December 11, 2008
By Abigail Schumacher-Benoit, Destrehan, LA

A young girl wandered silently into the Goodwill on Robert E. Lee. The slightly annoying bell on the door jingled as she stepped into a blue and white world smelling of the oh-so classic “Goodwill” scent, old clothes, and moth balls.

Leslie Belinda Honeywood lounged behind the glass counter, twirling one of her two long braids and carelessly flipping through an issue of Allure magazine. “Good evening!” she called to the girl and smiled a slightly crooked smile. However, her expression faded into shock as she realized that the young woman was not wearing shoes. A pair of simple white socks embroidered with the initials “MCA” on them adorned her feet. This is a problem that must be resolved, Leslie thought. “You poor thing!” she exclaimed, running towards the high schooler who had just been studying a sofa covered in a fabric resembling a jungle scene. The girl turned, slightly alarmed as a young woman wearing a red corduroy jumper and yellow tights staggered clumsily near her, large red glasses askew. “You’re not wearing any shoes! I mean, I know times are hard right now and you might have used all of your cash to buy that vintage beige sweater, but you simply cannot continue to walk around and expose your feet to the brutal forces of Mother Nature!” She used large, open hands to emphasize her statements, narrowly avoiding knocking over a pink lamp that sat next to her.

“Oh, I’m sorry that my lack of footwear offends you, but I can explain. You see—“ the girl began.

“I know, I know. Don’t worry; I have a solution for you!” Leslie interrupted her, pulling the teen’s arm and dragging her to a small shoe rack. The high schooler nervously stood in front of her, pulling the sleeves of her sweater over her hands and adjusting her white school blouse.
“I was just looking at this fall’s issue of Vogue, ya know, getting some ideas. Well,” Leslie put her hand to her chin as she fumbled with a pair of black Reebok’s, “not only did I discover that this paisley shirt totally matches my blue eyes; I also saw this Louis Vouitton ad that reminds me of your wardrobe choice today!”

“Um. It’s a school uniform,” she attempted to explain, beginning to tiptoe away from the girl and glancing towards the front door. I just wanted a pair of comfy flip-flops, something to soothe my aching feet, she thought. Too bad this girl makes me too scared to even walk in the place.

Leslie handed the teenager a pair of red Chinese sandals, but quickly took them back, shaking her head. “Your hair’s too long for this shoe’s style.”
What did hair have to do with shoes? There was no way she would be able to escape this strange woman. “Listen, I really don’t need anything,” the teenager tried to explain, absentmindedly twirling her hair.
Leslie chose to ignore the statement, glancing through the meager shoe selection. “Hm. I need something that would totally match your plaid kilt,” she announced. “Aha! I think I’ve got it!”

…What the girl saw was quite possibly the most disgraceful form of footwear she had ever seen. In her hands, Leslie held two rather large, beat up, and slightly torn Doc Martins. Their shoe laces seemed similar to constricting vines, and their soles resembled thick weights. She glared at them, praying their hideous appearance was simply a visage.

“Speechless, huh?” Leslie said. “I thought you’d be. I had the same reaction when I spotted sandals on sale at J. Crew for just ten bucks. Anyway, these Doc Martins would so add that rustic kick to your wardrobe. Get it? Kick, like your feet?” She chuckled at her own joke, slightly snorting and clutching the metal shoe rack for support.

“Why would I wear those? I just chucked a pair of them in the trash yesterday,” she stated. “I got tired of carrying their painful, ten-pound bodies up many flights of stairs.”

“Oh dear! But you do know, it hurts to be beautiful,” Leslie stated, taken aback by the aversion to the shoes. This girl obviously does not know the stylish footwear being presented to her, Leslie thought.

“But beauty isn’t nearly achievable in those things!” the girl flatly stated. “They’re so horrendous, chunky, and cumbersome. They’re acid resistant. Who makes shoes like that?”

“They’re certainly a lot better than what you’re wearing on your feet right now. And plus, they’d be awesome to hang out in, like the movies or the mall. Those kinds of places don’t have lots of stairs, and you’d look super coordinated,” Leslie suggested, bearing a pathetic smile.

