Shoes as a metaphor for pretty.



A friend sent me a link to these shoes this week with the caption, “These were made for you!”  Sigh.  She got the tense right, “were” made for me.  I have a thing for pretty and vintage pretty?  Forget about it.  Love it.  1958-1963 pretty?  Adore it.  But when I opened the link to these shoes my first thought was, “Oh, never.  I would never wear those now.”  I have evolved from peep toe kitten heels to black flats.  Plain and simple, tried and true.  I am now a black flat kind of gal. 

What’s changed?, I asked myself.  When exactly did this evolution take place?  Before my first kid?  After my second kid?  When I hit forty?  Honestly, I don’t think I could pinpoint it.  Mothering certainly has something to do with it.  A long, satisfying marriage may have contributed.  Don’t get me wrong – – I have not given up on myself, haven’t thrown in the proverbial towel on caring about how I look and have no intention of “letting myself go.”  I am as vain as ever, as self-conscious as ever.  My feminist ideology doesn’t mean I don’t want to look good for my man and my kids.  I do.  And for me, too. 

Has practicality seeped into my being, influencing my shoe buying tendencies?  I was the gal who would mock the unfortunate gals on “What Not To Wear.”  You know the ones – – they whined about the need for comfort, clutching their respective Sketchers, Birkenstocks, chunky heel monstrosities tight to their bosom.  Oh, yee of little style, I would shake my head at them.  Comfort is never an excuse for ugly. 

I still don’t do ugly.  I simply don’t put a priority on Pretty quite as much.  Capital “P” Pretty.  Fussy pretty is no longer in my repetoire.  Now I am straight up, no fuss pretty.  Lowercase “p” pretty.  Super-cute Audrey Hepburn black flat pretty. 

A year or so ago I let my 18 year old niece raid my closet.  Most of the Capital “P” Pretty shoes were half a size down from my current size – – purchased before kids.  Her current size.  She went to town and drove home with half a trunk full of some of my favorite shoes I no longer wore or that no longer fit.  And she wears the hell out of them.  The burnished golden well heeled sandals with the vintage broach are a standard for her now.  The multi-colored hand sequined pumps?  She rocks those with jeans and dresses.  An 18 year old cheerleader requires Capital “P” Pretty.  Me?  Not so much.  I’m pretty happy over here in my lowercase “p” pretty kind of way.  Right now if I look down I see black leather flats.  No fuss.  No muss, just pretty.  



What are you wearing?


Mother Nature is in menopause.

I wish I could take credit for that line, as it is surely genius, but alas, I cannot.  The credit goes to my Philly transplant friend, Anne.  How cruel Chicago must seem to a gal that moved to Chicago in January, and now is still stuck in stubborn winter’s last grip.  Sigh.

I don’t know about you, but I am sick of this spring-in-holding-pattern-feeling-more-like-November-than-April weather we’re having.  Imma vent here, rail at the Universe, because surely the Universe is amongst my three readers.  Seriously, what does a gal have to do around here to get some rays, feel the warm light of sunshine on her face, revel in the tulips standing so mighty and proud?  Are you with me?

Okay.  I’m a little cranky.  Too early for menopause for me, so I’ll blame this weather we’re enduring. This morning the sun shines, but it’s 34 degrees, people.  Are we supposed to feel grateful for these few hours of sun, knowing that the chill remains and the clouds and rain are on standby?  April showers can suck it.   


Mayor Daley is my hero.

You’ve got to really like someone to name your kid after them.  I mean, it’s kind of a big deal to bestow that particular honor.  Mary Tyler Son is named after our soon to be retiring Mayor.  Not Richard, that’s too obvious. 

And not Dick, that’s just mean – – I love my boy.  Mary Tyler Son’s middle name is Daley.  No joke.  I’d tell you his first name, but then folks would really make fun of me. 

When our boy was born Mr. Mary Tyler Mom, New England born and bred as he is, needed a bit of convincing and coaxing before agreeing to my South Side Irish request, but just a bit.  Our rationale is that we wanted Mary Tyler Son to know where he came from and what better way than to slap on Daley as his moniker. 

I mean, seriously folks, what other word comes close to calling forth our Second City more so than Daley?  Mary Tyler Son is gonna know where his roots are.  When he grows up and chooses to leave behind his old mom and dad, Sweet Home Chicago will always be whispering his name.

I’ve been trying to get a photo with Mary Tyler Son and his namesake since last August, before Richard M. announced his retirement plans.  I wrote a nice letter, attached a photo of the happy family to demonstrate we were benign a family as they come, and sent it off to City Hall, as instructed by the rude girl answering the phone at the Mayor’s office.  Nothing.  Huh.

I reached out to my old neighbor, the former liquor commissioner.  Nothing.  Huh.  I reached out to my alderman, whose aide told me, and I quote, “Nobody wants to waste a favor with the Mayor.” 

I reached out to my mom’s best friend’s daughter, now married to another alderman.  That looked promising, but then, nothing.  Huh.  I sent other letters.  Nothing.  Huh.   

When Richard M. announced his retirement, I shed a few tears.  I’m not kidding.  I didn’t understand it myself until I read Mary Schmich’s column about him being a father figure to the whole of the City a day or so later.  Then I got it. 

Soon after I started this odyssey, that announcement came and I panicked, and then I thought, nah, it’s too good a story, he’s gonna eat it up – – seriously, what higher compliment is there than to ensure a legacy through a namesake?  Tsk, tsk, tsk, who knew it would be so hard?  Certainly not I.  But never underestimate the powers of a determined mother.  Never. 

Growing up Irish Catholic in the south suburbs, you couldn’t help but respect our own home grown Kennedys.  The day Richard J. died in office, I was six and playing at a neighbor’s home.  I heard the news on their tee vee and scooted home pronto.  I wanted to be with my family. 

My six year old self felt that I needed to be with family.  I sat, rapt, and watched Fahey Flynn, another Chicago Irish icon I wanted to name a kid after (Mr. Mary Tyler Mom put his foot down on that one) report the news. The end of an era, it was.  But then, just thirteen years later, Richard M. moved into City Hall.   

Mayor Daley II and I have something in common.  We are both members of what I sadly refer to as the “terrible fraternity” – – parents who have buried a child. He lost a young son, two years old, I believe, to spina biffada in the early 80s. 

I had met Mayor Daley before, at a Children’s Memorial Hospital event we were invited to when my dear Donna was going through her cancer treatment.  I saw a smile on his face, but sadness in his eyes.  It really made an impression on me. 

I didn’t know at that time that he had lost a son, but when I read that fact a year or so later, my memories jumped back to the event at Children’s and the sadness in those eyes.  I understand that sadness now.  It is my sadness, too.  It is a bitch (all apologies, Dad, I promised I would not swear). 

So, yeah, Mayor Daley is my hero.  He wakes up every day and gets through that day and sleeps to wake again.  Being relatively new in my grief, that means something to me.  And through his grief, he championed what he lovingly refers to as “the best City in the world.”

Politics aside, folks, he loves his home, I love my home, it is our home.  Last weekend, Mr. Mary Tyler Mom and I brought little Mary Tyler Son to the Neighborhood Appreciation Tour to meet his namesake.  He did, we did, and here’s the shot to prove it: