Antique Embarrassment, Wal-Mart

The Brown Shoes

Today I had to go to Wal-Mart. And just now I’m cringing at the thought of how many posts I have started with that sentence.

Since it was a bit on the chilly side today, I pulled out a pair of casual coffee-colored suede-ish (not to be confused with Swedish) lace-up shoes that I really love and have had for a number of years. They are the kind of shoes that you love so much that you go back and buy them in another color. And I feel perfectly okay using “you” in that sentence because I’m pretty sure many of “you” do the same thing.

The problem with getting to be my age (and I say that as if there is only one problem) is that sometimes certain events, like say the purchase of a pair of shoes, seems like one or two years ago when in fact it was more like eight or nine years ago.  And sometimes, like today, that is a problem because certain materials have a shelf life. There is a finite period of time before decomposition and disintegration of certain materials occur.  And this disintegration, that might occur, needs to be timed juuuuust right.

Unfortunately, today was one of those days when apparently my timing was off.

Because I left the house wearing two shoes that looked like this.

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And I came home wearing one of those shoes, looking like this.


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I was merrily strolling  down the produce aisle in my favorite suede-ish type shoes when I had some sort of shoe blow out.


All of a sudden, and for no discernable reason, I was half an inch shorter. I looked down and I was standing in a pile of crumbly black disintigrating rubber. I looked behind me and saw a trail of crumbly black disintigrating rubber. It was like I was leaking Oreo crumbs out of the leg of my jeans. I felt like I should sweep up or something. Then I realized that sweeping up in Wal-Mart would be an all-time low, even for me — possibly even lower than the day I flushed my sunglasses at Lego Land.


Quite honestly I didn’t really know what I should do.  I considered heading over to the shoe department and putting on another pair of shoes, but the thought of walking around the store in plastic shoes shackled with elastic seemed somewhat less cool than leaving a trail of Oreo-looking detritus in my wake.


So I just schlumped along with my head held high trying to rise above my crumbling, disintegrating pride.

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82 thoughts on “The Brown Shoes

  1. Oh- I felt so sad when I read about your shoe! Good shoes can be hard to find, especially ones worthy of multiple color choices…

    Maybe you can take them to a shoe repair shop and have resoled?

  2. Oh, AM, I don’t know why that’s so funny, but I can hardly breathe! I’m just picturing you…kind of like the Bogey man in Nightmare Before Christmas (the guy that’s a pillow stuffed with bugs), just sort of falling apart in Wal-Mart. Except you’re full of Oreos. And you’re leaking. And that’s funny!

  3. LOL…
    if you swept at mine you would be the first one too! My husband and I were in WM one night and I swear the woman hated having to ring up our packages and I could easily picture her with a cigarette between her fingers and holding a glass with some amber-colored liquid, casually scanning our purchases with the other and carrying on conversations with people over the phone…yep, I have quite the imagination.

    Sorry about your shoes…at least it was only the heel and the whole shoe didn’t fall apart on you. Not that I have a story like that…although I’m sure that I have probably repressed something like this way deep in my subconcious…it’s just too painful to remember. I think it’s like childbirth…you forget these fashion setbacks so that you won’t hole yourself up in your house wearing your pink robe.

  4. I’ve had kids with Oreo-looking stuff leaking out their pants legs.

    And I could only wish that it was just disintegrating rubber down there underfoot.

    Mary, mom to 10

  5. I recently drove 14 hours to go to a wedding in the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE. I had the Crocks on my feet (vibrant orange – NEVER let your 4 year old pick out your shoes), and my sassy black knee-high boots in the bag for the wedding. Clearly, I hadn’t needed the sassy black boots in a while, for when I went to slide them on, they fell apart in my hands. The faux leather just crackled and peeled and flaked (much like my mascara that burned my eyes all night).

    Fortunately, the crowd was mostly younger and hipper than us, and I pretended that the boots were meant to look that way. Most of the guests, including the bridesmaids, had done their serious shopping at Value Village for “vintage” wear. I left my not-so-sexy-anymore boots in the garbage at the motel.

    On the upside, I managed to convince my husband to give me $200 for a new pair of sexy boots! (This from a man that has not bought a single article of clothing or footwear for himself or anyone else for over 12 years!)

  6. I had to laugh. I too have been at the end of a “shoe blowout” before. No wake behind me though, just the loss of part of the bottom.

    Guess it’s time to go shoe shopping! Darn!

  7. This has never happened to me (the disintegration of the heel; it’s happened over time, as with any living thing, but not all at once like that!)), but your story made me think of last week, at Target, when my husband needed sugar, as his was getting low. I ran and grabbed a Snickers bar and he said “I don’t think we’re allowed to do this” as he unwrapped and gobbled it. I assured him that we would pay for it at check-out. Same thing with shoes and clothes! Heck, if you need it then and there, you need it then and there! Throw diapers in there! Drinks! Snacks for everyone! We’ve all done it; it’s just about being honest and paying when you’re done.

  8. Now I wonder if you’ll ever be able to find another pair of shoes like that. Seems like every time I find a product I love, somebody decides it needs to be “improved”, and they change it beyond recognition.

  9. True, Donna W.

    And I TOTALLY have all kinds of “new” things that, upon reflection, are well over 5 years old. Especially all my disintegrating undergarments. 🙁

  10. We are all laughing with you, really. And I laughed the other night when I was watching “Scott Baio is 46 and pregnant” (don’t judge me) when he told another expectant father “Dude, I have SHOES older than you” because I too have shoes that old, literally. Perhaps you have done a public service, because now all those of us with shoes of a certain age will go through our closets and purge them, thereby avoiding a Wal-Mart shoe blowout. Don’t you feel like a humanitarian now?

  11. *smile*
    Oh that is good.

    Yes, I can relate, I am the “you” you referred to. I have far too many shoes that should be discarded but hold deep memories.

    Once while I was at Walmart, my heal (a hard wooden one) came partially off. So instead of disinigrating, it hung there and clunked loudly with each step.
    Between that and the squeaky cart, I sounded like a 4th grade band walking down the aisles.


  12. The same thing happened to my brother when he was Best Man at a wedding. NOT good! He’s a guy who NEVER wears shoes, being a sandals-chic kinda guy. He’s a photographer, so he can get away with anything!

  13. I know *exactly* what you mean about things having happened way longer ago that it seems. I counted it up and discovered at the beginning of this season that the coat I refer to as my “new red coat” is actually 12 years old. It’s funny, I used to laugh at my mom for doing the same type of thing. *shudder*. Paybacks are heck.

  14. Have you ever seen Larry the Cable Guy’s routine on people at Walmart going around with funny walks. Sorry but that was the first thing that popped in my head.

  15. The lady who sweeps the floor at my wal-mart is so kind. She has helped me get things off the TOP shelf more than once!! I run around to find her because I know she will help me — Our Wal-Mart floors are always clean. She’s a good worker… and kind. The other Wal-Mart workers… I can never find.

  16. I’m convinced that you could write a book on your adventures with shoes alone. Combine it with your Wal-Mart adventures and you’d have a surefire hit.

  17. I’m a new reader to your blog and I just love it so far! Thanks for sharing yourself.

    You’re such a gifted writer! Are you working on publishing anything?

  18. I remember having my mother buy me the same style/color of tennis shoes two years in a row. The kids all made fun of me b/c they thought I didn’t get new shoes. Wish I’d had the personality to beat ’em up. Ahh, childhood!

    Sorry about your poor shoes…

  19. Oh golly, that was funny!! What a great way to start my morning with a laugh. Sorry about your shoes though…favorite shoes should last forever, remain comfortable, and never go out of style. I loved the part about sweeping up at Wal-Mart. 🙂 Ha-ha-ha!!

  20. I love how you take the ordinary events of my life (and apparently yours) and make them sound so funny. A regular Bill Cosby, you are! ;-Þ

  21. Depending on how much you love the shoes…you can have them repaired with a brand new sole for each shoe. They cobbler type person will tell you if it’s really worth it or not –

  22. I’m so sorry for your loss. And then there’s elastic. It hums merrily along for years and then, bam, one day it goes all crinkly, stretched out, and useless.

  23. I had a shoe blowout at Main Event once while chaperoning a kid’s birthday party. And I had no spare shoes with me. Plus I had to go to the bathroom. My choices were to take off the other shoe and brave the floors of a public restroom facility with bare feet (yecchh!) or to summon what dignity I had left and then sacrifice it all by “hopping” on one foot. I believe I hopped.

  24. The truely funny part of all this is that you had the presence of mind to take a picture of the shoes (on your feet, I might add) when you returned home.

  25. Ha Ha funny blog!

    You may not have new shoes but your son is taken care of and that’s what important right!

    There we a time I had shoe shopping excusions too but now I’m happy if my feet are comfy in my good ol crocs! 🙂

  26. I have come to the conclusion that AD, Sean and I are the only people in the US who do not own a pair of crocs. They are ugly and I will not put them on my feet.

