There was a time in my life if I couldn’t afford to buy Stuart Weitzman, Sergio Rossi, Calvin Klein, Kate Spade or Via Spiga shoes, I wouldn’t buy anything at all. At that time Nine West came into being and was practical for my budget, but I have never been a practical shopper and prefer quality over quantity. It’s easy to spend money when you have it, but I made it an art to live like I had it when I didn’t. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t give in and kept my principles—you can skimp somewhere else but never on your feet.
This week I was in a department store buying cosmetics—and passed the shoe dept. You’re probably wondering what this has to do with writing. Hold on, I’m getting there. I breezed by and saw a pair of Nine West strappy high heel black suede sandals that were a knock-out. I consider the brand cheap; I’m not talking merely price but because they are made from hard, stiff synthetic materials. I have a high arch and good feet that rarely tire, but I like to stand and walk for great lengths of time, and I can, because I buy high quality shoes. I’m of the mind-set that a good pair of shoes you won’t feel and worth a financial sacrifice over physical pain. I didn’t stop to try the heels on, but there was something about them that took hold. I couldn’t stop thinking about them.
In a mist, later it came to me. In Berlin, having signed up for a two month dance class in beginner’s flamenco at the Centro be Baile with a red-headed Austrian teacher named Karin, who acted as a welcome committee for all the beginner dancers, she introduced students to teachers and to one another. Friendly, I thought; I liked her and admired her black strappy shoes. Turns out she married a Spaniard and thus began to dance and began her love of all things Español. On the battered wooden dance floor, I stood in the third row beside a shy German computer programmer and a two Dutch librarians who yearned to tap their inner fire. Behind us in the fourth row of dancers were a lithe Turkish office girl and Lola, a Yugoslavian transvestite a head taller than the other girls with shiny black hair and short flouncy skirts who already stoked the flames.
I went through the eight weeks—long enough to master a few steps and I mimicked the teacher with as much emotion as I could muster. At one point Karin commanded, (Austrians like Germans are fond of commands) that I hold my laughter, “like you just took a bite out of a lemon.” I held my head up, stiffened my spine and continued to attack the floor.
Have you ever taken a class and a fellow student turned out to be a sketch for a character study? Share your comments—I’d love to hear your stories.