Friday Footwear

“I wonder what shoes she’ll be wearing,” Karen says.

Karen and I are on our way to a late afternoon barbecue given by friends here in LA, a couple we have known since we moved to California over 20 years ago. Like us, they are from New York, orthodox Jews from humble circumstances who have achieved a nice slice of the American dream here in the golden West.

“Sarah,” (not her real name) “definitely has a thing for killer high heels. Never seems to wear the same pair twice,” I say.

“Wouldn’t you love to see her closet?”

Karen and I are walking to the barbecue. Our friend’s house is just a quarter mile from Casa Avrech. There’s a cool breeze from Santa Monica and the sky looks like a technicolor dream.

Though Los Angeles is a city built for the automobile, walking around our neighborhood presents a striking array of unexpected images.

For some reason this contractor's imprint in the sidewalk moves me deeply. It's like a painter signing his art for posterity.

Arriving at our friend’s house, we are delighted to find a wonderful and lively group. I fall into conversation with a rock music executive who laments the dominance of Rap.

“The stuff gives me a migraine,” he says.

Which, naturally, leads to a looong, excruciatingly detailed conversation about migraines, triggers and, sigh, medication.  We sound like a couple of hypochondriac yentas.

Karen’s sitting with our hostess, discussing children, grandchildren and no doubt, footwear.

Wearing the nose-bleed heels is our gracious hostess. And in the ballet flats is the love of my life, Karen.

Now I’m getting advice from a friend, a builder and real-estate developer, who built a spectacular home in Pacific Palisades.

Karen and I have been renovating a small, I mean tiny, bathroom in Casa Avrech and I’m kvetching about endless delays, workmen who head off  to pick up supplies, and don’t return for several days, and the ballooning budget which is giving me sleepless nights. The job was supposed to take ten days to two weeks. We’re into the seventh week of construction. No end in sight.

“Welcome to  my life,” my friend chuckles. It took him over ten years to build his dream house and he went over budget by 250%, sort of like a James Cameron film.

There’s all sorts of excitement across the yard.

Several women are clustered around Karen.

“What’s going on?” my friend asks.

“Karen’s trying on Sarah’s shoes.”

My friend is totally Y-chromosome: “Why?”

“That’s what they asked George Mallory.”


“The first man to climb Mount Everest.”


“Mallory replied: ‘Because it’s there.’ It’s the same with women and shoes.”

Karen tests the thin air in Sarah's heels.

Karen and I wish all our friends and relatives a miraculous Shabbat.

Top photo: Anne Francis and Robby the Robot in Forbidden Planet, 1956, Shakespeare’s The Tempest in outer space.

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  1. Johnny
    Posted July 31, 2011 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    As one of those contractors (though landscaping and pools and not bathrooms and kitchens) I can say I’ve lost a lot of money by honoring to the penny my quotes.  I had a recent job clearing brush and laying sod where the day before I started the homeowner told me about the sprinkler system in the brush.  Needless to say I was restricted to where I could run my Bobcat and the job took two more days than planned (and two days in 100 degree heat is tough).  I’ve never understood contractors having the nerve to ask for more money after the job has started. 

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  2. Bill Brandt
    Posted July 31, 2011 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    On contractors putting their “John Hancocks” in their work – funny thing – at the time nobody pays attention but as the years go on, their handiwork becomes part of history. Even the things done that are part of the everyday life at the time.
    Years ago while in Egypt and touring Abu Simbel – those temples moved in the early 60s because of the Aswan dam – part of the tour is the Greek graffiti – made over 2,000 years ago. 
    Yes, Pericles, tired of the day’s marching probably put his John Hancock on the wall without thinking hordes of tourists thousands of years hence would be staring  at it.
    So today I  wonder about Claude – long gone – what was he like? Where did he live?
    -One thing we do know – he was proud of his work…

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  3. Pax ad Israelum
    Posted July 29, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    The “supposed to take seven to ten days” construction job sounds like the new church my parish has been trying to build. We planned the thing in, what, 2003? Broke ground a few years later, and, uh…I don’t think there’s actually been any more work done!

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  4. Posted July 29, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    You would love Montreal, Robert – it’s probably the most shoe-obsessed city I’ve ever visited; there’s actually a “shoe district,” where every other shop sells nothing but, and women there are the most discerning connoisseurs of every kind of flat, pump and boot. It’s probably a compensation for the fact that snows get ass-deep in winter, and you have to dress like Roald Amundsen to make it through to the spring.

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  5. Jackie W - Kansas
    Posted July 29, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    At least you aren’t remodeling your kitchen & doing it ALL yourself.  Well, my husbands self…..
    Those are killer shoes, but since my nearest neighbor is a goat I have no where to wear them.  Even to church I would be over dressed.  Or is that over shoed ?

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  6. Franny
    Posted July 29, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Yay! Friday footwear! 
    (And I’ve finally logged into the new wordpress thingy-I’m resistant to change.)  
    Great shoes, and very elegant on your beloved.

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  7. Kevin Aldrich
    Posted July 29, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    I feel the same way about sidewalk imprints.
    You know you are getting old when you appreciate concrete and a well-paved parking lot.

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  8. exdemexlib
    Posted July 29, 2011 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    “The job was supposed to take ten days to two weeks. We’re into the seventh week of construction. No end in sight.”

    To paraphrase Dave Barry on home remodeling:

    “The ruins of the Colliseum in Rome – they aren’t ruins at all! The contractors haven’t finished yet.”

    As we are now in the Three Weeks of Mourning for the First and Second Temples, it’s customary to learn about them and the rebuilding.

    It’s said that for the Third Temple, it will be brought down to this world, already rebuilt, and then last forever.

    (The Heavenly Wisdom is such, that to ensure for eternal endurance of a structure, no Earthly Contractor is to be involved in any way 😉   )

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