I went shopping with my daughter who shall remain unnamed (but who just happens to have the same initials as me), and she talked me into buying a pair of TOMS (or maybe I just decided to buy them without her encouragement—anyway, she was with me). Now for those of you who don’t know, TOMS are little canvas shoes that look like this:
I thought TOMS would be a great addition to my wardrobe because I really don’t like to wear shoes at all—I am a flip flop girl—and TOMS seemed like a more socially acceptable winter-appropriate option. But here’s the deal with TOMS: you must buy them a little small because they stretch to fit your foot—being canvas and all. For most TOMS wearers, this is probably a minor inconvenience—wear them a day or so to stretch them, and wala! they feel like a second skin. But for me, it proved to be a contest in endurance. You see, my right foot is a full size larger than my left, and normally, this doesn’t present a problem; I just buy the shoes to fit the bigger foot. So after I tried on several different size TOMS…and after the sales guy said they should be pretty snug…and after my daughter told me that I didn’t want them to be too big so I should get them to fit the smaller foot…I settled on a very small-looking ash gray pair in a size 8.
Even before I exited the mall, I was walking unnaturally because though my left foot was happily swaddled, my right foot was not able to extend fully, and I felt like my big toe might make a hole where the cute little crease started in the front. But since the salesman assured me they would stretch, I kept on walking, and wincing, my way through the day. That was Saturday. I forced myself to wear them until I went to bed that night even though I was beginning to have shooting nerve pain up the back of my leg because of the pressure on my heel.
He said they would stretch.
Enter Sunday. Ok, so I thought these teeny tiny shoes were so cute that I decided to wear them to church…because I figured the more I wore them, the more they would stretch…and then they would be perfect. So, after putting a band-aid on the developing blister on my heel, I stuffed my feet into them hoping not to bust them open. They seemed just as tight—maybe tighter?—than on Saturday, but doggone-it, he said they would stretch, so, walking in little choppy steps, I made my painful way into church where I got to sit during the service—but I didn’t take my shoes off because I was stretching them. After the service, I taught Sunday school and tried to stand especially still while talking about Jael pounding the tent peg through Sisera’s skull (great upbeat lessons lately, huh?), and even though pain was coursing through my feet, I forced myself to keep the shoes on. Do you know how hard it is to concentrate when your toes are jammed together in a bunch and your foot cannot fully flatten? It gave a me a real heart for the old Chinese women whose feet were bound tightly. It was said they did this because Chinese men liked dainty feet. Well, I’m not Chinese, and I wasn’t feeling very dainty at that moment, and Brent doesn’t really have a thing for tiny feet, but I thought that suffering must be part of the process, so I was going to hang in there, dang it! He said they would stretch!!!! I even had a party at my house that night, and after figuring out how to walk more naturally by striking my heel down first, I convinced myself that they were finally stretching. I would have cute comfy shoes by morning!
Monday. On Monday, the shoes still seemed a
little lot tight, but I thought maybe my feet were a little swollen because I had forced myself to wear my TOMS all weekend…because He said they would stretch. And, upon forcing them on gently over my band-aided heel and across the big toe that was developing an ingrown toenail, I decided that this would be my last day of experimentation. If, by tomorrow, the blasted shoes did not feel amazing, I would return them for a larger size. Mostly I just stayed home Monday, but I will let you know, I made myself wear the shoes because I did not want them to win. I was in charge here. And no matter how socially conscious the stupid TOMS were, they WERE GOING TO GET BIGGER!
Tuesday. Feeling cheated and wanting to try just one more day to stretch my TOMS, I gingerly worked them onto my damaged feet trying not to rip my band-aids off in the process. But most of the morning, I just felt depressed and unmotivated because my feet hurt so badly. I wished I could just sleep—with the shoes on of course—to escape, but I had things I had to get done—things which required me to be on my feet—so I came up with the genius idea of wearing thick socks with my TOMS to quicken the stretching process. Now, here’s the deal: If you are wearing shoes about two sizes too small and you put on a thick pair of socks underneath these shoes, they will feel even tighter. I finally had to admit that my TOMS were probably too small. Ya think?
So, after deciding that most people who buy TOMS probably don’t go through the same initiation trial that I had endured, I gave up the fight and called the store to ask if I could return my TOMS for a bigger size. They said yes. And so I did. And I made sure to tell them I gave the whole stretching thing a pretty heroic effort.
Guess what? I am wearing my new TOMS right now and they are not making me crabby. I have no pain in either foot. I have almost forgotten about ancient foot binding. I have been productive and cheerful. And they really didn’t stretch all that much.
And best of all, I can walk normally because my shoes are the right size. Imagine that.
What a concept.
Moral of the story: Sometimes the little sales guys that help you with your shoes are really just there to make a buck and you probably should just buy shoes that feel good right away.