Why I Love Shoes and Priests

When I was a kid I had to wear this heavy leg brace and clunky ugly orthopedic shoes (my mother referred to them as “corrective”). That experience set me on a lifelong pursuit of cute shoes and a resulting shoe collection that rivals any Philippino dictator’s wife. Year after year I poured over the Sears and JC Penney catalogs, circling the pretty shoes and hoping against hope that my mom would eventually allow me to wear something outside of the Herman Munster Line.

I swooned over the wedgy-wanna-be sandals like the pair my older sister wore to Homecoming; and dreamed of black patent leather Mary Janes, and pink and white saddle shoes. When I saw the Swedish clogs with butterfly cutouts that came in black, white, and tan I fell completely in love. Over and over I begged my mom to order them for me. She considered my request, especially when she noticed the clogs came in both an open heel and a sling-back style. She believed the leather sling-back would give my feet added protection so that I wouldn’t “fall out” of the shoes when I walked, as if years in a nighttime brace made it impossible for me to walk normally in the daylight.

The mail took forever to deliver my clogs. They arrived the day before our Brownie troop was to march in the Gaylord parade. I stepped out of the house proud in my tan uniform, ill-fitting beanie, and new white clogs with the cutouts and the strap.

About a block from the parade assembly area one of the straps broke, and just as my mother predicted I fell out of my shoes! I sat on the curb watching my troop lineup and sobbed; betrayed by my shoes and outwitted by my mother.

I felt a hand on my shoulder and looked up to see our priest, Father Roofs, dressed in his casual black pants and top. He lived across the street from the school yard where the parade route began, and we had a special relationship. He was kind and wise, and he listened. When you are a 6 year old in a house filled with four teen girls you appreciate anyone who hears you.

Between sobs I told Father what happened, and he inspected my broken clog but was unable to repair it. As the parade began, Father wiped my tears and told me, “Don’t worry, Little Patty Johnson. We’ll have our own parade.” He walked by my side as I hobbled along the sidewalk, far behind my troop and the other marchers, and to this day I am convinced that our parade was much better than the real one.

Have a great weekend and buy some cute shoes!


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