26 June, 2006

The Case of the Pretentious Sneakers

Lord have mercy, I have reached a new low in this town where money can seem like another member of the family: constantly disappearing when it's most needed, demanding, worrying. For weeks, nay, months, Avery has been complaining that her sneakers (or as they are known in England, "trainers") were too flat, too small and just plain bad. I have received these frequent updates with a distinct lack of enthusiasm, because every time we pop into a shoe store to rectify the situation, there are no white trainers (uniform rules apply even to footwear), or none in Avery's size, or too many other people in line. Today, however, instead of playing tennis, Form Four practiced for Sports Day and Avery won one race and came in second in the other. Hampered as she was by low-performance equipment, this seemed impressive. So even though we had with us (in the pelting rain) one bag containing an enormous bottle of aloe vera juice for my delicate condition, one school rucksack containing the paper supply for a small developing nation, one gym bag containing a rumpled school uniform and the offending old shoes, one tennis racket, and one precariously-built model of a Viking ship created entirely from paper, it was deemed that a shopping trip to Selfridges was necessary. Oh, and an umbrella donated by my friend Susan at pickup to shelter said Viking ship. And a grocery bag full of ingredients for spaghetti and meatballs.

So off we went, stopping so Avery could have a snack at Patisserie Valerie and have the fun of dumping all these belongings on the floor in a wet pile. Enter Selfridges. Which happens to be having its semi-annual "Buy me, I will change your life" sale. These words are emblazoned on every vertical surface in the store, in the slanting black and white letters on gray made famous by the artist Barbara Kruger. Are they just copying her? I must find out. We stood disconsolately in front of the enormous board proclaiming on what floors various items could be found. "There! Kids on 3!" Avery shouted. "If I stand here long enough, will it say 'Kids on Ground Floor?" I asked. We fought our way up three flights of escalators, through the sale crowds, past endless displays of unnecessary materialist fodder. Who were all these people? I began to have misanthropic fantasies about throwing them all over the glass walls surrounding the escalator shaft, to land in the Pink display of tuxedo shirts. No matter. We found the children's area, also in sale hell, and dear readers, you will understand my chagrin when I found that the ONLY pair of white sneakers left in Avery's size was... Dolce e Gabbana.

Mind you, I don't even own anything by Dolce e Gabbana. The fact that Madonna's daughter is decked out from head to foot in custom made garments by this pair of Italian fashionistas (or is fashionisto, if they're men?) only adds to the glamour. I remember that Mr. Dolce and Mr. Gabbana, whoever they are in real life, caused ripples of fear and anxiety throughout the world of people who spend money on clothes, when they broke up their love affair. But devotion to fashion knows no bounds, so they still design clothes together. And tiny children's footwear too, apparently. I have to admit, they're cute. And they look very well-made. Avery was extremely appreciative and feels that she might well win several races in them. And they WERE 40% off, after all. Which makes them only twice as much as you would pay under normal circumstances. What ARE normal circumstances? I don't remember. Wish her luck on Wednesday morning. And hey, guess what? At least the Prada trainers were all sold out in her size.

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