  27. Oh that was a good laugh!
    At least you were at Wal-Mart! What if you had been in some trendy high end store, or walking into a funeral or worse…walking in to pick up your child from Preschool with all the tennis moms???!!! THE HORROR! At Wal-Mart you just blended right in. 🙂

  28. My girls have a rule…..ruin a pair of shoes…..get two new pairs to replace that one pair. My darling daughter once explained to her Dad about that rule like this, “One pair to replace the ruined shoes, another pair for the mental anguish”. This could be why she ended up with 60 pairs of flip flops.
    Happy shoe shopping!

  29. Once we were going to dallas for a wedding shower and I did not have a pair of slinky little sandals for my outfit (an outfit that I hated by the way) I was riding with my parents (and husband and two kids) and I told my dad just to pull up in front of target and I would run in grab the shoes i had seen the other day and be out in less than 10 min. Well, of course the 6 year old had to pee and my husband wanted some gum and the baby needed a diaper change. So well, we all went in, (except my dad who was seething behind the wheel about our time management issues) running to seperate ends of of Target for our various necessities. Oh and by the way did I mention we were already about 30 min late and still 30 min from our destination. So my son and I go running back to the shoe aisle, while my mom changed the baby and my husband got his gum. I located the correct shoes and thinking I would be brilliant, slipped them on and put my flip flops in my purse to save time…because everyone knows it is not safe to run in flip flops. (????) Now we went racing up the asile towards the check out to pay for the shoes already on my feet and gravity took over from there. Aparently the plastic 1 inch wide heel on the bottom of Target brand shoes is not made for running sprints across sippery concrete floors. So down I went, and accross the floor I slid right into my son (who still had not gone pee by the way). Down he went and there we were mangled upon the floor of Target. Within minutes, around the corner came a customer service rep with a stack of accident report (I did bruise up my knee pretty badly…but an ambulance…seriously???) Meanwhile my 6 year old decided to take off by himself and find daddy at the front of the store. Somehow he quickly suceeded in finding him and bringing him to me. And my husband was just standing there stunned at the sight of all these people surrounding me, not knowing how all of this cold possibly have happened in a 15 min window of time. Needless to say my dad was about to have his third heart attack behind the wheel thinking we had decided to sit down and have an icee and a pretzel at the snack counter. We did finally make it out of Target and to the shower just shy of two hours late and let me tell you, I was not in the best of moods. Until I realized affter all of that, that indeed I was a also a thief! I had forgotten to pay for the stupid sandals!!!!!! Now we were almost three hours away once I realized this…so I figured they would never be able to catch me anyway, with my slick running skills and all.) 🙂 By no means am I promoting causing painful bone crushing scenes in order to make out with free loot…but hey……………..if the shoe fits!

  30. Sounds like you didn’t have a relaxing day at the SPA(mine and my sister’s code word for Walmart). Too bad shoes don’t come with an expiration date.

  31. The same thing happened to me a couple of months ago. The heel of my shoe (which was probably about 8 years old) decided to disintegrate just as the mothers of senior runners were called forward during my high school-aged daughter’s cross country awards banquet. I hate going up in front of crowds anyway, but to be leaving a trail of disintegrated rubber behind me just drew more attention!!
    (Now please note, that I said mothers of seniors, not that I am a senior-although I am sure my daughter would classify anyone my age as a senior citizen!!)

  32. If you love the shoes, have them re-soled!

    I had a pair of shoes that I loved and wore for years. I had to go up north from FL, for a January funeral. The rubber sole froze in the luggage rack on the roof. When I put them on, they cracked across the sole! I was so upset. I took them to a shoe repair shop as soon as I got back home. I think I paid more to repair them than I did to buy them, but sometimes a girl has to do, what a girl has to do!

  33. I threw on a favorite pair of lace-up hiking boots to run out to the garden and as I was walking back to the house I noticed my feet felt really strange. I looked down and my feet and then directly behind me, I had completely walked OUT of the soles of my shoes. Old glue I guess.

  34. After a long walk one day last fall, I looked at my sneaker and realized the reason one foot felt funny all day was because the midsole was missing from the front half.

    Yesterday, I threw away a bunch of old shoes so I could get to my free weights (yep, it’s January). But I kept the oldest pair of ankle boots, my favorite, with the promise to myself that I’ll toss them at the end of this winter. Those soles, they’re getting thin.

  35. Oh the hilarity! I can’t get enough of your stories. Is it bad that we pray for mishaps to befall you so that we can read about it? (just kidding–I don’t really pray for this)

  36. Last comment…it’s lovely to find someone who uses words like “detritus” and doesn’t make it sound stilting and awkward.

    I don’t have Crocs for the same reason–comfy or not, I just can’t imagine walking around with a bubble-gum pink wad of plastic that resembles swiss cheese on my feet.

  37. Hi, I found your blog thru my google reader. I enjoyed this post because we’ve all been there. I’ve noticed as I’ve gotten older that if I find something that fits, I want to buy lots of them (in different colors.) And, we’ve all had a heel break off something. Hope you find replacement shoes soon.

  38. In high school, during the height of the preppy craze, I was at a football game — feeling quite hip in my tassle loafers and letterman jacket. The jacket with my name plastered in H U G E L E T T E R S across the back, lest not anyone forget who I might be, at least from behind.

    As I made my way down the bleachers, I kicked one of the steps somehow, and the entire heel went catapulting off of my loafer and into the home team crowd.

    Two years later at graduation, I still hadn’t lived that down.

  39. oh, thank you so much for the giggle. That ought to tide me over for a few minutes until I start the auditions of American Idol. Mommies, I implore you all to never tell your tone deaf children they can sing!!!!

  40. AM, thank you so much for this blog!! It was so nice to sit down and enjoy your witty humor after a tough couple of days filled with attending the funeral of a 32-year-old cousin who was a husband and father of four, and caring for a dear friend and her little boy after they were in a car accident. What a relief to indulge in some laughter!

    Your insights and faith are also inspiring. I love your blog! Please write a book!

    Bless you,

  41. Well…..looks like an Ole’ Sole that lost it’s heel.
    They just don’t make shoes like they used too; and wouldn’t look to classy on the soccer field anyhow,
    go get some with some GRIPS on em’.
    –Headlines: LADY LOSES SOLE IN WAL*MART !!

  42. I am visiting for the first time, I just read how you became a mother. WOW! I am very happy for you. I have been through a lot of the same tests and procedures! I have a beautiful 6 year old son. He was my 1 miracle, I have tried since to have another and have been unsuccessful. I thought I was getting to old to continue trying but maybe we can give it another shot. I have been through strange things to have a baby including using a hamster egg. Long story, but I have my miracle and I am so glad you got yours! Enjoy that adorable little boy every day!

  43. Haaaa Haaa gasp!! Oh yess! (wiping eyes) Stuff like this happens to me!! And I have to try to be “cool” and calm and collected…this is a great post! You kept it sooooo “real” today! Bless you!

  44. Oh, just hilarious….after the fact, of course. I bet you schlumped with the utmost of grace. and btw, I will never wear crocks either….in fact no one in my household has any either, so if you feel lonely, come on over! 🙂

  45. Ohhh! I feel so bad! I don’t know what I feel worse about though; the slow death of your shoe, or the fact that I giggled out loud the whole time I was reading this!

  46. WHO KNEW THAT SO MUCH FUNNY LIVED INSIDE YOUR HEAD!?!?!? I laughed out loud more than once reading this one…..ah, you have a gift, my friend. Thanks for (again) bringing a smile to my otherwise mundane, ordinary Wednesday!

    heart and hugs,

  47. OK, now wait a minute. I just went back and looked at your shoes again. The last picture could be enlarged and I got a better look at them. Are those Croft & Barrow shoes? If so, that’s what mine are, too. And they’re apparently made to explode after a certain date. My heel disintegrated suddenly after only a year’s use. I’m intrigued. Please post back and let me know if they are C&B shoes. Thanks!

  48. No, they were Easy Spirits – spirits whose soles suddenly gave up the ghost after 8 or 9 years. I still have a pair in black, but I’m terrified to wear them.

  49. OK, thanks. I still have a pair of Croft & Barrow in brown, which are holding up very well. I have no explanation for what the heck happened to my black pair.

  50. I was sure this story was going in the direction that you actually tried a pair on, and left with a new ONE and an old one…then realized it at the grocery store! I was laughing crazily, thinking ahead of your story…ok, I MUST get a life, I check everyday for the giggle-packed posts you write! You always leave me smiling!

  51. I know I’m a little late, but that’s the best laugh I have had in awhile. The pictures alone were great, but your commentary on being an inch shorter with your Oreo trail….good stuff!
    My 4 year old boy walks up wondering why I am laughing. I try to explain and he calmly says, “That’s what happens when you wear your shoes too long.” So male, so matter-of-fact. Thanks for the laugh!

  52. i have not laughed that hard in QUITE A WHILE! i found your website by googling something…can’t remember what…and it took me to your entries from 2006 and i was HOPING to find something newer. glad to see you’re still writing. i am WITH you on walmart love/hate relationship. i want you to put your writings into a book! i will buy it!
    oh my gosh, i am in so much laughter pain!
    God bless you!

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