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The Pick-Up Artist


My husband, Oregano, has been good humored about being the subject of many of my blog posts. When he came to me with the idea that he wanted to write a post about me, I shuddered. He wouldn’t tell me the topic and said I couldn’t see the post until after he had written it. Only then would he allow me to have restrained editorial jurisdiction. Under those terms, I anxiously agreed. Each night for a week he sat secretively tapping away at his laptop. Turn about is fair play and now it is his turn…

As everyone knows, women love shoes.  I’ve been told that part of the appeal is that shoes always fit, no matter what your body type is.  This is a huge benefit for women who have trouble finding clothes that fit properly (that is any woman who has hips bigger than every contestant on “America’s Next Top Model”).  Shoes have standard sizes.  If you’re a size 6, you can be reasonably sure that every size 6 shoe will fit you properly.  Ordering shoes online is a snap.  This is certainly not true of women’s clothing.  You might have a general idea of your size, but buying something you haven’t tried on is about as sensible as ordering the “extra spicy” dinner at your favorite Thai restaurant.

Shoes for women come in a mind-boggling array of styles with odd names like mules, pumps, sling-backs and Mary Janes.  Designers like Jimmy Choo and Christian Louboutin specialize in high-end, high heels and have cult-like followings. Shoes can be fun, too! They come in outlandish colors and patterns.  With all of these exciting options, most women are powerless to resist the lure of a fun, new pair of shoes. 

Most men, on the other hand, do not wear shoes like this. I have never worn, nor have I ever seen any man wearing dress shoes that were any color other than the traditional black, brown, or burgundy.  The exception to this is men over 80 living in Florida who favor the white dress shoe. Men aren’t fixated on shoe styles or designers. Until recently, I thought Manolo Blahnik was a midfielder for Spain’s soccer team.  I go shoe shopping once a year, and would probably never go if my wife could buy them without my feet being present. Since I need to make sure my shoes fit properly, I reluctantly make my annual trip to DSW to prance around the aisles in new shoe prospects.

Due to the huge gender gap of shoe styles and colors, it should come as no surprise that women tend to keep a much larger quantity of shoes than men do.  Stories have been told on the news of women with unbelievably huge shoe collections. Women and their love of shoes have been immortalized on television shows and movies, like Sex and the City.  Celebrities have had opulent closets built to house nothing but shoes.  Some have even run out of room for shoes in their mansions.  Even female political leaders are not immune to the draw of the almighty shoe.  Imelda Marcos may be more famous for her shoe collection than for her political career. 

Paprika is not as bad as "shoe lady", Darlene Flynn, the Guiness World Record holder for the most shoes and shoe paraphernalia: a whopping 7,765 items.

It’s safe to say that women have more shoes (and more expensive shoes) than men in most heterosexual relationships, and this is true of my relationship with Paprika.  During the early years of our marriage, Paprika’s shoe collection was fairly large – maybe 80 pairs.  This may seem like a small number to some readers, but considering I only have 8 pairs of shoes, including sneakers, it’s a huge number from my perspective. 

Soon after we were married, I noticed an annoying interesting habit that Paprika had with her shoes; she would leave her shoes on the floor of whatever room she was in during the shoe removal process.  Certain types of shoes, like sandals that she can slide on and off easily, were often left in the exact position where she stepped out of them, with one shoe in front of the other.  This has the eerie resemblance to someone in mid-stride being abducted by aliens. This was amusing at first, but I soon found myself tripping over an errant shoe on a daily basis.  I also found myself with a new job title: the pick-up artist.

Abducted by aliens or a bad habit? Sometimes I wish it was aliens.

When the deserted shoes begin to proliferate, I feel the need to collect them from around the house.  This usually immediately follows my ungraceful, expletive filled journey across a room.  I didn’t know what to do with all of these shoes that I had picked up, but I did know what I wanted to do with them. I decided to arrange the shoes in an orderly fashion by lining them all up along a wall near the closet, in pairs, out-of-the-way from prime tripping areas.  I thought Paprika might take the hint, but no.

As the years progressed, my poor Paprika developed plantar fascitis causing severe pain in her arches and heels.  Her shoe wearing options became greatly reduced because she was limited to shoes that could be worn with orthotics.  Wearing heels higher than one inch was strictly forbidden.  One by one, Paprika’s shoe collection dwindled and it is now approximately 50 pairs.  Although this is a more manageable number of shoes, keeping them in their proper place is still a challenge that is not often accomplished.   There always seems to be a pair left in a room where I will trip over them. For now, I continue my good works as the pick-up artist.

