I was a young girl during the 1960’s and was madly in love with the crazy wild colorful fashions of the day. Bell bottoms, miniskirts, and…
Maybe it was the hippie dippie dancers on Laugh-In that triggered my passion. I don’t recall. But, oh, how I loved those boots! I wanted a pair so badly, the way all children want what they want. Beyond reason, without cost-to-benefit analysis, without practical consideration. The heart’s yearning is fathomless, and fulfillment of the wish feels like a life-or-death matter.
I pleaded with my mother for a pair of those boots. The way I begged for Lady Janes when I was in first grade, when my mother explained dispassionately to me that patent leather shoes were not practical. They didn’t BREATHE. Her answer back then was a resounding unequivocal no.
As it was this time, of course.
Lucky for me, the Universe heard my prayer and decided to answer it. A neighborhood friend’s sister had outgrown her knee-high, white patent leather, zippered, clunky-heeled, authentic GoGo boots. They were in perfect condition, and she offered them to me for free. I was in heaven! I confess, they were a little bit tight on my feet, too. They weren’t so comfortable for walking any distance. But I cherished them. I loved wearing them around the house, playing dress-up, and just gazing at them on my closet floor. Those boots were bliss.
Meanwhile, massive riots were plaguing urban areas around the country. We were living outside Buffalo, New York when the 1967 riot ravaged that city. An organization called the “Fresh Air Fund” started soliciting suburban families to take inner city kids for a few weeks during the summer to give them a break from the violence surrounding them. My mom, ever the champion of underdogs and the underprivileged, happily signed up and sponsored two young children to join our family for two weeks that summer.
Without question, it was a noble and wonderful gesture. But this benevolence precipitated the demise of my brief love affair with the GoGo boots.
Unbeknownst to me, at some point during that two-week visit my mother must have discussed my GoGo boots with the young girl we were hosting. I don’t know what the discussion was, or how it came about, but it prompted my mother to give my boots to her, without asking my permission or telling me beforehand. One day my lovely GoGo boots simply disappeared from my closet floor and WentWent into the suitcase of this young girl as she packed for the drive home to Buffalo.
I was upset. I felt betrayed. When I complained, my mother made me feel ashamed for wanting to keep the boots, intimating that I was selfish. She calmly declared: “They don’t even fit you!” I felt guilty for resenting that my prized possession was re-gifted to someone else, without a whisper of consultation or an ounce of compassion for my hurt feelings and profound sense of loss.
It remains a conundrum to me. My mother is a sweet, loving, caring human being. I cannot explain why she felt this outright theft was justified or excusable. Her desire to mitigate the suffering of another child must have blinded her and superseded any concern she might have had for the suffering of her own.
Throughout my life my mother expressed deep concern for other children, the disadvantaged, the deprived, especially those starving kids in Biafra. She had an irrepressible desire to rescue them all. It never made sense to me. How could she feel so passionately about these strangers and overlook so easily the emotionally starved children much closer to home?