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December 08, 2016
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Shoe man

He handed me a pair of socks, gesturing to my feet. Glancing down, surprised, I’d forgotten I was barefoot and my feet were filthy.

I sat as he laced up a pair of modern New Balance sneakers that looked completely out of place next to the rest of the handmade dress shoes.

Charles was excited by the fact that I’m an editor, and began telling me about all the people they’ve made shoes for over the years. He rattled off names—actors and filmmakers. “Remember that guy?” and “She was on that show.” Most of them I don’t recognize, but the way he talked about them and the few I did catch were impressive.

“I’ve got Marlene Dietrich’s shoes up there someplace,” he said, pointing to an older rack of used shoes. “Now, that’s Charlie Sheen,” he laughed wholeheartedly, “and you know what? He’s actually a sweet guy. But then I see him during the day when he’s trying on shoes, not late at night out on the town.” He laughed again.

Charles smoothly laced up the sneakers and slipped it over my foot, checking the size. He looked down at my other socked foot, rolled it around in his hands.

“You’ve got some bad feet, my friend.”

“Yeah,” I admit, “I know.”

“You should figure that out while you are young,” he said sagely, “They aren’t going to get better.” I nodded.

“And I’m not just telling you that so you come back for a pair of customs.”

He smiled, settling into salesman mode, it’s clear he’s a pro, but I don’t mind.

“I’m not above telling you that if you were to get a pair of our shoes, they’d fit your crazy looking feet like gloves. Think about it and come back sometime. I’ll give you a good deal.” He finished tying the lace and looked up at me. “How do those feel?”

Outside in my comfortable new sneakers I consider starting to save for an awesome pair of custom shoes. I think about how they’ll feel and look with a suit, and then I consider just how good a salesman Charles is.