'Nothing succeeds like excess." Oscar Wilde may not have been talking about my sister, the shoe queen, but I have a feeling that he could have.
It's not necessarily wrong to have as many shoes as Imelda Marcos, but since my sister isn't the wife of a dictator, I feel she needs to reassess her priorities.
"Oh please, everyone should have at least 10 pairs of shoes," she says as she realigns them in her closet. I try to remember the last time I had more than three pairs in mine. Our theories on the matter are, to say the least, different. A shopping trip for my sister isn't a shopping trip unless she comes home with at least four pairs of shoes. For me, shoe shopping is a nuisance. I'd rather have a pair arrive at my door than to have to go out and find one. My sister rolls her eyes every time she hears me say this.
"There is an art to finding the right pair of shoes," she says as she dismisses my philosophy with a wave of her hand. I found out how true this was one Saturday when she asked me to find a pair of her shoes.
We were to meet for breakfast after she took a jog - and after I'd managed to roll myself out of bed. As she huffed and puffed up and down various hills in the neighborhood, I lazily threw on some clothes and slipped on some shoes. As I headed out the door, the phone rang.
"Hi!" she said. (She can jog and talk on her cellphone at the same time, something that takes way too much coordination for me.) "I'm glad I caught you. Can you bring me my gray jogging shoes?"
"Uh, OK," I said. "Didn't you leave the house with shoes on?"
"Yes, of course," she said as if I'm the crazy one.
"I don't understand," I continued. "Did you wear them out by jogging too hard?"
Still unamused, she explained: "These shoes are too sweaty, and I don't want to wear them another minute!"
Not wanting to start an argument and getting more hungry by the minute, I agreed to get whatever shoes she wanted. "OK, I'm in your closet," I said. "Tell me again which ones." I stared into the sea of shoes. Glancing at it, or looking with eyes unfocused, one might think one is looking through a doorway into a beautiful garden. So many shades of each color!
"Gray jogging shoes." She repeated. "And hurry, I'm almost at the restaurant!" Being reminded that now I have to beat the clock, my eyes darted around, looking for the jogging-shoe section, which I was confusing with the regular old sneaker section.
"OK, I think I have them," I said as I picked up what looked exactly like gray running shoes to me.
"Are you sure?" She asked, still jogging.
"I think so. They have black and white stripes on the sides and white laces." I was hoping to get to breakfast soon.
"No, just plain gray!" she said with a huff. This is ridiculous, I thought. What planet is she from? I could think of at least 10 times when I'd been to the gym and worn the same shoes for the rest of the day. I've been told by my sister that this is not only disgusting, but also disrespectful to those around me: the ones who may have to breathe in the fumes from my toxic shoes.
As I thought those things, I was certain that she was thinking about how gross I was for not maintaining a shoe garden like hers. Now I was thinking of where I could go to nominate her for Miss Priss of the Year.
"Tell you what," I said, "why don't I just bring the whole closet?" She was not even beginning to be amused. Just as my stomach was starting to yell at me to send down a muffin or a bagel, I heard the front door open. The phone was still to my ear as my sister walked up to where I was, in front of her closet.
'Move!" she said. And with one sweep of her arm she picked up a pair of shoes that I had not yet spotted.
"Oh, those gray shoes," I said. "Sorry." She started to laugh.
"I needed to take a shower anyway." She told me. "I'll be quick." I plopped down on the couch to wait. I put my feet up and looked at my shoes, which were also gray, though they may have once been black or white, I couldn't recall.
"I'm sorry I called you 'Miss Priss,' " I said once we were out the door.
"You didn't call me that!" she said. "At least not out loud." We looked at each other and began to laugh. We had to stop walking, we were laughing so hard. No matter how different we are, besides our love for one another we are united by our love of laughter. It's one of the ways we meet somewhere in the middle.
Maybe one of these days she'll donate some shoes from her garden, and I'll set aside a little plot of land to start my own.