All in a day's work as the pick-up artist.

Aside from my daily shoe collecting responsibilities, I am occasionally called upon as fashion consultant in a little game Paprika refers to as “Which Shoes Would you Choose?” During this quick game Paprika comes downstairs dressed for work wearing a different shoe on each foot while holding its twin in each hand. In her best game show announcer voice she says, “Which shoes would you choose?” and then stands on one leg for a minute so I can get the full effect of the outfit without the distraction of the other shoe. After I look, she switches legs and I tell her which shoe goes better with her outfit. Sometimes she takes my fashion advice and sometimes she doesn’t. Perhaps if she had fewer shoes to choose from, I would be spared from playing this game several times each week.

The only thing worse than my disdain for Paprika’s scattered shoes and giving shoe related fashion advice, is being recruited to help her during the semi-annual shoe swap every April and September.  This process involves putting away the shoes that are no longer appropriate for the season, and swapping them with seasonally appropriate footwear.  The out of season shoes are kept in boxes on the upper shelves of our closet, so I get to hand the boxes down, wait for her to make the switch then put them back up.  Oh, joy!

Years of my subtle and not so subtle suggestions have not yielded favorable results. Paprika still does not put her shoes away, but I really have no right to complain.  Despite only having a few pairs myself, I don’t put my shoes away either.  Why bother?  I’m just going to have to take them out again anyway, right?  OK, so it looks like the shoe is on the other foot now.  Besides, I must admit that in recent years, Paprika has been doing a much better job of putting her shoes away. One might say she is making great strides in overcoming her little problem.

Paprika had to sleep in shoes like these as a toddler. Maybe that is the origin of her craving for fun shoes.

About Paprika Furstenburg

I was born with an overly developed sense of humor and poor coordination. The combination of these two character traits has taught me humility and given me the perspective to find the funny in everyday experiences.

41 responses »

  1. Did Oregano PUMP you for information when he decided to STEP into your blog domain? Although I got a KICK out of his story, may I humbly suggest that he REBOOT the computer and write a blog of his own?

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  3. Ah, I loved this – Kudos to Oregano! 🙂

    Oh random fact, I vacuum my shoes – yes, you’ve read correctly some of my satin high-heels tend to collect a bit of dust even if stored away correctly and through multiple failed experieces, I’ve found out that the best way to get them back to “shine” is to vacuum the carefully. 🙂

    • I’d like to thank you for coming clean (couldn’t resist the pun – sorry) about vacuuming your shoes. Not many people would admit that they do that.

      I’ll pass your compliments along to Oregano. I’m sure he’ll be thrilled to know he has a growing fan club.

  4. Really enjoyed this blog. Oregano did a great job with this! I didn’t know he had it in him. 😉

  5. Has Oregano written any more guest posts on your blog, Paprika? Please add links! He’s fantastic! I love the style of writing and the humour! 🙂

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  7. Thank you for letting me contribute to your successful blog. I’m glad that everyone enjoyed the story.

  8. Am enjoying your blog. Say hello to Oregano for N&J…and a special hello to Rosemary and Thyme…

  9. My husband used to put my shoes up on the door jam…..very inconvenient @ 5’1″!

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  11. Like it:)

  12. Only fair… and very funny to boot! (pun intended). Good work Oregano, and very gracious of you Paprika.

  13. Paprika, I had no idea!! Oregano, you must continue the blog. Loved it!

  14. Chuckles! Mr. Oregano I think you should have a chat with my husband because he feels the exact same way. However, I love my shoes and it is comforting to know there is always a nice pair close by 😉

  15. It’s still healthier to swap shoes than to swap spouses!

  16. Isn’t the song “shoes (boots) are made for walking” a good explanation for this phenomena?

  17. It is a wrong assumption to believe that shoes are easier to buy than clothes. Sometimes I believe we have more shoes because very few are truly comfortable and by the way, 80 pair is like almost nothing! The poor girl needs mores shoes!

  18. My Oregano!! What a great illustration, but eerily familiar in this household!! Wonderful writing! Bravo!! LOL!!

  19. Great Job Oregano! However I don’t see the problem with 50 pairs of shoes. Poor Paprika! She will probably need some shoe shopping therapy soon!

  20. You two are definitely not loafers when it comes to cleverly putting your thoughts into words. Enjoyed this!!

  21. Loved it, Oregano!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  22. *Shudder*
    Women and their shoes…


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