I am no Imelda Marcos. I stumble in stilettos and wobble in wedges. Flats are my friends. Gravity is kinder to me when I am low to the ground. I am not what you would call graceful, much more of a klutz. I took ballet briefly as a teenager but never managed to dance on my toes. Jealous of my classmates in tap shoes, I lacked Shirley Temple’s “je ne sais quoi”. And on top of all that my feet were fat — at least so my mom told me!
My closet as a kid looked like the inside of a men’s shoe store: Hushpuppies, Keds, Weejuns, saddle shoes, oxfords. I might as well have been a boy. I lusted after shoes of a more exotic kind: red patent leather, sexy black velvet, shiny white, sparkly sequined and even those with little heels — but it was not to be. My little fat feet did not fit into them. I wore a triple D width, a size not often kept in stock at the local Stride Rite store.
Shoe shopping with my mom and all six of us siblings was a bit of a nightmare. The salesman would line us all up to measure our feet with that shiny metal foot gauge thing. Then he would disappear behind the magic curtain at the back of the store. Then Abracadabra! he’d return, arms filled with boxes, which he dealt out like a deck of cards. Each of my brothers and sisters would get at least two or three pairs to try on. I would invariably get one and only one. I did not even have to lift the lid to know what was inside my shoebox — a sturdy pair of red oxfords with matching red shoelaces. “Don’t cry” my mom would tell me. “I told you not to cry.” Shoe shopping day — definitely not my dancing day.
As you can imagine the Peacock family shoe budget had to be pretty hefty. There were new shoes for school, new boots for winter, new tennis shoes for gym, new dress shoes for Easter, new sandals for summer and new shoes simply because you grew out of the old shoes. It did not stop there. Both of my parents had quite an appetite for shoes. My mother’s were all stacked and color-coded in plastic boxes piled high in her closet. My dad’s wing tips and tassled loafers were all lined up like soldiers, shoe-trees in each and every pair.
Lucky for me as I grew older my feet grew slimmer. My foot ware became a bit more fashionable — stacked heels, platforms, espadrilles, Chinese canvas Mary-Jane’s, herache sandals. desert boots, and my first pair of Birkenstalks. (Did I mention that I am a child of the 60’s and 70’s?) I would get my parent’s charge card and charge up a closet full of shoes. I had shoes for my every mood –shoes for walking and running and skipping and promenading and waltzing and dancing and hiking and marching. Shoes for standing on tip toes. Shoes for making an impression. And shoes for taking a stand. Because you never knew, when you might need to stand your holy ground.
Now all grown up, my go-to shoes are Chucks and Toms. I have three pairs of Chucks: black, purple and turquoise– and twice as many Toms. Toms are my hypomanic happy feet. Comfortable and colorful, some made of canvas and some made of suede, these shoes have me dancing with the angels. For every pair I purchase here at home, Tom gives a pair to a needy child in places faraway. What better reason is there to get out my debit card and shop away on my Mac into the wee hours of the morning? So I have a pair of lilac lace, one of red terry cloth, and one multicolored canvas. I have two pair of flats, one two toned canvas, the other black suede with little silver stars. And of course a cool pair of suede boots. I must be a saint!
Well the bipolar budget bursts. When manic, I am no good with money – just like my mom. Well not exactly like my mom. My mom’s spending sprees made no sense. She bought the craziest things out of catalogs. She could spend as much money in the drug store as she could in a jewelry store. She often bought two or three of the same thing, simply because she forgot she bought it. I on the other hand, clothe my spending in virtue. I am generous to a fault when it comes to my children, breaking the bank for their every endeavor — even when they don’t ask for it and even though they are grown. I am no philanthropist, but there is nary a charity dear to my heart that does not get a check. But I really should check first just how much my checkbook will bare.
And then there are the “Toms” and here I manically believe myself to be standing in the holy of holies — and on the holiest of ground — elevated ever higher with every pair I wear.
A touch of grandiosity can go an awful long way –much further than my bipolar bank balance I am sorry to say. The truth be told, people with a manic-depressive temperament often lose control of their wallets putting themselves financially at risk. Debts pile up and bills go unpaid. Homes get foreclosed on and cars get repossessed. Credit scores take a nosedive and unscrupulous companies like American Debt Mediators feed on the desperation. (Do not go anywhere near these folks, American Debt Mediators has an “F” rating with the Better Business Bureau of Texas.)
We bipolar folks need to balance our finances as much as we need to balance our moods. This is why debit cards and not credits are our friends. This is why online banking rather than a paper check book is our friend. This is why hiking up our withholdings for federal and state taxes is a really good idea. Cash and carry each and every day keeps the debt collectors away. No, not every day’s a dancing day –and that really is just okay for this Manic Christian.
So friends, can you afford to walk a day in my shoes?