“So who is this friend?” Daisy keeps eyeing me skeptically with her sea green eyes, like buying shoes isn’t something she thinks I would do. Is it? I’m never sure of myself these days.
I’ve just been explaining to her that I’m buying a pair of high heels for a girl as a way of asking her to the Valentine’s Day Dance.
“A friend…” I trail off, glancing around like it’s some secret I don’t want any passersby knowing, and add, “A special friend.”
“I didn’t know you had a special friend.”
“Well, I have lots of friends you don’t know about.” I say without looking at her. “I just haven’t mentioned her before.”
“Okay,” she says. Is it just me, or is that a tinge of disappointment in her voice? “What kind of heels are we looking for, then?”
We’re standing in front of an aisle brimming with high heels of every shape, style, or color you could possibly imagine. I breathe in. I like the smell of this shoe store: a mix of leather, rubber, and a hint of Windex. New shoes always have a fantastic scent, fresh and clean-soled and brightly colored, waiting to be worn and loved.
I like to think of myself as a fashionable guy; as much as that’s true, I usually stick with my Converse.
What do girls like in shoes? I haven’t got a clue. Shoes, shoes… I’m not one for shoes. Maybe I should just get her Converse for the dance. Is that appropriate? I’m lost.
“You don’t know what she’s gonna wear, do you?”
“What? Uh… no,”
“Well then you should get a neutral color, like black. Black goes with everything.”
“I’m not gonna pick out your shoe for you. It’s your date. I’m gonna go look at Converse.” She walked off.
How could she abandon me to the wrath of the girly shoes?
I sigh. Now, let’s see, what would she like to wear…
Something not too girly, but I’m pretty sure she likes to be a bit fancy when the time is right. Not anything boring or plain. Simple, perhaps. Simple and… cute. I glance over at Daisy. She’s a few aisles down, admiring a pair of plain purple Converse. I look back at the array of shoes before me. Black, black, black… I see a pair of glittery black ones. No, too fancy. Lacy? No, too girly.
All at once I see a pair… perfect. I pick them up. They’re black with four-inch heels of medium thickness, and a bow to tie around the ankle. I take one more look at Daisy, pick them up, and walk over to her.
“These?” I ask hesitantly, holding up the heels.
“Yes!” She exclaims, grabbing them in adoration. “I would wear these! Lucky girl,” she winks at me.
I try not to smile, but my face has a different plan.
We approach the cashier, a man with a parrot sitting on his shoulder. “His name’s Rochester,” the cashier explains, noticing our interest. Rochester is repeatedly squawking the phrases “Come along, Pond,” and “Bowties are cool.”
Well, I can’t disagree with that.
I buy the shoes, say goodbye to Rochester, and Daisy and I leave. I hold open the door. She steps through, and I skip alongside her.
“Such a gentleman, as always,” she feigns a look of admiration, and I adjust an invisible bowtie. She laughs; something inside me soars at the sound.
I wish she would look happy more often.
As we walk to her house, I twitch nervously, my heartbeat racing in my ears. She doesn’t seem to notice, chattering away about parrots. She does love birds, doesn’t she?
When we get to her house, she starts to leave, but I grab her arm. “Wait…” I say. She peers at me curiously.
What am I doing?
Before I can stop myself, I shove the shoes into her arms, shopping bag and all. “They’re for you,” I say.
Not just stops walking, I mean it’s like she’s turned into a statue. She stands completely still, looking at me. “You mean… you want me to go…”
“To the dance.” I clear my throat. “With me.”
She suddenly has her arms around me, squeaking unintelligible sounds into my ear.
I hug her back, and smile into her shoulder.
“I’ll take that as a yes, then.”