When I was five and six, I used to go next door to Andrea's house. She was a rebellious teenager in the early 70s. She had her own huge bedroom and the central thing I remember was a wood vanity table with a mirror. When Andrea opened up the vanity drawer, I would look in and see Heaven - tube after tube of lipstick, little plastic cases of eyeshadow, mascara, blush, bottles of perfume. As someone who played beauty parlor 24/7 in my own home, this was Nirvana, and a big step up because it was the real deal: Andrea got to wear this stuff outside the house.
Andrea would spend time putting makeup and perfume on me. All the while, we'd be listening to a Rod Stewart album. The music sounded dangerous: that raspy voice, that hard driving beat.
Then she'd slide open the door to her closet. It was stuffed with clothes and the whole bottom of it was lined with shoes. Shoes. Surveying the selection, I picked a pair to try on. They were Candie's. You may not know this, but Candie's did not originate with Jenny McCarthy's trashy ads. They came from the 70s. Andrea had a pair made of light, laminated, fake wood. They had a clear plastic strap that went across the toes. The piece de resistance was the bunch of brightly-colored plastic fruit that perched atop the clear toe strap. It was 3-D fruit, the kind a dog might mistake for the real thing.
When I tried on Fruity Candie's - again, Heaven. I felt big, glamorous, showy, and a bit shy. I walked around the room, listening to Rod Stewart. I was hot stuff; my beauty parlor pals would be jealous.
I remember feeling sad and empty when it was time to leave Andrea's room. When I put the shoes back in the closet and she slid the door shut, I felt sadder still. I could have looked at those shoes forever.
When I got home, my mom complained about the stench of the perfume I was wearing. The magic of Andrea's was wearing off. Still, the spirit of the Fruity Candie's shoes stayed in my heart.