Back in October, I thanked ordinarybutloud for tagging me in her Seven Stylish Things post because it would give me something to blog about. And then I turned around and continued not blogging. Ha ha! Actually, I think I turned around and blogged about something else, and then lost my will to blog altogether. Again–even with a ready-made topic! This not-blogging is a sickness of mine. It starts with not knowing what to write about. Then it turns into thinking of something to write about but not really feeling like it. Then it turns into thinking, “If I’m going to spend time writing, I should write something real, rather than something bloggy.” And that turns into thinking, “I really don’t know what to write about, and everything there is to write about is something I don’t feel like writing about. And I should have majored in math in college.”
Seriously, I think I should have majored in math in college. I remember our senior…golly, what did they call that? Some special evening they had for graduating seniors at my college. What did they call it? It was a thing. All I remember is that my calculus professor introduced me to his wife (who happened to be the Dean of Students and may have met me before but wouldn’t have had any reason to remember me), and he said, “Pat, this is Mad Maidenname. She’s an English major, but she could have been a math major.” And I said, “Dr. E, I wish you had told me that three years ago.” Seriously, I did (wish and say so). (Totally irrelevant aside: I then found out that Dr. E had majored in both math and English as an undergraduate, and that made me like him even more. I have so many regrets about not majoring in math in college.)
I also remember I was wearing white shoes that night, even though it was after Labor Day (and before Easter). Which makes a perfect segue to the business end of my “Seven Stylish Things about Me” post.
Sometime during my sophomore year of college, I was in my friend’s dorm room, where she was getting ready for a thing. She turned to me and said, “Is it too early to wear white?” And I said, “I dunno. What time is it?” I had never heard that you shouldn’t wear white after Labor Day. Never! I think it was because I was born and raised on the West coast–not just the “West,” but the West Coast, where people are much less formal about their dress (and just about everything). Especially in Oregon, where I was born and raised during my formative years. So yes, I had never heard this rule, and I actually thought it was kind of dumb. I mean, says who? Why not? What’s so offensive about white after Labor Day? And I still think it’s a dumb rule. I think it’s a dumb rule, and yet ever since I learned it, I can’t help but be aware of it. I was aware of it that Senior-Something-Evening, when I was wearing the white shoes. I didn’t really want to wear the white shoes, because it was after Labor Day and this was Virginia and I didn’t want to look foolish, but they were the only shoes that went with my dress. I pretty much had two pairs of dress shoes–a black pair and a white pair, and the black pair would not have done, in my opinion. But perhaps I was wrong. I’m still second-guessing my decision after all these years.
I no longer own any white shoes. It’s not worth the angst. Also, they might be passe. Or so passe that they’re stylish again. I don’t know, but either way, I can’t deal.
As long as we’re on the topic of shoes, this is as good a time as any to tell you that although I don’t own many shoes, I really, really like shoes. I will pass by a shoe display just to see what’s there, even though I don’t need shoes and can’t really bring myself to purchase shoes that I don’t particularly need (because I’m a little cheap that way). But I appreciate stylish shoes. My daughter doesn’t like shopping with me because I am guaranteed at some point–or perhaps several points–to say, “Aren’t these shoes adorable???” And she’s like, “Whatever, Mom.”
What keeps me from being a shoe-a-holic is a) I’m kind of cheap and b) I always think, “What can I wear these shoes with, and where?” and c) I’m a size 9. If you’re a woman of large feet, you have also probably noticed that most of the cute shoes stop at size 7. Or, alternatively, that once you move past size 7, the shoes don’t look cute anymore. But I appreciate shoe style. I’m not an outgoing person at all–I’m the opposite of an outgoing person–but I have been known to exclaim to total strangers, “I love your shoes!” Because I love their shoes more than I love my dignity.
