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New Suede Shoes:
Fashion sense. Age 55

Recently retired from the California Department of Education, Andrew Laufer is writing a book about his life including periods as a butcher's helper, food service worker, construction laborer, animal research assistant, seasonal fire fighter, and janitor. In his youth, he hitch-hiked up and down the coast and out to Colorado numerous times providing context for hundreds of short stories.

I don't pay attention to fashion trends. I'll generally wear something until it falls apart, regardless of the fashion statement it makes.

I rarely shop for myself and most of my clothes are Christmas or birthday gifts. Thankfully, my family members have good taste and keep my look current. There is one exception, my fedora, which contributes to my signature look. Occasionally I'll get a compliment on my overall look, but my fashion style is nondescript compared to those in the fashion know.
That is what makes this story about my new suede shoes worth telling.

On a business trip to Oregon when I pulled my dress shoes out of the suitcase, I noticed they were different. My left shoe was black, and my right shoe was brown. I couldn't go to a business meeting wearing shoes that didn't match. Although it never occurs to me to check out people's shoes, if others noticed I was wearing unpaired shoes I'd lose my shot at making a good impression.
A friend of mine took me to a shoe store. The store had racks and racks of shoes and it didn't take me long to find a pair of shoes at a reasonable price.

They are beige suede shoes with a red border atop the soles held together with light stitching. The heel of the shoes is layered with leather, wood, and rubber. They matched the suit I packed, so I bought them. After the meeting, I went to my buddy's house for dinner, and his daughter complimented me on my shoes. Her compliment was unexpected because I had never, not once, been complimented on my shoes.

On returning home I occasionally wore my new suede shoes to work. The first time I wore them at work I was given another compliment. I was no less surprised with this compliment as I was the first. It turned out that I had, unwittingly, made a fashion statement that resonated with my co-workers.

Nearly every time I wore those shoes, someone gave me a compliment. The compliments, from men and women, kept coming for a couple of years. I had no idea how much people pay attention to shoes.

Although I'm still not motivated to keep up with the latest trends I will, however, make sure the shoes I wear are presentable, since now I know people are paying attention.

Sadly, the shoes have lost their appeal, as suede will after a time, but I brush them up and still wear them.

They haven't fallen apart yet.

~ Andrew Laufer





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