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11:48 p.m. - 2013-12-05
A Penny (Loafer) For Your Thoughts

I wish I knew what the deal was with Kardashians. I'm not above going to celeb sites- usually to check out the gowns after awards shows. I'd love to get swanked up a couple times a year and be off with a tuxedo-ed Mick to a red carpet event. My life as it is now and for any foreseeable future has zero chance of ever needing a sparkly gown. In fact most days shoes are optional. Not bitching, truly. I know how lucky I am. Most of you have the burden of alarm clocks, commutes, bosses, and giving the biggest chunk of your waking hours over to doing some kind of hateful job and very few of you get to do your job wearing barefeet and yoga pants as I do. All I'm saying is I like fancy clothes and find post-awards program slideshows the stuff of happy daydreams. And when I click over to see who wore what at the Emmys or the Oscars I am confused by the dozens of sidebar links to stories and pics of Kardashians.

Who are they? What are they? And why do they get so much press? Oh I know they have a reality show, but again the question is "Why?" Who are these people and what was the original impetus to give them a show? Do they DO anything? Sing? Dance? Act? I'm honestly asking here. I know former Olympic champion Bruce Jenner is involved somehow and that he's midway through a sex-change from male decathlete into a scary-looking late middle-aged lesbian, but surely even that isn't more than a 5 minute wonder. Gender is ever more a mindset than one's actual set of genitals these days and while I am wholly in favor of the freedom to wear a tiara or trucker hat regardless of whether you stand or sit to pee I'm finding the endless gagging breathless fascination with Bruce Jenner's stepdaughters a mystery. One I am honestly confused by. Makes me feel like I missed a memo somewhere. One day there was no such thing as a Kardashian and then POOF! Suddenly they are an entire industry and a hefty chunk of the GNP. ????? So please, if you can explain the Kardashian phenomena I'd be most grateful. Thanks.

Today the other thing on my mind is shoes. As a chick with limited shopping options with my 12W I covet shoes like some covet first editions, rare coins, and misprint postage stamps.

In the 90s I had a pair of black penny loafers. They weren't Bass Weejuns but the loafers were of great quality. Leather uppers and soles- they lasted for years and years. Enough so that I had the worn heels replaced once. I loved those shoes. I put dimes in the eyelet on the instep not pennies. The shiny silver dimes looked better against the black leather and I used to joke the dimes were my emergency money should I ever need to use a payphone. From the late 80s through when I got pregnant with Wolf my work clothes tended toward the androgynous. Despite the ginormous hooters and heavy mop of white-blonde Barbie hair (or maybe because of them) I stuck with slacks and vests and severely cut suits. Most often worn with neckties in bold prints. My favorite tie was a gift from my ex-MIL. A heavy silk number printed with stylized lotus flowers in salmon pink and seafoam green. She'd bought it for me from a souvenir vendor on a train in the Guangzhou Province during a tour of mainland China. I loved that tie. Every time I knotted it I thought about how it came from the other side of the world and how my then-MIL was thinking of me and liked me enough to buy me a tie. Not a painted fan or a jade bracelet, but a tie. Something I'd wear with pride and pleasure and was so very me. Her daughter was also a hotshot in a traditionally male-dominated field (chemical engineering) but Gin's taste and needs were different. She got a jade bracelet.

In those pre-Wolf days during my off hours I wore long flowing gauzy skirts and my favorite jacket was a black suede bomber with a nipped waist and fringe on the yoke and sleeves. I'd decorated the fringe with seashells and bells and small chunks of semi-precious stones. My Stevie Nicks phase was in full flower and I was all about the leather and lace. But work was a different gig. A lone female in a traditionally male field I never wanted the guys I worked with to credit my success to my cleavage. (They did anyhow and were never shy about griping within earshot about how I must be giving a blowjob with every sale, how else to explain my incredible sales record? That I might just be that good at my job never entered their grungy misogynistic little brains.) Plus back then I hadn't yet figured out how manage being both an ardent feminist and a fan of princess accoutrement. At the time it still felt like an 'either/or' thing. Thus in my work life I kept my place on top of the sales shark heap by eschewing frills, fra-lahs, and sparklies. I bought my suits in the men's department at Macy's. Mario, my favorite salesguy, took great pleasure in putting me on the fitting plinth in the dressing room and chalking my latest Armani while choleric stockbrokers and huffy attorneys snorted their outrage over a woman being in their secret suit-fitting hide-out.

Anyhow, the black penny loafers. I had them polished once at a shoeshine stand in Union Station in Washington DC. The guy in the seat next to mine frowned heavily and rattled his 'Wall Street Journal' with disgust when I dared step up and sit in one of those "Yeah, I'm a big shot" lofty chairs. The guy who did my shine was a hoot. All snappy patter and even snappier buffing cloths, he kept me laughing while he whisked his polish rags, brushes and chamois over my well-worn shoes. When it was done my loafers had never looked shinier and I marked another notch in my tally of male privilege conquered. Again, at the time it hadn't sunk in yet that women can have their own milestones, ones just as valid as men's and that doing their shit (suits, shoe shines, sales records) wasn't the be all end all of 'success'.

This isn't a slam. Not of men nor of the confused and conflicted path of pre-millennium feminism, all I can say is that everyone has to start somewhere. In aping and the embracing the fashions and status symbols of the traditional powerbrokers (ie: men) I learned to claim my own power and that's a good thing. If with my penny loafers and sleekly tailored suits and record breaking sales tally I found myself and gave myself permission to be a success on my own terms...well, YAY! Isn't that a worthy goal for everybody? Professional success and personal satisfaction? Yes.

Which brings me back to my confusion about Kardashians. I fought my battles with the established patriarchy and my own frightened limitations. How difficult it's been to clear my eyes of society's scales and decide for myself what constitutes success! Am I wealthy? No. Am I famous? No. Do I have influence on government and policy? No. Would anyone besides a select few miss me if I died? No. So. Am I successful? I am. Despite the painful withdrawal of my elder son I have terrific kids. My marriage is solid and happy. I like the woman who looks back at me from the mirror. Not thin or youthful anymore. But she has much to offer and has many accomplishments that sit well in her personal accounting. If the only thing lacking is money and the money is only important because I want to secure a solid home and provide education and opportunities to travel and learn for my kin then I guess I'm doing okay. By those measures I have as much if not more going for me than a Kardashian so where's my reality show? And why aren't the tabloids keeping track of my every move and every wardrobe change? Perhaps the key is Bruce Jenner. Anyone have his phone number?


In a goofy mood, ~LA

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