looked down and twisted my shoes around like Dorothy with her ruby slippers on the Wizard of Oz. I’m not used to having new shoes.

Speaking of new shoes, this reminds me of a clever little stunt I pulled as a child, which helped me get a new pair of shoes before I had worn out my last pair. That was the norm when I was growing up. There were no primadonna Imelda Marcoses in our family. We wore our shoes until they were worn out, and then it was to the bargain store for a new pair.

I remember one time, though, when my sister Becky got a new pair of shoes and I was envious. She needed them for a special event at school or church. Anyway, I felt I should have a new pair of shoes, too, but Mom said, “Your shoes are still good!”

Still determined to get a new pair of shoes like Becky, I went into my bedroom and found a pair of scissors. I decided to make my old pair of black and white striped tennis shoes into open-ended sandals and so I started cutting away. Mom was furious when she soon discovered what I had done to my only good pair of shoes and so she had no choice but to take me to the store and buy me a new pair of shoes, too.

Needless to say, I got into trouble and got spanked that evening. But when Uncle Phillip came over and found out what I had done, he laughed and elbowed me, “That’s a good way to get a new pair of shoes!” he said in a rather congratulatory tone, and so I felt a little proud of myself.

I had beaten the old, “If the shoe fits, wear it, and wear it until it wears out” system.

Helena Rodriguez is a freelance columnist. She can be reached at: