The Yellow Shoes
A.M. ReitlingerIt all didn’t start really promising. It wasn’t one of these life-changing moments where, upon beholding a man or woman, you instantaneously think ‘this is the person I am going to marry.’
What I initially beheld upon meeting my future fiancé was a pathetic, hunched down heap of misery perching on a chair, obviously wasted beyond any remedy. The guy who had invited me introduced everybody who was still conscious and lastly said ‘and this pile of drunken sadness is Jake.’ Little did I know that this was the first description ever given to me about my future fiancé, and, in retrospect, it is rather a miracle how it all fell into place eventually.
As the evening proceeded, Jake remained oblivious for the most part of it, however, one of the other guys desperately wanted to fix me up with a different man, who, ironically, was one of Jake’s best friends at that time. Thankfully, and oh how thankful I am, he didn’t seem particularly interested and so I was still painfully eligible when the wee hours took over and Jake slowly resurfaced – only to immediately insult me in our first conversation ever.
‘What do you think of the events tonight?’ he asked with a mischievous grin, a lopsided football helmet on his head. He poked an old microphone into my face – hell knew where he had got that from…
‘Er’, I stuttered. ‘I guess it’s a good party, right?’
He rolled his eyes at me, his gaze blurry, and shook his head vigorously. ‘No, I mean the sports event, dimwit.’
Only now I realised the microphone was of some sports channel and he was apparently having an imaginative event planned out in his head and was pestering people with his broadcast. I decided to flee the scene, but he kept following me like a loyal puppy, his glance of displayed annoyance changing to one of curiosity. As I sat down on the carpet, he settled opposite me, looking at me as if he had never seen a woman before.
I cannot recall anymore what exactly we talked about, but I remember him starting to rub my calves at some point, which, knowing him now as one of the shyest people of all time, strikes me as rather daring and odd, but hey, he was pretty wasted and alcohol is supposed to lower inhibitions, right?
Considering our poor start, we soon found ourselves ensconced on the sofa, tongue-tangoing as if there was no tomorrow, and we didn’t even stop when the police stopped by because someone had stepped on the roof and neighbours had called them in with the suspicious of a thief seizing an opportunity. I still blush when I think what the officers must have thought upon stepping into the room: a bunch of drunkards, two of them really hitting it off on the sofa behind, oblivious to law enforcement.
When the morning was dawning on all of us and we deemed it time to go home, Jake asked for my number and I almost declined, for which there were various reasons. First of all, I had just graduated from school and was looking forward to a lavish time of sleeping around and having a long line of admirers (Jake was the second man I kissed after I graduated, so my plans weren’t really all that successful, were they?). And secondly, there were the yellow shoes.
Who would have thought that the success or failure of a fantastic relationship could be tied to the banalities of yellow footwear? Jake was sporting yellow sneakers, which I considered to be simply horrible. Obviously, I shouldn’t have been superficial, but a little mean voice kept creeping up, saying ‘are you seriously going to date a man with yellow shoes? What will people say?’ In retrospect I blush upon having had such ridiculous thoughts, but it is the miracle of peer-pressure which, at the age of nineteen, sadly still had its firm grip on me. Due to his inebriated state, however, Jake was rather insistent and so I caved and issued my number eventually, expecting to never hear from him again anyway, and that would be it.
A few days later, I was standing in the grocery store with my mother, piling up food into our cart, when my phone pinged.
Hi, this is Jake. Remember me? Was just thinking of you and thought we could meet in town sometime?
Completely awestruck, I looked at the message for a minute or two, pondering if I should really take it to the next level (I couldn’t forget about the yellow shoes). He seemed so young and I wanted to date older guys and the yellow shoes…
Hi, sure I remember…What do you have in mind?
Minutes passed by while I was putting eggs, milk and cheese into the cart, my mother scuttling around me, when, finally, my phone vibrated once more.
Can I take you out to the movies?
I caught myself smiling. Sure, he was my age and not a mature man with a car, but he had texted, which was a quality hard to get in a man it seemed, and so I decided to give it a shot because, who knew, probably there was a wonderful man behind these yellow shoes. A man who would cook for me, make me laugh, rock me when I wept, listen to my insane short stories as well as read my lengthy novels, or buy me a beautiful ring. Maybe – maybe – he would turn out to be a man who would go on road trips with me, watch movies, endure my Christmas mania and not only understand but cherish my quirks and craziness which sometimes kicked in when life got rather overwhelming – maybe. Who knew, maybe he would become the man I would marry one day. You could never know, and a pair of yellow shoes shouldn’t keep you from finding out, so I wrote
Sure. Looking forward to it!
And the rest, as they say, is history.
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