Saturday, April 11, 2009

Shoes, Chauvinism, and Sensibility

There are certain things in life that I know that I will never come to terms with, such as the resurgence in popularity of hip-hugger, bell bottomed jeans, paying $4.00 at the Greensboro Coliseum for a bottle of Diet Pepsi, and Carrot Top. Still, while I can’t come to terms with these things, I have to accept them for what they are and move on with my life. As a mother, I am compelled to pass this wisdom along to Jenda. I am teaching her that sometimes in life, we have to take the good with the bad. In fact, I am teaching her the Serenity Prayer…

‘God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change and the courage to change the things I cannot accept….’

Or something like that.

Anyway, back to those things I can’t accept. Besides the fact that I still can’t squeeze my fat ass into the Levi’s I wore in college, I guess my biggest issue is with hatred. In that I mean hatred directed towards others. While I am encouraged at the strides we have made, I am still rendered speechless by the racism and bigotry that I encounter. Really, in the 21st century, hatred still finds a home. It’s like some disgusting, scuttling cockroach hiding in dark, secret places, but showing itself nonetheless, feeding, scurrying along, spreading disease, and unfortunately, multiplying. And trust me, coming from South Florida, I really hate cockroaches. Of course, if you become friendly with some of the really big ones, they can help you move furniture. Anyway….

The sad thing is that we could stamp out the hatred pestilence if we would take time to really stop and listen to others, really look at them and see them. I think hatred is just a lack of education, or as I like to call it, stupidity. I get disgusted with people who refer to other races by saying, “they all look alike” or, “I don’t hate (Blacks, Asians, Hispanics, Gays, people with disabilities, whomever) but I sure don’t want them moving next door.” I spent many years on my soapbox, and I like to think that over the years, I have reached some people, but it becomes a matter of picking my battles carefully. Of course, being me, I don’t always pick the easiest ones, but I try to pick the ones that I can win or at least the ones where I can talk the other party into submission. I’m rather good at that.

I’m reminded of my husband Jerry asking me why I have so many pairs of brown shoes. This is a conversation that we have often, since I look at buying shoes as a form of retail therapy and it’s still cheaper than my co-pay. So Jerry asks, “Why the hell do you have so many brown shoes? And black shoes? And navy blue…?”

Well ding dang, they’re all different! I have loafers, pumps, moccasins, sandals, high heels, kitten heels and so on. They are all different styles, and they go with different things. For example, the loafers are great with jeans or business casual slacks. The sandals are for shorts. The boots are for wide leg pants, and---

“But Honey Bunny, let’s face it. They’re just shoes. Can’t you just have one pair of brown shoes to go with everything brown?”

Okay, how many pairs of khaki pants do you have?

“Well one has a flat front. The others are pleated, and one pair is carpenter pants and blah blah blah….”

For me that’s the crux of the matter. My shoes go with different outfits, and they suit me in different moods. They add something to my outfits, and they make me feel good about myself. (Well, except for those damn navy high heels from Aigner that look amazing but KILL my feet. Whatever.) Perhaps to some, it just looks like I am wearing whatever with brown shoes. Admittedly, some days, I feel that way myself. But the differences are there.

My task is to raise a child who sees not with the eyes, but with the heart and the mind. It probably won’t be an easy task, but she is turning into quite a little Diva so I am planning to try the shoe angle with her. Yes, there are bad people in this world. But the fact that their skin is a different color, or they weigh more or less than us, or they're gay or transgendered, or they’re differently-abled does not contribute to ‘badness.’ And where would it all end? Would we begin hating brunettes? Or fat people? Or in my case, God forbid, fat brunettes? I want to protect Jenda from hatred, in all its guises. I can show her what it looks like and how to avoid hurting other people. And the good news that it’s not hard to identify hatred.

It all looks alike to me.

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