The Big Question

A couple weeks ago, my new boyfriend asked me … if not THE dreaded question, at least A dreaded question.

I wasn’t surprised. In fact, I’d been expecting it.

A lives in New York, so we do most of our talking on video chat. I watched as he leaned back in his desk chair and folded his hands behind his head.

“Honey?” he began.

“Yes…” I sensed something big was coming.

“How many pairs of shoes do you have?”

I hesitated. Now, A is no monk. He likes his gadgets, especially if they have to do with Macs, or making stir fry. He even appreciates a well-chosen piece of clothing now and then. But he also aspires to a, shall we say, more spare lifestyle than I do. On a scale of 1 to 10 — 1 being Ghandi with his little glasses, 10 being Paris Hilton and her shopping bags– well, one of us wears cute little glasses.

“What do you mean?” I asked, stalling for time.

“How many pairs of shoes do you have?”

“Hello?” I mustered up as much indignation as I could. ” It’s not like I sit around counting my shoes all day!”

He laughed. “Just guess– how many do you think you have?”

I’d actually given this general topic a lot of thought. I mean, I don’t want to pretend I’m someone that I’m not. However, let’s be honest. There are some things I’d like to hide a little longer.  I mean, does A HAVE to know that I’ve already marked the Nordstrom’s half-yearly sale in my calendar (Pssst, it’s Wednesday, May 20th) ?  Does he really need to know just yet that What Not to Wear is  in my top three all-time fave TV shows? I mean, why can’t I tell him how many books I own, instead of how many shoes?

I want this relationship to work, and I want it badly. I want it more than I wanted a Benetton sweatshirt for Hannukah in 8th grade, and that’s saying a lot.

“What do you mean by shoes? I mean, are you counting salsa-dancing shoes? Because I don’t think you should count salsa-dancing shoes. Those are just for dancing. You’re not even supposed to wear them on the sidewalk.”

“Okay, no salsa shoes.”

“And come to think of it, I shouldn’t have to count my black and white striped flip flops, or my sequin flip flops, or my patent-leather black sandals, or the wedge sandals with the flowers– because I can’t even wear them now. I mean, there’s a foot of snow on the ground! They’re not even in the rotation!”

I continued. “And, if you think about it, I shouldn’t have to count my dressy black high heels. I mean, I HAD to buy those to wear to a wedding. I didn’t WANT to buy them.  And I hardly ever get the chance to wear them. It’s not like I could put those in the rotation every day either.”

“Okay…”

“AND while we’re on the topic, do I have to count shoes I’ve been meaning to donate to the Aids Action thrift store? Technically, I HAVE them. But that doesn’t mean I WEAR them.

“Okay. So, no dance shoes, weather-related foot gear, or dressy high heels” Asaid. “No shoes in the donation pile. Not counting those, how many pairs of shoes do you think you have? A dozen? Two dozen?”

I thought of the two shoe bags hanging in the back of my closet, each with room for 20 pairs of shoes. Recently, I’d begun to double up, sticking two pairs of flats in one narrow slot. And that wasn’t counting the shoe rack in my living room closet, or the  leather boots paired against the wall in my bedroom.

I smiled into the webcam.

“You know what?” I promised. “On your next visit, you’re welcome to go into my closets and count every last pair.”

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