“I wouldn’t be caught in public wearing those disgusting things! I’d rather attach a wombat to my head than wear shoes not even designed for human feet.” She was becoming slightly irritated; she had places to go and things to do. This girl was just wasting her time. She glanced at the clock on the wall and turned back to Leslie.

“Honey, you just don’t know fashion.”

“I don’t know fashion? Are you kidding me? What about yourself? You work in a Goodwill. If you really had any fashion experience, you’d at least work somewhere with more dignity!”

Leslie continued, “Look, I can give you a discount. Maybe we can work something out and --”

“I don’t want your disgusting shoes!” The girl turned around, stomping out of the door and away from Leslie’s incessant nagging.

Leslie heard the bell ring as the teenager stepped out of the store. A few customers stared at the sight that just occurred, but returned back to browsing the clothing racks. Leslie sighed, staring at the Doc Martins. Some people just don’t understand, she thought. The truth was that Leslie actually didn’t have the money or the time to become a fashion super star. Just getting into the community college was hard enough, and she couldn’t figure out what course she was going to pursue. If I can’t even influence a teenager to buy a pair of shoes, how am I ever going to be successful?

As Leslie returned to the counter, the bell rang once more, and another customer stepped in. “Good evening,” Leslie half-heartedly said, ignoring the customer and hiding her shamed face behind her pile of magazines. Soon after, she got up to stretch her legs and noticed an interesting being standing alongside the shoe rack. It was a teenage girl wearing the most amazing outfit ever! Her black tunic resembled the one she had seen in Chanel’s ad and her Gucci purse was definitely authentic. Leslie rushed over to the girl to get a better look at the handbag, just to be sure. She could practically smell the chick’s Chanel No. 5 as she stood behind her. As the blonde observed a pair of Crocs, Leslie hid behind a shelf of picture frames, analyzing the way the light reflected off of the leather purse. I can’t believe schools actually allow girls to be so trendy! I always knew there was hope for high schools to learn to just accept the trends of fashion.

Lost in her thoughts, Leslie bumped into the particle board shelf, nearly tripping. She grabbed onto it to regain her balance; however, a line of frames toppled over like a row of dominos. She shrieked, scrambling to pick them up before any of them crashed to the floor. The fashion idol in front of her turned around, obviously startled. “Uh. Good evening! How may I help you?” Leslie managed, reassembling the picture frames.

“Oh, I was just looking for a pair of comfortable shoes that I could wear to school,” the girl replied. She flashed a pair of pearly whites at Leslie, a welcoming gesture.

“But your school uniform is so cute!” Leslie said, motioning to the girl’s outfit. Your school must be pretty hip to let y’all be this stylin’!” She glanced down at the girl’s lavender stilettos. “But you can’t wear those! You’ll trip going to class! Doesn’t your school know that heels are such a safety hazard?”

“Oh, this isn’t my uniform. What I meant was that I was --”

“Yeah, looking for some comfortable shoes, right? Don’t worry, fashionista. I’m sure I have a pair just for you!” Leslie automatically got straight to sorting through the shoe rack.
She offered the girl a pair of white Keds, but received a shake of the head in return. “I’m pretty sure we have something here. You’ll never have to worry about stumbling to the cafeteria again!” Leslie glanced at the rack in front of her, but was offered nothing competent in return.”Ya know, I think we might have something in the back, I’ll go check.” Her heart started pounding; she had to give this girl a good deal. After all, Leslie’s reputation as a fashion scientist was at stake!

“Actually, I think these are perfect,” the teen said, holding the Doc Martins from earlier. “But thanks so much for your help. I really appreciate it.”

Leslie almost blacked out. So someone really did like Doc Martins like her? She wasn’t the only one anymore! She almost jumped for joy, but slipped, nearly toppling the shoe rack over. She folded her arms and grinned, happy to have improved the fashion health of an individual. “I think I could change the world,” she stated to herself, clumsily skipping over to the counter to read some more magazines.

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