Monday, April 30, 2007

Wine, Women and Shoes

That defines every woman I know. I’m not sure why so many women have an obsession with their collection of uncomfortable shoes. I own six pairs of shoes and two pairs qualify as boots and one as sneakers. I have a pair of deck shoes, one pair of brown everyday shoes, a pair of black shoes, hiking boots, a pair of Wellington boots I put on when I have to shovel snow and some sneakers I got for Christmas that I’ve never worn because they are too white to wear in public; I’ll have to get them fashionably dirty in the back yard first.

A woman I know is an aspiring Imelda Marcos. Imelda Marcos was the wife of the former President of the Philippines whose proclivity for shoes was legendary. She had tens of thousands of shoes. My shoe-loving friend has a much smaller collection of shoes but with a room of their own. Each shoe is kept in the original box with a color photograph glued to the box end and arranged alphabetically by color. There are separate sections organized by heal height with a special section devoted to sneakers, yes sneaker.

Apparently the operating philosophy of the women I know is to buy the accessory first then find the item it will accessorize. This philosophy applies to jewelry as well as shoes. My daughter’s corollary to this rule (pronounced when she was still in college and still economically sensible) was that the price of an accessory should never exceed the item it accessorizes. Women have little apparent guilt when buying the little things like shoes and, after all, expensive jewelry can go with almost anything or so we are told until we discover that she has absolutely nothing to wear. Which is every time she needs to put on clothing. We have to pay to get them naked and again to get them clothed. Who knew?

All of this prater was inspired by a very shi-shi event I was dragged to called, oddly enough, “Wine, Women and Shoes.” The facts are that proceeds of the event help support The Virginia Thurston Healing Garden in Harvard Massachusetts, which is almost a hospice for women with breast cancer. It is a noble and beautiful place I have been assured, worthy of financial support.

I don’t go to many shi-shi events for a lot of reasons; I’m not invited for one but chiefly because I’m not known to be embarrassedly rich. To be shi-shi you have to be rich enough to throw money at problems with panache. The more panache the more assuredly “in” you will be. Donald Trump, known for perpetual bad hair and kitchey bad taste is “in” by virtue of showing up at every shi-shi event in Manhattan and throwing chump change around like confetti. Or so I’m told, I’ve never been to a shi-shi event in Manhattan and it’s unlikely I will be invited any time soon.

There is good news and there is bad news: There are no Donald Trumps in Boston. I can say this with some assurance since the shi-shi event I attended was “the only event in town” and if there were glamorous people there I didn’t see any. This is not to say that there weren’t hundreds of very nice and even some very wealthy people there. I didn’t know or recognize anyone famous except, perhaps (and I say this in generosity), for a local news anchor for a TV station I don’t watch. It took me an hour to remember her name. I said hello to her and she immediately mentioned an absentee husband – a newly wed or I was leering more than I remember. What struck me the most was how old and wrinkled the glamoratti of Boston are. Contrary to our opinion of us Boston is really a small backwater when it comes to the higher arts. Anyone seriously glamorous, talented or otherwise notable has long since moved to New York or LA. Plays don’t open in Boston anymore and what “serious” publishers remain are only petty rumps of international media conglomerates.

I don’t volunteer for these things but I’ve got an “other” who would love to be on everyone’s “A” list if we could afford it. She volunteered me to be a photographer. I’m not sure if that was our price of entry or a reason to keep me occupied since otherwise I would have been bored out of my skull. Do I really have an interest in Wine, Women and Shoes, well wine and women perhaps? I was dressed like most of the men at the event, suite and tie, no big deal, my camera couched in my left arm like a newborn baby.

“I want a picture of them,” she said pointing to a couple we know. After a glass or two of very delicious wine I was compliant. A funny think happens when you point an expensive camera at people at a shi-shi event: They pose automatically. Another glass of wine and I was into it. Someone asked me what magazine I was from, “Famous Magazine” I could say with a mild tone of distain. People love it when you’re slightly rude to them. I learned that lesson when I was a very proper waiter in college. The more “correct” the better the tip.

Photographing people poising has its limits, however, and it eventually gets boring and I had hours to kill. Shooting the cleavage of women far older than I am has little appeal so I had to find some theme that might challenge the tedium of the evening. I decided to photograph only men wearing pink or purple ties. It takes a modicum of courage to wear a gay tie when you’re not and while Boston may fancy itself a sophisticated city there are few who would consider themselves to be metro-sexual. Clearly anyone wearing pink or purple were either colorblind or had wives dressing them. I was wearing a pink and purple-stripped tie.

Shooting purple ties made the evening fun but my crap-shooting approach to photography made the evening worthwhile. A good friend of mine taught me the U.S. Navy approach to photography, which put bluntly, is there will be one good shot in each roll of film. The rest will be crap. Here is the one good shot:

OK so lots of people had a good time and most of us went home fatter. Anyone who wants to look at men with purple ties can look here: - you can also buy any photo you see.

No comments: