Cheap Shoes

“He was a nice-looking man,” she said. “He was the cocky type who knew how good-looking he was. You know?”

No, ma’am. I don’t know. Some of us had to wear paper bags over our heads just to be admitted through the high school doors.

She went on, “It was his money that blinded me. I was a senior, his family was loaded. I felt lucky just to be near him — that’s embarrassing to admit.”

She’s anything but unattractive. Even though the years have piled up, making her skin thin, and hair less bouncy, she still makes average fellas reach for paper bags to wear over their heads.

Take, for instance, this fella.

“It was hard,” she said. “For girls in small towns. It wasn’t just about his money or his looks, but the whole kit and caboodle.”

The kit and caboodle meaning: everything else. Position, local fame, reputation, bragging rights, big-fish-in-a-small-pond stuff.

“My mama cares a lot about what people think of us. She encouraged me to marry for money. She never mentioned love. So I grew up thinking love wasn’t important. I tried to get a rich boy. I got pregnant.”

He married her. But something didn’t feel right. Then, he started cheating on her. At first, it was only when he’d had too much to drink. But then, he started doing it sober.

“He was a spoiled kid,” she said. “I felt like my son and I were just two more things he owned. Like his cars, or his golf clubs, or something.”


So, one night, she left. She took her son and drove to her aunt’s in Mississippi. And that was that.

“He cut us off,” she said. “I lost all my stuff. We were destitute, almost overnight. I had to get a job at the grocery store.”

She wiped her eyes. “Anyway, I met someone. He worked at a steel processing mill. He loved me and my son, and we loved him. He still makes me happy.” She closed her eyes. “I feel bad for my son. His father hasn’t seen him in twenty years.”

People can be hideous when they want to be.

“It’s humbling. My hometown friends look at me different, because my clothes come from Target and Walmart now. See these shoes? Six dollars.” She laughed. “I’m just a regular wife and mother. I’m nobody important anymore.”

I don’t know where you heard that, darling.

You’re about as important as it gets.


  1. Mona Stephens - May 10, 2017 11:18 am

    Lord, I enjoy your stories. I’m from rural Mississippi, grew up with 7
    Siblings, a real smokehouse, and a mother who was mostly a saint. Still love Bear Bryant with all my heart, and Love Saban almost that much.

  2. Sue Cronkite - March 1, 2018 1:18 pm

    She wasn’t destitute if she was with her aunt. She had family who cared enough to take her in. That’s the way family ought to be.I am proud of her for having the courage to leave the spoiled rich guy.


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