Some of us are shirt men, others may have a particular thing for ties. I am a shoe man.
I look for the perfect pair of shoes like a poet looks for the right word, and, just like that poet, I fail most of the time.
I bought the shoes shown above at Prada's shop on Fifth Avenue during a lunchtime stroll. No, I am not a "Prada Guy;" I had never purchased anything there before and have never done so since. Some men of a certain age have their Harleys, I had these shoes.
To be honest, I bought two pairs of shoes that day: one brown, one black. Same cap-toe on both, but the black pair was a more formal shoe, almost patent-shiny, with beautifully sculpted lines. But, we are not speaking of that black shoe today.
The leather used to make my brown cap-toe shoe is glove-soft, as long as that glove had been made in Italy and sold in a tiny shop in a narrow alley in Milan. The softness of this leather would make men weep as they might over Gisele's thigh, Kate's pout or Federer's backhand.
I had spied these shoes on a previous stroll and thought about them in the same way that Proust must have thought about his madeleine. This happens frequently to me when I see certain shoes.
But, as with many love affairs, this one was troubled almost from the start, since these are not comfortable shoes, at least not for me. To begin with, I have a high arch and a short, wide foot, usually size 42 or 8.5-9 E. Also, my left foot is slightly shorter than my right to match my left leg which is a touch shorter than my right.
You can see my shoe problem immediately, particularly since I am not in a Lobb tax bracket.
I have tried various inserts in these shoes. I have tried wearing them with no socks as if they were moccasins, but I cannot pull off the Thom Browne look (few, if any, can). When I wear the shoes into the city for a whole day, my feet (especially my left) ache by day's end. The shoe is so flat, accommodating the special Prada rubber sole, that it is almost completely impractical for me to wear.
You might think that I'm sorry to have ever bought the shoes. You would be wrong. I look at these shoes in my closet with the same eyes with which I look at a Rothko painting or a Noguchi sculpture in a museum. I feel certain that one day Paola Antonelli will display them in her MOMA collection.
There are inexplicable things we do in life and, no matter how hard we try to correct certain tendencies, we seem incapable of doing so. We fall for the wrong girl, take the wrong job and leave home without our umbrella.
There are more beautiful shoes like these in my future that will hurt me for wearing them.
I do not care.