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lost soles

I really like a well-made shoe. I find a pair of shoes that are comfortable and stylin’ and I’ll wear them until the soles are gone. Then, I take them in to have them re-soled. My girlfriend thinks I’m nuts. I explain to her that a quality shoe with a good leather sole is made to be repaired. She says I’m being a cheapskate. Says that when a shoe wears out you buy a new pair.

I upped it a notch. I went into her closet and started pulling out random pairs of shoes. She has lots. Some of them are pure crap, others are really nice. “Look at these boots,” I said. “You loved them, but you don’t wear them anymore. They can build up the heel and they’d be good as new. Better than new, because they’re already broken-in to your feet.”

Well, somehow this escalated into an argument about how we handle our money. She topped it off by throwing the boots in the wastebasket. This is where it gets complicated.

The next morning, taking out the trash on my way to work, I fished out the boots and took them to the cobbler. I figured I’d show her how nicely they could be repaired. Then, that night, she asks me what happened to her boots. She’d changed her mind and wanted to give the shoe repair man a try. Now her boots were gone.

I froze. Reflexively, I said they must’ve gone out when I took out the trash. She started to cry. I was stuck. I couldn’t say anything.

Yes, you may say I’ll be a hero when I bring the shoes back all fixed up. But you don’t know my girlfriend. There’s no telling how she’ll react to my scheming and lying. Do I bring the boots back and face the music, or do I just eat the $20 repair and give them to a thrift store?

Shoe Gazer

The Practical Cogitator says: Sounds a lot like ‘the Gift of the Magi’ to me. I suppose the reaction from your girlfriend will depend entirely on your presentation of the boots. Did you have them repaired so she would be happy with her boots? Or did you have them repaired to say “I told you so”? If you repaired them so that she would be happy, then she probably will be happy. If you used the boots to prove that you are right and she is wrong, then she probably will never wear those boots again, as every time she dons them, she’ll remember this argument.

If she is crying over the boots, (and I can understand love of footwear) maybe you should just tell her that you took the boots to be repaired. Tell her that you love her and you want her to have her nice boots in good repair. Whatever you do, do not save the boots for a holiday gift. Just give them to her when they are ready. Unwrapping used boots, which are the object of argument, is certain to ruin everyones holiday.

The Straight Skinny: Sometimes an argument—or a letter to an advice column—reveals something quite other than what’s on the surface. So it is with your query, which purports to be (and which you may believe to be) about shoe repair. It’s not.

Your girlfriend wanted her boots back. You knew where her boots were. You froze up and lied, and she started crying, and you still didn’t tell her the truth. What’s going on there? What made you panic? Why didn’t you tell her the truth? What’s the big deal with the boots? Why is she crying? Why won’t you come clean? What is this argument really about?

Because I may disagree with my partner about cobblers, or tailors, or dry cleaners, but we don’t end up panicked or sobbing, and we aren’t so afraid of one another that we can’t tell each other the truth.The Omniscient One says:Your girl may have some questionable consumerism habits, but what the hell is the matter with you? When she asked you what happened to her boots why didn’t you just say you took them to the cobbler? You “froze” and said they went out with the trash? You created a complicated “situation” where none existed. You lied! You need to be examining yourself, not your girlfriend.

Strictly Classified says: Give her the boots, and don’t make a big deal about it. I personally don’t see this as a major transgression on your part. Besides, you are right, good shoes are meant to be repaired. Both you and your lady-friend should pick your battles wisely.

Smart Money says: What the hell? Is she always like this? Money is the last thing you need to worry about. Give her the boots and some medication. Good luck!

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