Elvis’s first single was “Heartbreak Hotel.” The first track on his first studio album was “Blue Suede Shoes.” This cannot possibly be a coincidence. Elvis clearly knew that when you purchase a pair of suede shoes you might as well book yourself an overnight stay at the Heartbreak Hotel. Why else would he have so enthusiastically adopted the lyrics to Carl Perkins’s hit, immortalizing forever the warning, “Don’t you step on my blue suede shoes.”
The Shoes of the Blue Suede, belonging to The King
It’s possible that somewhere, some tormented graduate student has worked up an analysis of the lyrics of “Blue Suede Shoes” and argued that the song is, at heart, not so much a warning about the shoes as it is about protecting the singer’s masculinity, or identity, or coolness. That graduate student has obviously never owned a pair of suede shoes.
My mother had a pair. They were lovely. Black suede pumps with a scalloped edging and a delicately curved high heel that was at least an inch higher than the shoes she wore for work. We knew they were special because she kept them in a box on the highest shelf of her closet and, unlike every other pair of shoes she owned, we were never allowed to try them on.
Naturally, I conceived an instant desire for suede shoes of my very own.
I have them now. In fact, I have several pairs of suede shoes. I even have a pair of blue suede shoes. (And honey, stay offa my shoes!) And here is what I have learned, despite eschewing the temptations offered by a pair of pale pink suede Betsey Johnson Mary Janes with 5 inch heels in favor of the far more practical black suede Betsey Johnson Mary Janes with 5 inch heels:
1. You cannot wear suede shoes in the summer. Fashion crime.
2. You cannot wear suede shoes in the spring. Marginally less significant fashion crime. Also, it’s going to rain.
3. You probably should not wear suede in the fall. It’s going to rain. All month. And next month too.
4. You dare not wear suede in the winter. It’s going to rain. And snow. And also sleet. And there will be road salt. Also de-icing chemicals.
Suede shoes—at least for those of us poor mortals who live in the Midwest and must trip the light fantastic toe through separate and equally inclement seasons—can never be worn at all.
And if that does not break the hearts of the friends of the Manolo, I cannot think that they have any hearts at all.