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Yesterday, on my most delicious and probably gratuitous snow day, I completed some much-needed errands.  The main roads were clear enough to feel safe, and the smaller neighborhood streets still haven’t been cleared, even on the snow day.  And, of course, in anticipation of tomorrow’s blizzard, schools have been closed preemptively.  Huzzah!!

After dropping off some library books, and cursing to myself as I realized the DVD I borrowed from the library and was preparing to return was not actually its case, I drove down to the tiny dance shop in the anonymous strip mall nearby and I purchased character shoes. 

Character shoes were first described to me as “heels, but more comfortable,” so I thought there was some advanced technology in them, like cushioned springs, or optical illusions to make the wearer seem taller.  I wondered, if they were so comfortable, why weren’t all heels made in their model?  Turns out, they’re merely cushiony leather-soled shoes for dancing.  But now I have a pair! 

I didn’t have a pair last fall for my last play, so I made do with an $8.00 pair of what I call “China flats” which I purchased in high school for the plays I was in back then.  They’re essentially black cotton Mary Janes with a completely flat sole.  No arch support, no frills.  And they worked just fine for my black costume in the fall, but I felt a bit foolish as everyone else strapped on their Real Theatre Shoes.  And now, into my second play, with actual time to run to the dance store on a snow day, I finally bit the bullet.  For $36, I have purchased legitimacy with ankle straps. 

I have a hesitancy in making certain purchases, not that $36 was so expensive for a pair of shoes, not that I couldn’t justify buying them, not that I don’t absolutely love shoes and theatre, and the marriage of the two in Theatre Shoes, but I put it off.  I could have had a great excuse in the fall to buy black character shoes, and then I’d get to buy tan ones now!  I could have been the proud owner of two pairs, but I waited. 

I do this sometimes.  I wait.  I see if I can make do without.  It’s not an experiment in anti-consumerism.  It’s not a yearlong blog project to see how many theatrical costumes I can create from my extant wardrobe.  It’s not even a spousal mandate to stop hogging closet space with all my footwear.  I just wait sometimes, to see if I’m really going to enjoy the new activity I’m starting, if it’s really something I’m going to continue, if it’s something for which I should actually invest in the paraphernalia. And then I make the plunge. 

Otherwise, I think we’d end up with the proverbial sporting goods closet full of equipment for things tried once or twice.  Mr. Apron’s father and grandfather tried in vain to interest him in a sport, running the gambit from real sports like soccer and baseball, on through to tennis, roller-skating, and even the marginal “sport” of golf.  As a result, there are racquets, clubs, a white leather glove, and who-knows-what else in his parents’ basement, serving as souvenirs of good intentions.  I don’t want to live amongst the trappings of aborted ventures serving to remind me of my failures.  It’s bad enough to live with equipment I don’t use as much as I’d like – my skis, my snowboard, our bicycles – or things I used to use, but haven’t touched in ages – my bassoon, my clarinet.  And then there’s all the yarn I have squirreled away from my botched attempt into the world of knitting. 

So I want to make sure I’m really going to use the new things I bring home. 

I’m also hopelessly cheap.  I mean, frugal.  Cheap is what my grandfather was, for not ever changing the spark plugs in his Lincoln and driving across the country to my parents’ wedding, necessitating that my father, the soon-to-be groom, undertake that deed before he let them try to drive home.  Frugal is very in vogue now.  Yes, I’m frugal. 

Way back when I apparently began this trend all the recessionistas are now bandwagoning, I was a frugal high school student nerdily plodding my way through, among other things, honors math classes.  Though the teachers always stated which kind of calculator was mandatory, most kids acquired the Texas Instruments graphing calculators (“nice, but not necessary” we were told) early on, until, in senior year, I was the only one in honors calculus left with merely a scientific calculator (price tag: ~$20, as opposed to the $90 TI-84).  And I made do, I got away with it.  Though my parents could have afforded the pricier toy, and would have bought it for me if I said I “needed it” (they bought one for my younger brother), I felt it was unnecessary.  Sure, I never got to play Frogger or the drug dealing game many people had on their calculators.  I never programmed the quadratic formula in for a little “help” on test day.  No one knew the full extent of what those things could do.  They were a little intimidating.  And I didn’t need one. 

Made it through college calc without one, too.  I’m kind of proud about that, actually.  I’m even a little smug. 

But I think I do want to wear my new shoes as I embark on what will hopefully be an enjoyable run in the world of community theatre.  Fortunately, in the world of community theatre, the price of “fitting in” is only $36.

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February 2010