It’s All About The Slippers

Mar 31

pat_slippers.jpgI wanted to call this “The Case of The Really Stupid Slippers,” but I am haunted by the ghost of my nitpicking editor who would have told me that the slippers themselves couldn’t be stupid, but me for choosing them, so the title would be inaccurate, misleading, and inappropriate. But I’ve worked on a lot of mysteries (I’ll tell you about Nancy Drew some day), and I love “The Case of” titles. Besides, being appropriate isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

The mystery of the stupid slippers is that I don’t like them much and yet I wear them constantly — even though I have a similar but vastly superior pair sitting in a box in my closet.  (Pictured here.) Why would I do this? I’ve heard of closet cases, but this is ridiculous! We may have to call in Dr. Wong from Law & Order on this.

To complicate the case, the slippers in the box are the exact duplicates of slippers I wore out after two years. I mean, really wore out  — holes-in-the-soles worn out — because I, er, slipped into them every chance I got. So if I liked them so much, why not just get another pair? Problem is, they not only don’t make ’em like they used to, they don’t make them, period. Call them irreplaceable. Call me inconsolable. Call me a piano player and we’ll have a song parody here . . .

But meanwhile, let me say that I didn’t even like the Irreplaceable Ones at first. I thought they were a little too, oh, I don’t know, formal, like the velvet shoes men wear with tuxedos. They were black velvet, from Jacques Levine, with a gold emblem on the top, and even though they said size seven, they fit my size six and a half narrow feet like a glove, if the glove was made for feet and was called a slipper. After a few wearings, I was in love.

So I went back to the store where I had half-heartedly bought them in the first place, and now, with great enthusiasm, bought another pair. Looking back, I should have bought two, or three, or four, or however many I might need for the rest of my life. Which, figuring one pair every two years, is: none of your business. But I was naïve then, and believed I could always get more.

I should have known this wouldn’t work. I am a person Born Not to Shop, but to get exactly what I want and nothing less. I buy the same basic thing over and over until I either move on or they stop making it. Usually, it’s the latter.

My first memory of this was another mystery: nobody could figure out why Revlon discontinued Fire Engine Red lipstick. We all wore it! But I was very, very young then, and not only got over it, but turned to coral shades, which were more flattering anyway: I will go postal now if Estee Lauder discontinues “Frosted Apricot,” as some cruel fool rumored it would. By the way, it’s been scientifically proven, by me and others, that red lipstick makes you look older. Now that’s okay if you’re Blair Waldorf on Gossip Girl (more about GG coming soon). But when one actress (who wishes to remain anonymous) had to age fifty years during the course of a mini-series about Queen Elizabeth I, she reported that the makeup people did this largely by darkening the shade of her lipstick a little more for each episode. Of course, the fake wrinkles and the wigs helped too, but still. I will wear Frosted Apricot until I die, or until they stop making it.

Why do they always stop making the things you love the most?

Strange to say, this even happens to men, with underwear and socks. But mostly to women, with makeup and shoes. A recent case: just today, someone lusted over my short red boots, one of the first collaborations of Cole Haan and Air Nike, that are the absolute perfect casual footwear in so many ways it’s hard to sum it up. But of course I will: cute and comfortable. They were even on sale! They are, however, red, and when I discovered how wonderful they were, I rushed back to Saks to get another pair, in black, I hoped, so they would go with absolutely everything, and in any and every color they might have. Of course, they were all gone and no one knew nothin’ about their fate. I checked with Cole Haan and Nike, no luck. Meanwhile, the slippers, strangely, continued to bother me more.

After figuring out that the Ones I Loved, of which I now had, in the manner of Princess Di, a pair and a spare, were no longer made by Jacques Levine, and were not available anywhere online (oh lord, there’s probably a pair languishing out there in some dusty storeroom or even someone’s closet, and that thought is exquisite agony, like an itch just out of reach), I started searching for Something Close. Then, in a moment of madness, I actually threw away the first pair (I left them in a hotel in Seattle, because they really had to go, and if I dumped them out there, I wouldn’t be able go back and retrieve them the way I sometimes do when I ask my doorman to dig up things from the garbage bin that I pretend to have “thrown out by mistake.”)

So now, down to one pair, I began to wear them ceaselessly while I promised myself to search for a replacement. After a year of procrastination (Hey, the slippers were still not in tatters), I finally went online in the middle of the night and found something! They were black, they were velvet, they were size seven, they were from Jacques Levine, and they were trimmed with gold. Cute little gold bows. Perfect! Or so it seemed. And yet, when they arrived, my heart sank. The gold is not shiny gold, but more of a muted beigey dull kind of gold. What good is gold if it’s not shiny, I say.  And the bows, while they try, they really do, they’re not the same as the lovely lustrous medallions of the original. So close.
So why do I wear them, these not-so-great pretenders, and not the nicer spares that sit in the slipper box. (They also serve who only sit and wait.) Well, I had worn those spares for a year already, and I figure that gives them another year of life, so if I save them and wear the ones with the bows (which are also very comfortable), that gives me time to  find something great that will make me forget my first love, the originals. I fear that it is too much to hope for to find another pair of the originals. Or is it? I’ve tried E-bay and everything else I can think of already, including talking to the universe. (See the post, Yo Universe!) But maybe someone reading this can help? Please!

The real mystery, of course, is: How stupid is this? Forget for a minute  the obvious question of why we obsess about things like this at all. Dr. Wong, can you make a house call? They are, after all, (sorry about this) house slippers. But why would I keep wearing these things, twice a day and more on weekends, that are a constant reminder, every time I look down — that you can’t always get what you want. (I know you’re out there, Mick Jagger, I can hear you snorting.)

And yet. If I wear the originals, a year-old now with only a year to go, they would become more fragile by the day, and that would be a nagging reminder of something worse —that you lose things you love that you can’t get back. Like your youth. Or like what June Christy is singing about in  Baby, Baby All the Time, the one that got away. So sad. Almost as haunting as Frank Sinatra’s In the Wee Small Hours, which you may know is all about Ava Gardner, the love he lost. Worse than slippers! Worse than anything.

In the end, I think I’m actually doing the right thing. Listening to Christy (Get her album, Something Cool, immediately, if you don’t already have it), Sinatra, and just to keep myself in this century, Rod Stewart, wearing the old ones (So maybe, Mick, I got what I need. . .), while saving the sacred spares in their pristine box and waiting for my slippers to come in.

Maybe I’ll write a letter to Jacques Levine. Maybe Jacques Levine is an actual person. Stuart Weitzman is. I know, for a fact, because I talked to him in person about another problem with shoes — the silver ones for my wedding. But that’s another story.

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