Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Granddad's revenge

by Bill Kirton

It’s 1975. Aberdeen, Scotland. The beginning of the school year. My daughter (aged 11) needs new shoes. I take her into town. We visit many shoe shops and the silences between us grow longer, the tension mounts higher in each shop. I want her to have shoes that’ll withstand the rigours of school playgrounds whereas she wants things with sparkly bits on them. The expedition ends with nothing having been bought, a ride home in a simmering silence shot through with electric menace, and a resolution on my part never ever to go near a shop with her again.

Now we’re into another century. This time it’s Brighton, England. The beginning of another school year. That same daughter, who now has four children of her own, needs to get shoes for the eldest. I accompany them. My daughter is far more reasonable than I am as her efforts to persuade her daughter to accept sensible shoes are met with downcast eyes and ‘proofs’ that they’re ugly and that the sparkly ones would be a much better investment. This time, I’m in the sparkly camp. The expedition ends shoeless and in relative silence, broken only by my barely-suppressed, self-satisfied chuckles.

I always liked schadenfreude but when it has a personal twist, it’s even more profoundly satisfying. Grandchildren restore the balance of families.

The picture, by the way, is of a 'Garbo' by Carvela  which retails at a very reasonable £150. (Aye, right.)


Jaden Terrell said...

Ah, but there is such happiness in the sparkle. Those are the kind of shoes I would never wear, but which I love to look at in the light.

Jean Henry Mead said...

I loved this post, Bill. I shopped for shoes with four teenaged daughters (13-18) at the same time and managed to live through it.

Bill Kirton said...

Beth, I should have confessed that my attitude to such shoes has changed. I love the glamour of high heels (but I can't imagine how difficult it must be to walk around in them).

My frustrations multiplied by four, Jean? Your stoicism is admirable.