Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Induction ceremony

A friend of mine recently inducted me into adulthood. Particularly,
adult womanhood.

I showed her my shoes, “I’m wearing my trainers today.” This is
different because lately I wear nothing but prescription orthopedic

“Oh, nice,” She said.

“Yeah, my feet are hurting though. I accidentally bought them the
wrong size.”

She made the “?” face.

“Well, I bought them in the morning you see.”

I know that sounds kind of irrelevant to shoe size maybe, but to
fitness buffs like my friend and to fitness hangers-on like me, we know
that your feet swell during the day, reaching maximum size some time in
the afternoon. Therefore, the shoes you buy in the morning won’t fit
by 3 pm. At the time of our conversation, it was 3:45 pm, CST, and I
was feeling the afternoon squeeze.

She nodded slowly and used her mock pedantic voice to say, “I see.”

“The shoe lady told me my foot was a wide now, but I said, ‘I have
always been a narrow. I will take a narrow.’”

At this new tidbit my friend exploded into stifled laughter--we were in
a software training seminar—and she was writhing around trying not to
fall off her chair or to laugh disruptively loud. But the hilarity was
too great for her to resist.

“You just acted like a typical woman! You just insisted you wear a
different size and got the wrong shoe!”

This was my moment of induction. As she continued with the belly
laughing, head bobbing, hair shaking enjoyment of my typicality, I got
very serious.

“Oh my god.” My eyes got big, and I put my hand to my mouth in stupor.
“I did just act like a typical woman.”

“Yeah! Ya did!” She sputtered her last chuckle.

I marveled at my own banality. And then laughed along with my friend
at how ridiculous it is to think of me as 1. adult, 2. adult woman, 3.

I got over the shock of becoming a typical woman, but it made me think
retrospectively. I remember my hometown newspaper running tons of
single panel cartoons about prissy women shoppers insisting to the male
shoe clerk that she has always been a 6 and a half and is still this day.

In addition, the Al Bundy character of “Married, with Children” sold
shoes for a living, and every customer I remember him interacting with
presented the identical scenario. A woman insists she must stuff her
giant middle-aged foot into the size she wore as a debutante. The joke
of these comic scenes is that the man knows better what the woman
really needs.

I remember the wrong shoe size gag in my hometown newspaper’s word
jumbles too. You have a cartoon, a riddle about the cartoon, and
jumble letters from which to make words that then yield the clues to
the riddle. I can do this, as a new inductee, I can create the
scenario. I’ve got a new riddle and cartoon already and waiting for an

Two male sales clerks wearing ties are standing to the right in the
background but are clearly visible and prominently dominating the
scene. In the foreground, a seated middle-aged woman is surrounded by
shoes and shoe boxes. She has a bouffant hair style and she’s wearing
a dress. Though she occupies the foreground, she is in the left and
bottom of the frame, in a diminutive corner of the cartoon, the men are
the primary focus. The customer is trying to force her larger foot
into a smaller shoe. The man on the right says the riddle to his chum,
“If that boat’s a size 6, then my dinghy’s a yacht!”

See? That was so easy, even a shoe-confused woman can make one up.

1 comment:

Amanda Moore said...

Who needs illustrations?? Just your description of that cartoon made me laugh out loud.