The Red Shoes (on)


‘When saying it wrong is too cute to correct’

I was feeling kind of empty, the Australian Open being over and all (oh where will I get my Federer Fix?), so I called my Mom.

(Let me say right off the bat that I am ever so grateful to have a Mom, and that having one as smart and funny and almost-always-available by iPhone as mine is, well that’s just cosmic icing on the cake.)

So, anyway. After discussing various relatives and their illnesses and books and movies and baseball (she doesn’t follow tennis, but I love her anyway), and the Fate of the Nation in General, we got around to my blog. And the fact that my Mom had, yet again, tried to post a comment that didn’t ‘take’. (We won’t go into technical details, except to note that my Mom is extremely tech-savvy, more than I am, in fact. She has personally designed her own emoji. So I am stymied about why/how she can’t post comments. Sigh.)

My Mom and Dad and my Peterson Grandparents, when I was adorably small and in no need of shoes, red or not red

Her comment? It was in reference to last week’s post which, if you recall, was about me feeling like it was about time already to be giving away certain stuff in my closet and was titled ‘At least it’s not a dead-squirrel stole’.

She said that she’d wanted to say that, when we kids were little, we called furry accessories like the one in my story ‘mink stoves’. She said she never corrected us because it was so darned cute. (And, um, it is pretty darned cute, if you don’t mind dead-animal malapropisms.)

Then she went on to remind me of other childish slips of the tongue (or whatever you want to call them) that were too cute to correct. Like calling the (then) tallest building in the world the ‘Entire State Building’. (Childhood Logic: we thought it was called that because it was as big as the entire state.)

The Whole Bunch of Us. It was summer vacation, but nope, we were not visiting the Entire State Building

This reminded me (don’t ask me how) that we used to think that ‘fart’ was pronounced ‘fort’. If one of us — or one of our odiferous little friends — um, ‘cut one’, we would wave our hands madly, and while shaking with laughter, shriek “Who forted?!?”

Me, in Second or Third Grade, looking rather like I am stifling laughter (if not a ‘fort’)

This Bathroom Humor even made it into the classroom. We had this third-grade teacher — Mrs. Nothaus was her name — who had a regional accent that meant she pronounced ‘fort’ just like ‘fart’. Even the kids who knew the difference cracked up when Mrs. Nothaus mentioned (in the context of a history lesson) that the pioneers had kept the Indians at bay with their ‘forts’.

But back to the red shoes.

When I was a very tiny girl, my favorite footwear was a pair of (very small) red shoes. I don’t remember them, but my Mom sure does.

My Mom would say “Time to get your shoes on, Alice” and I would reply “My red shoes-on?” And she would just smile and say “yes”. (She didn’t want to correct me, because it was so cute that I thought ‘shoes-on’ was what they were called.) As in “Time to get your shoes-on” or “Do you have your shoes-on?” You get the drift.

And the red shoes-on were my favorite.

Me with my Aunt Susie, who was only five years older than me. I’m thinking this is how I got my Red Shoe Fixation

One day my Gramma was in charge. And, even though she had raised five children of her own, thank you very much, it’s different when you are in charge of Somebody Else’s Kids, even (or perhaps especially) your own daughter’s. Added to this was the fact that she had to drive somewhere. Alone. With me.

She knew how to drive, sure. But she hated driving. And it didn’t help matters that I was the kind of kid who didn’t sit still much. (Remember: this was waaaay before you were required to strap your child into a car seat; why, we didn’t even have seat belts.) So, while poor Gramma was carefully navigating country roads, I was carefully removing my little red shoes and socks — and throwing them, shoe by shoe, sock by sock, out the car window.

My Mom says Gramma went back and found the red shoes. But the little white socks? Fluttered off into the cornfields, never to be seen again.

I still like to get my red shoes-on. But my hottest accessory is the one on my right arm

New York City. January 2018

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

19 thoughts on “The Red Shoes (on)

  1. This is fabulous as always. I love the little spoken mistakes kids make. It’s what totally makes my day as a teacher. I think it’s hilarious how you threw your shoes and socks out of the window!! That reminded me of a time some lovely darling in our family (can’t remember who) spent a good hour throwing an entire tissue box out the window, one by one. Not sure how the responsible adults in the car didn’t notice!!

    • Yes! I can only imagine that those little Slips of the Tongue are fun to teacher-catch. It must be hard to keep a straight face. I wasn’t a teacher, but I remember one of mine mentioning a classmate who said his tennis shoes had really good “gription”. She thought he’d coined a really good new word. And now we say that in our family all the time! Thank you, Dear One!

  2. drallisonbrown

    Love this! My son adored Thomas the Train Engine and would call the smokestack the “poke tack.” Still makes me smile. And, the shoes-out-the-window was an issue in our family, as well. My grandparents used to take the 4 grandchildren (my brother and I and our two cousins) on a vacation each year – by car. Invariably, my cousin Geoff, would “lose” his shoes somewhere along the highway….

  3. Ruth Meisenheimer

    Same accent as Mrs Nothaus for me. When planning a “40 party” for a friend, someone from northern IL ask me what in the world a “farty party” was! I’m careful about that word now.

  4. Deborah

    I grew up in Miami, FL and my dad still lived there when my daughter was born. When she was about 3 (maybe?) I kept telling her where we were going for a vacation, getting her prepared etc. Someone at the airport asked her where she was going and she smugly responded, “My momma’s Ami”. We thought that was adorable.

    • That IS adorable! And I completely forgot that one of my adorable brothers called the hospital where my mom worked ‘Memphodist Hospital’ — because we lived in Memphis. (It was really ‘Methodist Hospital’) SO cute!

  5. What is it about red shoes?? You are rockin’ them! I bought my first pair awhile back and there isn’t a time I don’t have a complete stranger stop me to say they love them. Now I have to go check out the Dead-Squirrel post because I don’t know how I missed that! 🙂

    • Omigosh! I was unintentionally hilarious there for a sec! But you called it; I’m thinkin’ a glass of wine IS one of my favorite accessories. At least it’s one I find myself reaching for often (!)

I'd love to hear from you