Read an Excerpt from The Consolation of the Shoes

MANOLO says, many years ago, when the young Manolo was sunk into despair over the dismal and impoverished conditions in which he had found himself, he sat down at the rickety table in his tiny garret, picked up his pen, and turned to his muses to help him write the few lines of baleful poetry commemorative of his state. As the tears of the Manolo spilled onto the paper, causing the lavender ink of his sorrowful verse to run, there appeared to him, as in a dream, the tall, majestic older woman clad in the finely tailored pink Chanel suit of the cut and style that was not of that season, nor the last, but of the previous generation.

In the right hand this regal woman carried the Hermes bag; in the left she brought illustrated books of the sort that appear on the finest coffee tables in this benighted land. Her countenance was kindly and wise, her upswept silvery hair bore the faint traces of the master coiffeur’s art, and upon her feets were the handsome and luxurious shoes made of the opulent leather and adorned with the tiny gems of the most costly type.

“Ayyyyy!” shouted the Manolo. “Who are you?”

She did not immediately answer, but seated herself at the end of the Manolo’s hard, narrow bed and placed her tastefully jeweled hand upon his shoulder.

I am Lady Fashion, my child.

“Ayyyyyyyy!” the Manolo again shouted, this time for joy, for in that instant the Manolo saw that it was true, that here in his chilly room was the personification of the deity whom the young Manolo worshipped with his entire being.

“O, Mistress of All Virtues,” asked the Manolo, the tears welling in his eyes, “why have you come down from the Fashion Heaven to visit this lonely place of banishment and sorrow?”

“I have come to bring solace,” She said, “to you who have begun to toil in my name.”

And with that, Lady Fashion then opened one of her books and pointed to the picture of the most beautiful shoes the Manolo had ever seen. At first glance, the Manolo was suffused with the intense feeling of well-being and happiness, as if the top of his head were being opened and pure grace poured in, filling him to the brim with contentment and joy.

“Do you see the shoes, my child? I wish you to attend to them closely, and to remember them, and to remember this simple and eternal verity: We shall always have the shoes.”

“Yes,” answered the Manolo, somewhat puzzled by this statement. “We shall always have the shoes. But what do you mean by this?”

“Just that, Manolo, we shall always have the shoes.” And then the Manolo woke up at his desk, covered in sweat and purple ink from the fountain pen still clutched in his right hand, but also now wondering about that which Lady Fashion had tried to impart to him in this most curious dream. What could she have meant by this statement, “We shall always have the shoes�” And what of those glorious shoes in the picture she had shown the Manolo? Although the afterglow of the dream still filled the Manolo with happiness, he found that he could not remember what the shoes had looked like. He could still recall the intense rightness he had felt when he had looked at the shoes, but he could not remember even whether they were for the man or the woman, or whether they had heels, or even whether they were the boots or the tennis shoes. Nothing remained with him but the emotions he had experienced and Lady Fashion’s cryptic statement.

So this was the philosophical conundrum, one upon which the youthful Manolo spent many long hours pondering as he went about the business of his life in the days and weeks that followed.

“We shall always have the shoes.” What did Lady Fashion mean? “We shall always have the shoes�”

In the first of the places, the Manolo was not convinced�


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