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Small Talk: Thrills cheap and plenty from red tennies

I still wince as I watch “Sex and the City” reruns and one of the girls spends $200 to $400 on a pair of shoes. But there is a part of me that truly does understand, and that part had a good week.

Never mind that I will never be a Rodeo Drive shoe shopper. I am a sucker for red shoes. I can be equally moved by an inexpensive pair, if they turn out to be exactly what I want. My new red sandals are just that. Wearing them just makes me feel more fashionable.

I don’t know why I’m surprised. My first memory of a favorite outfit was as I walked to school in the fifth grade. My mom had sewn me a fabulous, black-and-white skirt under which I wore multiple, fluffy petticoats. I wore that skirt paired with a crisp, white blouse and red sweater and what may have been my first pair of red tennies. I felt like a million bucks.

My memory hops to college when I had a glorious pair of red patent leather high-heeled sandals that made me very popular in the sorority house. The motto back then was, “The first one up is the best one dressed.”

These days I love my red shoes even more if they are comfortable and I have gotten them for a great price. There are few delights equal to browsing the discount-store shoe shelves and coming upon a perfect pair.

I still mourn a pair of clog-style red tennis shoes I got for a steal. They were not only supremely comfortable, but they drew compliments every time I wore them. I hated it when they finally wore out. I always keep my eyes open but hadn’t hit that magic combination of right fit, the right price and the right color for quite a while. After all, there is red and then there is rose, persimmon, cardinal, cherry, claret, crimson, maroon, ruby, russet, scarlet, vermilion, wine and brick.

This week, I was actually being selfless, buying shoes for my daughter at a BOGO store.

As we browsed, I spotted some cute sandals in Navy blue. I held my breath, hoped she’d only find one pair she liked, so I could grab mine for half price. But as I went to grab them in my size, I realized they also came in red. Oh, the agonizing decision. Go-with-everything shoes or but-they’re-red shoes.

Red won, as always.

Change-your-mood shoes don’t have to be red, but they often are. When you put on those special kicks, it just makes your day. You feel better, even prettier, pulled together, stylish and smart. Once you get that first compliment, the deal is sealed. You can’t wipe the grin off your face for hours.

For some, it takes $400 to accomplish that. In my world, it can be done with $25 and simple red canvas. As my dad used to say, “With these shoes I can run faster, jump higher, stop on a dime and give you nine cents change.” Oh yeah.

Jean Gillette is a freelance writer with happy feet. Contact her at