DOTHAN, AL, February 14, 2013 — This is for all you men who need help with Valentine’s Day. Ladies, you might want to print this out and leave it somewhere your favorite guy will find it, possibly in the refrigerator taped to a beer bottle.
Gentlemen, if you are about to go out and buy flowers for Valentine’s Day, stop. If you have already bought candy, throw it in the trash. If you are considering sexy underwear for your special partner, forget it. If you are the sort who buys appliances as gifts, leave the room, you’re already too lost to help.
If you want to have the best Valentine’s Day ever, take your lady to a shoe store, let her loose and surrender your credit card to the cashier. You will not regret it.
Women love shoes. The average woman will spend around $25,000 to buy nearly 500 pairs of shoes over her lifetime. At any given time the typical woman will own about 20 pairs of shoes including three pairs of heels, six pairs of flip-flops, flats or sandals, three pairs of boots and four pairs of something dressy. They also keep two pairs of work shoes and several pairs from random, impulse purchases.
Women’s shoes are like swimsuits. The less material used the greater the price. A sensible one-piece swimsuit probably runs about $19.95 at Sears, while a bikini made from a piece of string can run into the thousands of dollars. Granted, men like the string version better, but that’s not up for discussion here. Shoes with linguini straps, rice paper soles and spiked heels will cost at least 50 times the price of a pair of good, sensible hiking shoes.
If you ask why, you’ll get the immediate reply, “would you like to see me in a silky dress wearing hiking boots?” If you live anywhere but the mountains your response to that should be silence.
At last count there are at least 82 gazillion styles of women’s shoes available. You don’t need to know the terms for them all, or the designer names, but for basic survival you should know that women’s shoes come with or without heels, with or without straps to hold them on, and with or without soles or uppers. They might slip on easily, or they might require your assistance with an effort somewhat reminiscent of giving birth.
You should never, ever, offer an opinion about shoe or clothing styles based on what your mother may have told you years ago. Shopping with your partner is not like shopping with your mom when you were a kid. In fact, we strongly suggest you pretty much forget everything your mother ever told you about women’s fashions.
Most women can easily justify shoe purchases to themselves, but at least a quarter of all women keep purchases secret from partners who they claim would not understand. To the modern woman, buying shoes is a psychological thing somewhat akin to the way you might fantasize about tools at Home Depot. Every shoe she tries on is a bit of a Cinderella experience, an indulgence and an affirmation that she is still feminine and beautiful.
And guys, ALL women are beautiful. Get with the program. These are the creatures who clean up after your misadventures in the bathroom and make sure there are cold beers in the fridge. If they want to try on six dozen pairs of shoes at the store, grin and bear it.
Women’s shoes are also about collecting. Men may be able to live with two pairs of shoes, but a woman needs a closetful even if she never wears them all. Just going into the closet and seeing her collection seems to reassure her that all is right with the world. You can tell a hardcore collector because she will even keep her shoes in the original boxes.
For most women, the search itself is more exciting than actually owning the shoes, and shoes are usually not purchased entirely on their own merits. They have to match something in the woman’s wardrobe, but be different to the world at large. This is tricky guys. Women hate to dress like other women, but most are stuck with mass-produced clothing. Trying to be unique is a constant guessing game of what other women are going to wear on any given day. Frankly, it must be exhausting.
The most important thing to learn about women and shoes, or fashion in general, is that men are generally considered idiots. Women believe that men don’t understand them and have no sense of taste or style. Just the same, they want your opinion because they want to please you.
However, you should understand there is a bigger reason for shoe purchases and it is much more important than getting your approval. Women want the recognition and acceptance of other women. The ultimate compliment to a woman is to be asked by another female where she got those cool shoes. Why? Because the other female doesn’t have them.
Buying her shoes (and taking her out to show them off) might not make for the cheapest Valentine’s Day ever, but there is an old saying that you get what you pay for. Gentlemen, if you still want to show up with candy or flowers, don’t say you weren’t warned.
(Get The Backstory and more at Rick’s author blog www.ricktownley.com)
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