“I’ve become a stalker, I say. I’m stalking a pair of boots.”

Downtown Toronto. I’m walking home on slippery sidewalks, my husband’s dry cleaning in one hand and a grocery bag in the other. I stop in front of a shoe store and fumble in my coat pocket for my trusty to-do list. I look up, distracted by the display window, and that’s when I see them: a pair of black suede traditional riding boots. They have a 5” black, croco-embossed patent-leather rim at the top, which gives them a modern twist, as does the slightly rounded toe and circular patent leather buckle at the ankle.

“Now those could tempt me!” I say to myself.

I look down at the sturdy black vinyl boots on my feet and console myself with the fact that my boots fit my urban life: the treads are good for walking on icy sidewalks as I run errands. I look up at the beautiful riding boots in the window, then turn and walk away.

A few days later, I’m walking home from work wearing my worn-out boots, a new to-do list in hand, and decide to swing by the shoe store. The boots are even more beautiful than I remembered! Until now, the price has been a blur, so I put on my glasses and it becomes clear: They are very expensive. I don’t go in.

“What if they fit?” I ask myself. “It’s going to be harder not to buy them once they’re on.” I continue walking home. The fact that I didn’t try them on doesn’t keep me from fantasizing about them. I picture myself wearing the riding boots to The Nutcracker. It’s intermission and I’m holding a glass of champagne. I’ve always wanted to see The Nutcracker. Why not this year? And wearing the boots, to boot! I envision myself having Sunday brunch with my best friend at a French bistro, or at a Saturday night movie and late dinner with my husband at an Italian restaurant. In each scene, my head is thrown back in an uncontrollable fit of laughter. It’s the 3D version of my 2D life.

Days later I return to see the riding boots. My nose is pressed to the glass. I marvel at the fine workmanship of the seams and stitching. I admire the elegant circular shape of the buckle. With each glance, I notice something new about them.

A man comes to the shoe store window. I assume he’s the owner. He smiles. I smile back. His smile broadens. I don’t go in. I leave and phone my sister for help.
“I’ve become a stalker,” I say. “I’m stalking a pair of boots.”

“Go in and try them on,” she says. “You know you want to.”

She’s right. I decide to try on the boots first thing in the morning.

Early the next day, I look in the shoe store window. I notice the merchandise in the window has been shifted around. Some items have been marked down. In a panic, I see that the riding boots aren’t there—another pair of boots is in its place with an “on sale” sign beside it.

“The suede riding boots in the window with the patent leather croco trim,” I say to the saleslady. “They’re gone!” I follow her to the back of the store. She stops in front of the only shelf without an “on sale” sign, but there I find the boots. I feel their fine suede and am filled with excitement.

“What size?” she asks.


She heads to the stockroom. I sit down, take off my boots, and wait. I warn myself that they must fit perfectly. They are not serious winter boots. Buying them would be an indulgence. The saleslady comes out of the stockroom empty-handed.

“We have six-and-a-half and ten-and-a-half left,” she says.

I consider this. They no longer have size nine. What about trying on the ten-and-a-half? It could work if I wore a few extra pairs of socks. Too hot! I say to myself. “Then what about the six-and-a-half?”

Like Cinderella’s wicked stepsister, I consider the possibility of squeezing into them. Out of consideration for the boots’ impeccable stitching, I decide against it.

“What make are they?” I ask, and hand the boot back to her. She places it on the shelf.

“They’re Italian.”

The disappointment must show on my face, because she gets a pen and writes the details about the boot on a card.

I walk home filled with regret.

“If I’d gone in the first day I spotted them, I bet they would have had my size,” I say to myself. Because I hesitated, there’s now a woman in Toronto wearing the size nine boots that should have been mine. As I walk, I look down at the boots of the women passing by. I see stunning boots, but I don’t see the ones.

“Don’t,” I say to myself. “Don’t do the what ifs.”

I go home. I take out the card the saleslady gave me and search for the boots on the Internet. I first try to find other high-end shoe stores in Toronto that might carry them, but am unable to find any. Next, I search on eBay and many other sites in hopes of being able to order them online. I find footwear by the same Italian designer: pumps, ankle boots, loafers, and knee-length boots. There is a signature look of elegance to all of them, but I can’t find the suede riding boots anywhere in cyberland.

A couple of weeks later, I write “buy winter boots” in big, bold letters at the top of my current to-do list. I have events to attend over the holiday season and my old faithfuls simply won’t do. The ones I buy are more versatile than the spectacular riding boots in the window. They’re leather, chic enough to wear even when you’re really dressed up, yet they have a tread and fleece lining. Not only do they look good, but they provide warmth and protection. I get them on sale, too. What more could I ask for? But while I appreciate my new boots, it’s not love. I still fantasize about the suede riding boots in the window and think about what might have been.

I try to console myself that the reality of owning the suede riding boots could never be as good as the fantasy. If I’d bought them, I’d have watched helplessly as they got salt stains on them, as they aged and became worn down. I’d have had great times in them, yes, but probably not so great times as well. This way, I will always remember them as they were: perched in the store window, flawless, and full of possibility—waiting for the perfect outing, waiting for the perfect owner. It could have been me, but that doesn’t have to stop me. I buy a ticket to “The Nutcracker” anyway.

I’m looking forward to entering the magical world of the Snow Queen and Sugar Plum Fairy. What fun! At intermission, I may not be wearing the suede riding boots, but I can assure you, I will be holding a glass of champagne.

Published by She Does The City
September 17, 2013