Since my last couple posts have been kind of unfocused, I figured I’d break out a story from The Archives. Actually, I’ll have to tell you two stories and surprisingly, one of them has to do with shoes.
[Watches female eyes light up across the blogosphere…]
It all starts with the boots.
One day back when I was living in Albany, Future-Ex and I were cruising through the mall, just her and I. This was before we were married, but after we’d bought the house together. As we passed in front of this exotic boot store, I stopped at the window to look at the snakeskin boots. I’d always thought they looked really sharp.
So in passing, I said, “Man, if I ever had a couple hundred bucks to toss down the toilet, I’d get a pair of snakeskin boots.” We continued on our way and I never mentioned it again.
Cut to my birthday later that year and lo and behold, she got me a pair of snakeskins! I was overjoyed! I had no idea she remembered that comment and was thrilled to have such an extravagant wife.
My snakeskin boots. I’m sure they could use a good clean and shine.
The thing I learned about wearing the snakes was that while the tops were soft and pliable, there was nothing to the soles. Between the steel bar in the arch and the forward edge of the boot heel that cuts into my heel, it was clear that I wouldn’t be able to wear these things for any long stretch of time. (And this was before the Delayed Pressure Urticaria. These things kill me now.)
But boy, they looked good. With the big heels, I looked like I was about 8 feet tall and with every stride you heard that distinctive boot-click, letting everyone around know that a badass was approaching.
Side note: I wore them to work here in Baltimore one time. I figured that since I sat down most of the day, I’d be OK. On the contrary, my feet were throbbing by the time I got home. But on the way in, as I was walking up out of the subway, I heard someone say, “Love the boots!”
I turned around and saw that it was a young black girl, who just so happened to be wearing skin-tight snakeskin pants. It was probably a stripper, on the way to the day shift at one of the clubs on The Block.
OK, so back to Albany…
We spent the next spring in a whirlwind of wedding planning. First and foremost, we had to find a place that would marry us. Both of us were recovering Catholics, but while it was my first time, she’d already been married twice before, so a Catholic Church wedding was out of the question. That suited me just fine. I didn’t much care who married us; I knew that the only praying I was going to do on Sundays was going to be on the behalf of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
So we checked around and found a Unitarian church nearby, conveniently located right down the street from where we wanted to have the reception. The Unitarians take pretty much everyone so I wasn’t too worried about getting turned down. The minister (or whatever) only asked that we come in one time for a counseling session. I was fine with that, as I wanted to get a handle on him too.
We managed to act like we were a good match and convinced him to take the gig. Obviously, one of the reasons churches like this will marry people that are unaffiliated with them is to try to change that fact and get them attending services. Naturally, he asked Future-Ex, her kid and I to come to the following Sunday’s service and we agreed. I figured that it would be a good idea to go and make sure they weren’t into anything too weird, you know, like fires or dragons or rolling on the floor and speaking in tongues. I thought we’d just slip in and sit in the back, observe like flies on the wall and make sure we weren’t making a terrible mistake. We’d slip in and slip back out, without drawing any undue attention.
I was feeling particularly jaunty that morning so I decided I’d wear my snakeskins to the service. I mean, why not? If we were sitting in the back, it’s not like I’d be blocking anyone’s view? Why not go in stylin’?
I’ll tell you why. Because things rarely turn out as you plan. You’d have thought I’d learned that by that point in my life.
As we walked in the back doors, we were greeted immediately by an overly cheerful usher, who after introducing himself to us newcomers, briskly led us straight down past all the shiny, happy Unitarians right to front fucking row. There I was, clomp-clomping down the aisle like a Clydesdale, 8-feet tall and as awkward looking as a kid holding up the side wall of an 8th grade dance.
Not seeing any graceful way out of it, I just went with it and tried to sit down as low as I could. Just one more in the crowd, right?
Wrong. This service, while relatively pleasant, had a lot of call and response throughout the service. We didn’t know any of it and that really shouldn’t have mattered. Even when I did know all the responses, like with the Catholic mass, I never actually participated. I never saw the point of group responses; they’re a little too much like mass-hypnosis for me.
But then they got to this one part; geez it still gives me a nervous stomach to think about it to this day. There was this song to be sung and unlike how you usually just sit there and move your lips and pretend to sing, everyone had to stand up in circles of 6 or 7, hold hands facing each other and sing together in little groups.
So there we are, way up in front, me with my 8-feet tall snakeskin boots and deer-in-headlights eyes, holding hands with the scripture reader and people in the row behind us. Everyone is singing except us, because obviously we don’t know enough of the words to even fake it. I can’t even look at anybody; all I can do is look at the floor and fidget on my feet.
Have you ever had that dream where you’re in front of an audience to give a big speech and you don’t know what to say? Or are pushed out onto a stage with a guitar in your hand, but you don’t know how to play a single thing? And you hope that you can just start doing something with the strings and some notes would pour out, but still you just stand there because you don’t even know where to start? That was me, living out my personal nightmares in front of a bunch of shiny, happy Unitarians, swaying and sweating high up above the congregation in my stack-heeled snakeskin boots.
What I wouldn’t have given for Scotty to beam me the hell out of there in that instant. I felt like a complete and utter 8-foot dork. While the minister may have known our plight, nobody else around us did. We just looked like a nice family of dipshits. I could not WAIT to get out of Dodge.
I wonder if that was a Unitarian initiation prank. I bet they only do that to punish the heathens that come to use the Unitarians strictly for marriage services.
“They think they can just waltz in here and use our church? We’ll fix their asses… Here, we’ll sit’em right up front, so we can all laugh. It’ll be like a bonding exercise.”
“Dude, did you see the look on that big one? I thought he was going to throw up right there in the pew. Good thing we didn’t go through with part two.”
“What, where we make them do The Lord’s Special Dance? Ten bucks says Tallboy would have tripped over the kneeler and busted his lip on the railing.”
And you wonder why I haven’t found religion…