I hate buying shoes

Rick Watson Guest Columnist

October 24, 2013

I’d rather pass a kidney stone than shop for shoes. My wife Jilda, on the other hand, would skip a meal to shop for boots and pumps. I’ve talked about this before, but I think it’s a point worth reiterating.

Do you know anyone who has Zappo’s online shoe store on speed dial? The folks answering the phone at Zappo’s recognize her voice, and they’ve all memorized her American Express number by heart. She has a bumper sticker on her Volvo that says “Will Work for Shoes.”

She has shoes for every occasion. In fact, I challenge anyone to come up with a situation for which she doesn’t have appropriate footwear.

It wouldn’t matter if she was trekking in Tibet, spending a night dancing at the country club, attending the funeral of a third cousin twice removed, or going to a pig toss, she always wears the perfect pair of shoes.

Whenever I go shopping with her, I take something to occupy my time. I once read War and Peace from cover-to-cover while she was perusing a discount shoe store.

For me, part of the problem is that I can never get a mental picture of how they will look when I wear anything other than what I’m wearing at the time. I’m not sure if it’s a genetic “thang” or what, but I can’t.

I can go to a store looking for shoes and after a few minutes, all the shoes seem to meld together like a giant cow that’s been shaved with a straight razor.

Jilda will see a pair of shoes and say, “Oh these will look good with your crimson sweater and black jeans.” Inevitably I’ll ask, “Do I have a crimson sweater?” At that point, she selects a pair of shoes and barks, “Try these on.”

I clomp around the store area like I’m wearing water skis. For me, shoes don’t start feeling, or wearing right until I’ve worn a hole in the sole big enough to toss a puppy through.

Right now I only have three pairs of shoes in my closet that I wear with any regularity. I have tennis shoes (Converse, because even the stylistically challenged understand the coolness of Converse tennis shoes). I also have a pair of black loafers, and some hiking boots.

Currently, I can go anywhere and I feel comfortable with my shoes. I take a shower, I pick out either jeans, shorts, or dress pants with a corresponding shirt, and slip on a pair of shoes and bam! I’m hunting my keys.

Jilda, on the other hand, has a mind like a Cray Super Computer when it comes to picking out the right combination of clothing and shoes. She calculates color, texture, weather conditions, altitude, location, and whether or not she’ll be singing. (She always takes her shoes off when she sings…..don’t ask me why.)

I started down this path because yesterday when she was helping me reorganize my closet to get ready for fall and winter, she happened to pick up one of my comfortable loafers. She held the right shoe up and peered at me through a hole in the sole.

Even with her eye framed in leather, I knew what she was about to say. “We’re going to shop for you a new pair of shoes before the holidays.”

I was more excited when I went for my recent colonoscopy.

Rick Watson is a columnist and author. His latest book Life Happens is available on You can contact him via email: