N.B. Psychologists have proven what we already know, shoes tell us much about the wearer…
The Daltord from Robert Clergerie, $595.
Manolo says, it is not easy being the assistant general counsel for the major, Fortune 500, consumer goods corporation, but after several years of clawing your way upward, working 80-hour weeks, and cutting the throats of your competitors and yes, occasionally, your friends, you have achieved just that.
All you have to do now is wait for the general counsel–the genial dunderhead with the 4 handicap and the 28-year-old trophy wife–to mess up, and his job is yours. And you deserve it, too, having sacrificed your first marriage on the altar of your ambition, opening its chest as if you were the Aztec priestess armed with the ragged obsidian knife.
But, whatever, right? It was worth it. You have no regrets. None… Not one.
Yes, occasionally, at night, while you are waiting for the Ambien to kick in, you think about what it was like when you were eleven. About your mother, mostly.
There is this recurring image of her standing at the kitchen sink, slicing tomatoes for the dinner salad. She is humming. You do not even know what the song is, but you know it sounds happy, because your mother, for all of her many faults, always seemed happy, bustling around the house, or playing tennis, helping at the church, going to the garden club.
She should have been miserable, five children in seven years, with your father only making the civil engineer’s salary. But she wasn’t. Not even when the breast cancer was eating away at her. Instead, she was still writing you these chipper letters talking about how poorly her azaleas were doing, and how she was going to give this yellow Hermés scarf that never suited her to the church’s spring jumble sale. She was only three years older than you are now.
Jan is just like her, with her four boys, her petty hobbies– crocheting!–and her rented summer cottage at Cape May. She and Mac have been together 29 years now, married for 26 of them.
You keep trying to get them to come spend the week or two at your place in Paris. It’s not much, just the two-bedroom flat on the third floor of the nondescript building, but the location is spectacular, in the 7e arrondissement just the short distance to the Rue Cler. (You bought these shoes at the Clergerie shop on the Champs-Élysées, which isn’t too far away.)
You should just send them the plane tickets. Get Pat, their oldest, to help you arrange it. Make it the surprise for them, something romantic. You can be there for the couple of days, and then let them have the place to themselves for the rest of the week.
And thinking of this, of your sister Jan and her stolid husband in Paris, actually makes you happy, which reminds you of something else your mother used to say, something you have always regarded as ridiculous, to wit: “The best way to cure insomnia is to help other people.”
Maybe there is something to that.1