Ellen pushed her hair behind her ears and her sunglasses up on her nose as she bounced into the kitchen where her mother sat squinting and leaning in close to watch her soap operas on the ancient little black and white TV that sat on the counter.
“Maryanne’s here Mom. We’re going to the beach to hang out for my birthday. I’ll be back before five so you and me and Katie can go eat.”
“Where are we going to eat?” her mother asked.
“I want to go to Laramie’s downtown and have a big steak. You and Dad used to take me there for my birthday all the time. If we tell them it’s my birthday they’ll bring a cupcake with a candle and the whole place will sing Happy Birthday to me. I have a new pair of Prada Espadrilles that I want to wear.”
Mom said nothing; she merely nodded her head and reached to the chair next to her, producing a brightly wrapped package that she held out to Ellen, “Happy Birthday Girl.”
“Thanks, Mom,” Ellen said and plopped down in a chair to rip the paper unceremoniously from the box. Inside, nestled in tissue paper were shoes. They were plain shoes. Brown leather flats without any adornment at all, but they were soft and supple. They would probably have been comfortable if Ellen were to put them on, but she would never do that. Ellen only wore designer shoes. She wore Jimmy Choo’s, Michael Kors’, or Manolo’s. She even had a pair of Louboutin’s that she had saved over a year to be able to buy. Those were almost too pretty to wear. Outside of the house, she had worn them only once, and she had bought them almost two years ago.
Mom launched into her monologue, “You’re fifty years old now Ellen and I think it’s time for you to start wearing sensible shoes. I was just like you when I was young. I had a shoe fetish that drove me. My mother was the same way. The shoes you hold in your hand are the sensible shoes my mom gave me when I turned fifty. Now I’m giving them to you. That pair of shoes is an heirloom.”
“No way, Mom. These can’t be the shoes Grandma gave you. These are brand new. Maybe these are like the ones that she gave you?”
“Nope, these are the very ones. I never wore them. I thought they were ugly and I refused to. So I saved them for you.”
“You shouldn’t have, Mom.”
“Oh it was no trouble. I was happy to do it. I just shoved them in the back of my closet and forgot about them for a long time. Feel how soft those uppers are?”
“No, Mom, I really mean you shouldn’t have. I’ll never wear these! They’re hideous. I mean, they are soft and look comfortable but they are ‘butt ugly’. There are more important things to think about when choosing shoes than comfort. Jeeze!”
“Yeah, I figured you’d react like this,” Mom said. Throw them in the back of your closet and give them to Katie when she turns fifty. You never know, she might like ‘em. Besides That’s about all I have to leave you. Over the years I’ve spent most of my money on shoes! There isn’t much else.”