Shoes: A Black Friday Miracle


I’ve never understood people’s fascination with shoes.

I’ve hated shoes all my life, because my feet hurt. One look at the sweet little footprints inked on my birth certificate might explain my disdain for footwear. I was born with a bent left foot, and though the condition was surgically repaired in my twenties, shoes … still … hurt. I’ve also had a number of other medical procedures performed on my feet over the years, but – on the off chance you’re enjoying a meal – I will spare you the details.

Birth Certificate

One study says American women on average own 27 pairs of shoes, while men own 12. Eighty-five percent of women admit there is at least one pair of shoes in their closet that they’ve never worn. The shoes are too uncomfortable – too high or tight – according to 64% of respondents. Apropos of nothing, 41% won’t wear their shoes because they were too expensive and they fear damaging them. One can picture these ladies staring longingly at those pointy red stilettos, sighing … wondering what might have been.

Sometimes, my shoes got me into trouble. One gray Connecticut afternoon, my boss at ESPN called me into his office and insisted that I not wear Pumas or Nikes or Adidas or any other form of athletic shoes in the studio. An odd request, I thought, since I was working for the all-sports-all-the-time network. He claimed that viewers would know about my sneakers, whenever I was sitting at the SportsCenter anchor desk.

At first, I thought it was some kind of prank. An initiation joke of some kind, because how could the station’s followers have any idea what I was wearing under the desk? I could have been naked from the waist down and they wouldn’t have known. Then, my boss pointed out the low-angle side camera that clearly displayed my sneaks curled up under my chair, a beacon in their whiteness for a national audience of drunk and sleepy late-night sports fans.

Then there was the time I arrived at a junior varsity football game with a painful big toe. My black officiating football shoes were unbearable, so I switched them out for a pair of white sneakers, figuring that, sartorially, they would go perfectly with my black and white uniform. But, no! You would have thought I’d appeared in pair of pink pumps, considering the reaction of my peers, who rolled their eyes and raised their eyebrows and treated me like a pariah.

I have been lucky the past two decades in that, as a teacher, what covers my feet is never an issue.  Still, whenever I am required to attend a “function” I get a bit queasy. My first thought is always about my shoes and how much pain I’m willing to endure to look the part. Because, for me, finding comfortable shoes is akin to locating that last remaining unicorn. That perfect pair not realty but myth.

So, imagine my surprise when, on my Black Friday shopping trip, the angels sang, and trumpets blew, and there before me were the shoes I’ve always dreamed about.

“How do they feel?” my sweetie pie asked amid the bustle of bargain-hunting shoppers.

I walked around, beaming. I felt like Cinderella. “They’re a perfect fit! And … so pretty!”

He smiled.

“I can’t wait to wear them.”

“You know …

Boots 2

… they’re hunting boots.”

“Obviously!” I said, undoing the laces and Velcro and zippers. “And I will be hunting rocks.”

“Of course, you will.”

A Light in the Desert-cov (6)


Blank Slate Press/Amphorae Publishing Group

286 Pages

Price: $16.95 Paperback, $9.99 eBook

As a Vietnam veteran and former Special Forces sniper descends into the throes of mental illness, he latches onto a lonely pregnant teenager and a group of Pentecostal zealots – the Children of Light – who have been waiting over thirty years in the Arizona desert for Armageddon. When the Amtrak Sunset Limited, a passenger train en route to Los Angeles, is derailed in their midst in a deadly act of sabotage, their lives are thrown into turmoil. As the search for the saboteurs heats up, the authorities uncover more questions than answers. And then the girl vanishes. As the sniper struggles to maintain his sanity, a child is about to be born in the wilderness.

Come to the launch of A Light in the Desert on Friday, November 30th at Changing Hands Bookstore in Phoenix. The program begins at 7:00 PM.

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