I am beginning to think this entire post could be about shoes, if I wanted it to be. I haven’t decided yet. But here’s another thing about me and shoes: My brain loves shoes. My feet insists that shoes be comfortable. Most of the time I wear sneakers, or “athletic shoes,” or whatever they’re called. I’ve decided that the best athletic shoes for my feet are Nikes. I don’t think I will buy any other kind from now on. I will endure discomfort for the sake of style on occasion. I wear heels even though they are no longer comfortable (either because I’ve gotten old or I spent too many years wearing flats because I didn’t want to tower over my 5’7″ husband) because they look so much better (especially on my large-ish feet). But one thing I will not wear is flip-flops. Not because I find them tacky, but because I find them uncomfortable. I can’t stand having things between my toes. (It’s the same reason I will never wear divided-toe socks.) And those flip-flop toe-thingies can be murder, depending on what they’re made out of. I honestly think you chronic flip-flop wearers must have callouses between your toes. I don’t know how you manage otherwise.
Last shoe-related thing, I promise (maybe): Just out of curiosity, how did you learn how to tie your shoes? Bunny-ear method, or squirrel-and-tree method? My dad taught me squirrel-and-tree in a single session, and I was shoelace-independent for life. My children couldn’t learn to tie their shoes for the life of them until someone (not me) taught them bunny-ear method, and then, voila. It was like when three separate members of my family tried to teach me to drive using a stick shift, but I could never do it–and then I got put behind the wheel of an automatic and I was like, “Really? Driving can be this easy? Why would anyone do it the other way???” I’m sure that’s what my kids were thinking about me and my esoteric shoe-tying ways. It wasn’t that I was prejudiced against the bunny-ear method; it just never occurred to me to use it because that’s not how I tie shoes (and once a child learned to do it for him or herself, I washed my brains of the whole affair). But after having three children fail to grasp the concept of squirrel and tree, I was determined to teach Girlfriend to tie her shoes the bunny-ear way. And guess what. SHE DOESN’T GET IT. Which leads me to believe it isn’t the method, it’s just me.
It would have been better–from an artistic point of view–if I’d just stuck with the shoe theme. But I realized that I actually don’t have anything else to say about shoes. Sure, later on this evening I’ll probably think of a couple more things and go, “Doh! Why couldn’t I have thought of that earlier? Seven Stylish Shoe Things would have been so much awesomer. But noooooo…” The only problem is that if I wait to think of another shoe thing, I’ll never think of it. So I have to just move on, even if it’s wrong. Which makes me think Thing 6 should be about my writing style.
I had a white-shoes-after-Labor-Day moment in that last paragraph. I said “go” when I meant “say.” I do that, and I know I’m doing it because I’m hyper-aware of all the rules I break. Sometimes I agonize over breaking them. Because I definitely know better. But I do it anyway, because to some extent, I do write the way I talk, and sometimes when I’m talking and I mean “I said…,” I’ll say, “I went…” or “I was all…”- Because sometimes I didn’t say–I went or I was all. You know? Sometimes I was even “like.” I’m not proud, but that’s how I do.
Something that is more analogous to the white-shoes-Labor-Day thing, though, is when I split my infinitives. Until my British Lit 201 professor brought it to my attention, I had no idea you weren’t supposed to split infinitives. Really. And like the white shoes rule, I thought it was really stupid. I still think it’s stupid. But from that point onward, I have not been able to split an infinitive without being hyper-aware of it. I end sentences with prepositions with impunity, but the split infinitive–it’s a much lesser offense and yet I’m very self-conscious about it. I do it all the time, sure, but self-consciously. And not ironically. I think it’s because it was such a rude awakening to discover that I didn’t actually know all the arcane rules of English grammar. It was humiliating, just like when I was in my friend’s dorm room and suddenly my whole life of wearing shoes between the months of September and April flashed before my eyes.
People who know me before they read me tell me I write just like I talk. But people who read me before they meet me are usually disappointed. What’s that about? I dunno. But it’s a thing.