I Love My Stan Smiths

I recall buying my first pair of Stan Smiths. It cost a RM45 a pair back in 1977. This was an insane amount for a pair of shoes when, for example, a clerk at MAS at the time earned only RM175 a month. It was even more insane when you happen to be a 15-year old student with no income to speak of.

But buy them I did. I even tried bargaining with the lady. Since I had rather dainty feet (size 6, actually), I argued they should be cheaper because less material was used. I thought this was rather clever. Then the lady replied, “OK, I understand. But if you want your money’s worth, young man, may I suggest you get a size 11?”

She got no further argument from me. I forked out my RM45 and walked away as the proud owner of a pair of Stan Smiths – size 6, naturally.

I practically lived in my Stan Smith – until they got stolen about a year later. Since I had no other shoes, I went out, hustled the billiard tables at Pertama Complex, won my RM45 and got me another pair. Back then, I used to believe that everyone needed only a pair of shoes. You bought them, you wore them out and then you bought the next pair.

Little did I know that my innocence was going to be shattered. How? I got to myself a real full-time girlfriend (well, a few, actually). It was then that I realised that women have a sort of genetic imperative to own at least 5 more pairs of shoes than there are days in the month. It was too much for my very young mind to understand. So I went through life accepting this phenomenon as a fact of life – pretty much like the likelihood of you passing gas loudly increases the moment you step into a lift full of strangers.

As I aged, my powers of observation got even sharper. I began to realise something else about women and their shoes. Not only did they need to have 5 more pairs of shoes than there are days in a month, but they also needed an equivalent number of days to inspect, select and eventually purchase a pair. Though it took all my creativity to come up with excuses not to follow any female when the likelihood of shopping for shoes arose – I assure you – it was worth it!

Of course, sometimes you lose. On those rare occasions when escape was not possible, all I could do was sit there, grit my teeth and think of England. Sometimes (not often enough, I tell you) the ordeal would end rather mercifully – we were out of the shop before it was dark. Most times, however, the prospect of leaving only presented itself maybe 3 minutes before closing time.

It was during one of those excursions – while twiddling my thumbs and contemplating death – that I did the math: a woman will eventually pay RM100 for a RM25 pair of slippers. How? If she earn RM2,000 a month working a 5 day week, the time-cost of her six hours choosing the ruddy footwear works out to be RM75! Add that to the actual cost of the pair of slippers (RM25), you get a whopping total cost of RM100. And that doesn’t include MY time-cost!

But despite my keen powers of observation and my finance-savvy brain, I am above all smart: I am smart enough NOT to mention to the women in my life how ridiculous it is to own so many shoes and how insane it is to spend such an inordinate amount of time choosing them. I guess survival is still the strongest human instinct, after all.

Though Stan Smiths now cost RM200 a pair, I’m thankful that all I need is a single solitary pair and that the time I need to buy the blessed pair is still under 10 minutes. But most of all, when the possibility of shopping for female footwear arises, I am thankful that I can still keep a straight face and say, “Not today, dear. I have a headache.”

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7 thoughts on “I Love My Stan Smiths

  1. Oh Mat-san,

    I am literally drooling at the prospect of laying on my eyes on that lawyer-wordsmith par excellence`s inevitable comment to your extremely vivid description of those shoe-shopping expeditions?There`s a term for it lately…going Imelda.That SYT or whoever will very demurely say to you,”I`m going Imelda.Please get ready and follow me”.

    Mat-san,Didn`t our very wise ancestors advise us that come what may, never ever to play around with the hornet`s nest?Well, you asked for it, my friend.

    Cheers!

    • Higashi-san

      Going Imelda? So that’s what it’s called! And how apt, too. The next time I hear that phrase from a woman, I’ll slip on my Stan Smiths and run the fastest sprint you’ll ever see.

      Stirring the proverbial hornet’s nest? Guess this is just an old man’s version of living dangerously. I’m already too old for bungee jumping or mountain biking, old sport.

  2. Pingback: In Louboutin I trust « Write Away

  3. What? MYR200 for *that* pair of sneakers? For crying out loud, you can’t even use those to the office. *laughs. saja nak wind you up, friend*

    BTW, assuming that your lady friend earns MYR2k for a 5-day working work, I think her time cost when apportioned to a full month would be alot less, and zero if we are to be really technical about things and assume that she goes shoe shopping on a non-paid non-working day.

    • Hi Andrea

      Since most of the time I’m training either undergraduates or fresh graduates, my clients sort of insist that I dress like my audience (to enhance acceptance, you see). So I get to wear short sleeve shirts, jeans and… SNEAKERS to work. Neat, eh?

      Being unschooled in finance and accounting, I sort of guessed my financial analysis wouldn’t stand up to scrutiny. But I slipped it in anyway. Yup… sneaky of me, eh? Just thought I might get away with it.

      Good to hear from you again, ma’am

  4. You wore Stan Smiths but I bet you didn’t play any tennis, did you? My first adidas pair was the Rom. I see that adidas still make them.

    And yes… forget about arguing with women about shoes. I have a single pair of leather shoes for work which I use until they are terribly seasoned. My missus, a fulltime Home Minister, have a few pairs for jalan-jalan. Some of them still in boxes and get to see the light of day only during Hari Raya…

    • Hi Oldstock

      Yup, I played no tennis at all. But Stan Smiths were just the shoes to have… and of course Adidas Rom. I guess the three all-time greats were Adidas Stan Smith, Rom and Tobacco. After that there as maybe Adidas Beach.

      Maybe you’re right my friend. No use arguing with women about shoes.

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