I AM BEGINNING to understand an important part of the Cinderella myth. The part about the shoes. In her case it was a glass slipper that the prince used to track down the lady of his dreams.
OK, in the story he meets this girl at a masquerade ball, and she leaves her glass slipper behind at the stroke of midnight. Then he goes out to find her. In some versions, he searches alone; in other versions, he dispatches his servants.
It's the idea of using a shoe to search for someone that strikes me now.
I am single and dating. Trying to date, anyway. And I have gone through a number of ways to meet men who are interesting and nice. But I've come up with a formula for describing the men I like.
What do my friends ask me after a date? What is the essential question that sorts the field? After all the philosophical musings about his personality, career, maturity and his concern for the inner self, what do my friends ask about last night's date?
What kind of shoes does he wear?
What kind of shoes is what we ask each other. I know it sounds trite, but a wrong guy, a guy who gets no call back, is a guy with bad shoes. Not euphemistically bad shoes. Just plain bad shoes. These are vinyl shoes, sometimes brown shoes, white shoes (unless the date was for tennis), or they are shoes with words or doodads on them.
Maybe I could go at this a different way. Maybe I could start with the shoes.
I was in a shoe store last week with a woman friend. She was buying Birkenstock sandals. These are definitely bad shoes. I know they are healthful, comfortable and politically correct, but they are ugly.
Anyway, while she was trying on shoes I was looking at the display shoes, and I said, "Find me the man who wears these Cole Haan loafers or these soft brown Reebok oxfords." These are nice-guy shoes, shoes for a guy who is nice and who has a little style. These are shoes for the guy who has some care for his appearance but not Gucci flash or the stiffness of Brooks Brothers brogues.
I thought maybe I could work a deal with the sales clerk. Leave her some of my business cards and ask her to give them to men who buy these shoes. I also thought of doing it on my own, maybe leaving a note with my phone number in the display shoe. Something like: "If you like these shoes, maybe we'd like each other. Call to check it out."
Does this sound desperate? I'm not, really. I have been married. I'm not looking for kids or a daddy, just a nice man to see on Saturday night, and if he's still there on Sunday morning for coffee and the New York Times, that's OK, too.
This shoe connection can't be any worse than "Discussions for Singles" or the loser lottery in the personal ads. At least I'd meet someone with good taste in shoes.
It's a starting point. Besides, it worked for the prince.
Diane Oklota Wood writes from Baltimore.