By: Phil Sartain
The Banks County News
December 5, 2001
Stepping out on the town
We went to New York for Thanksgiving. We saw the sights, the bright lights, and the plays. And except for one near-fatal flaw on my part, it was a perfect trip. Once again, I showed total fashion incompetence, and thus wrote an entirely new episode in the continuing saga of My Life as a Fashion Mistake.
My oversight didnt hit me until we were actually in the heart of Manhattan. The truth be known, New York is about like every other large urban area - the dress code is grimly monochromatic. In other words, the more black you wear, the better.
Visualize New York as the Land of Johnny Cash and youll get the picture: black shirts, black pants, black coats, ties, socks, nail polish, hats, nose rings and, as far as I know, underwear. But most important, to be in New York is to wear brooding black shoes. The heavier and the clompier the better.
My fashion ensemble was characteristically anemic. Still, I was able to patch together enough dark fabric to avoid easy detection as just another hayseed tourist just off the bus. Ultimately, though, I failed my fashion inspection by appearing in the Big Black Apple wearing brown shoes. I mistakenly thought that they were dark enough to get under the fashion radar screen. But I was wrong and I was pointed out immediately. Even worse, I spoke Southern so pure and clear that I might as well have been speaking Martian. I was so unintelligible I couldnt defend myself.
Faced with public ostracism or hiding in my room for four days, I decided to try the department stores for help. I sheepishly told the clerk that I needed some black shoes. You see, the airline lost my shoe bag and they gave me these unfashionable brown shoes as loaners. Theyre making me queasy just looking at them.
You should sue the airline, she said in a faint fake French accent. No one should be forced to wear such shoes.
Yes, maybe later. But right now, I need to see something in a black shoe. Right away, she brought me something to try on - a black shoe with an enormous square toe and an oversized sole and heel. It was serviceable, but overall it lacked an essential New York shoe quality - it wasnt ugly enough.
Do you have something a little uglier? I asked, feeling like she was holding back the good stuff on account of my accent.
I dont understand, she gestured. This shoe is very ugly. Its ugly with just about everything. Its an all-occasion ugly. Youll be fine in it.
She was obviously trying to fob off a discontinued line on me like I was some hayseed right off the bus. My wife and I are going to the theater while are here. That shoe is not nearly ugly enough for the artsy crowd. And besides, its not clompy looking.
But she persisted. Just walk around in it a bit. Youll see. Its just like wearing a pair of bricks for shoes.
No, I said firmly. Dont you have something in a hobnailed boot? She gave me a puzzled look. Theyre all the rage in Georgia right now. We walked all over Tennessee in our hobnaileds just recently.
Suddenly, she gave me a knowing look, recognizing me as the real fashion plate that Im destined to be. She excused herself and was back in just a second carrying a big box. Inside was a pair of the biggest, blackest, clompiest, and most extraordinarily ugly shoes I have ever seen. We just got them in and Im not even supposed to have them on the floor yet. Theyre called Frankensteins. Theyre imported.
Of course, I bought them immediately and clomped out of the store, down Broadway, and never looked back. From that point forward I might as well have been a native New Yorker. No one even laughed when I ordered grits for breakfast. They just thought I was ordering haute cuisine. Like I said, it was a great trip.
Now that were back home, Ive put the Frankensteins away. I like them OK, but I dont think my hometown is quite ready for them. Just to be honest, Im afraid if I wear them, the neighbors are going to chase me down the street with torches. After all, people down here have decidedly strong feelings about shoe fashion, too.
Philip Bond Sartain is a Gainesville attorney.
Letters to the Editor
December 5, 2001
Columnist living in fantasy world
Shar Porier, what tree did you fall out of? I will take your suggestion and convince all of my friends to stop buying your newspaper and save tons of trees. You never know which one you will be sleeping in! You need to spend a year in Russia, it will cure you of your little fantasy.
Reader offers thanks for help with program
The Veterans Day United We Stand Ceremony, November 11, was a great success! All veterans were honored and active servicemen and women were given full support. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the following: Petals & More, The Pottery, Anns Florist, Vivians Florist, Ruths Florist, Town of Homer, Mayor, Council and employees, Banks Co. Commissioners, Churches of Banks County, Woodmen of the World, Phylis McClure, Henry Galloway, Bruce Rodgers, Jeanette Amos, Fred Wendt, Thomas Wilson, The advisory committee: Kelly Ayers, Mattie Jean Ayers, Carla Brooks, Janet Galloway, Kasey Wilson, Clifton Hill and Donald Hill.
Those who were so gracious to participate in the Program: Rev. Robert Hill, Bro. Jim McLendon, Pastor Fred Wilson, Diane Purcell, Carla Brooks, Erin Gordon, Meg Brown, Dennis Gordon, Mark Garrison, Mike Brown, Jayda Richey, Gloria Rylee, Jack Banks, Bobby Blackwell, Ken Brady, Banks County American Legion, the Homer and Banks County Fire Departments and everyone who attended.