Saga of the Elf Boots Part Four

You have got to be kidding me


It was just the three of us on the little country path: two scalawags on bicycles, all kitted out with their new horns (one that looks like a vintage trumpet and sounds like a duck squawking, the other a blue police siren. Guess which one I hate less?), and me.

I was feeling pretty fabulous, wearing a fun red dress and a cardigan I had added a flounce to (yes another one. And not the last flounce I have added in the last few days, may I add!) I felt rustic and urban at the same time: my brown velvet jacket and elf boots completed the ensemble. Here. Enjoy:

Flounce obsessed.

The new horns were rewards for good behavior throughout the two week vacation, and honestly, no one really thought it was going to happen. At one point, I think even little scalawag was resigned to the fact that his older brother would blow it for everyone.

But lo and behold, here we were, their bikes freshly horned. I took us to a path which follows a small river where I knew there would be very very very few people to annoy with our horns. Separating the dirt path from the river is a wire fence with a few barbs on it, a drop of about ten feet, then swath of grass about fifty feet wide, where people let their horses graze when the weather is nice.

We stopped for a snack. One of the wrappers got caught by the wind. I scrambled to catch it before it flew beyond reach. I caught it just at it floated beyond the wire fence. I carefully extricated myself from between the not-really-barbed wires. And then I felt it.


Somehow, in my awkwardness, my elf boot had gotten caught on a two inch long, highly unforgiving barb and had torn. Right boot. On the side by the ankle.

I dropped sixty bucks to get these boots re-soled and replace a strap, and now I had a hole in them.

The Nine West Precedent

You see, when I say I have a shoe problem, I am not kidding.

In 2003, a week after I started my first decent paying job, I decided to splurge and buy myself my first pair of real shoes. By real, I mean, I did not buy them at Payless Shoes. I went to a store, at a mall (because we had those back then!). A real shoe store, where you sit down and a salesman went into the back to fetch your size and oohed and aahed over you while you tried them on and walked around the shop.

The shoes were black leather pumps with a nice, skinny little heel and a pretty, yet understated leather bow. They were exquisite.

I couldn’t wait to wear them to work the next day. So I did.

I took the bus to work in the morning. I proudly wore my new shoes all day. I took the bus back to the Village (a moniker designated by an ancient neighbor for the city where we lived) in the evening. When I stepped off the bus, I stepped directly into a new curb made of fresh cement.


Oh yes. The day before I had dropped $80 on new shoes and here I had just ruined them.

My husband and I tried to clean them up. I was in tears. I felt so foolish. Foolish for spending so much money on the shoes, foolish because I hadn’t notice the fresh cement. Angry because the bus driver dropped me off right there and not three feet in either direction.

The shoes were unwearable. My heart was broken.

Several months later I bought a knock-off pleather version of the same shoes at Payless Shoes for $10. I wore them for three years straight. Never stepped in cement.

Decisions, Decisions

Once my disbelief at having torn a hole in my boots wore off, we still had a thirty minute return trip, boys on bikes, me on foot with a newly ventilated shoe.

While I walked, I had time to think about my options. Would I drop more money into these boots to get them fixed again? Could they even be fixed? I mean, when I got them fixed last time, I was expecting to wear them happily for the next ten years. I figured a 60€ investment would be worth it over time.

Now this. I started thinking of possible solutions. My father-in-law used to work in the shoe industry (I have only just now realized the great irony of this fact). He worked in leather for his entire career. For many years he and my mother-in-law had their own luxury children’s shoe brand. They made the shoes in the old farmhouse where the indulgent husband grew up.

My FIL has fixed a number of my leather purses over the years, but two years ago he sold his equipment to a young whippersnapper shoemaker. I had a hunch that he might have some leather glue still, and could sneak a thin piece of leather into the shoe to patch it.

However, we won’t be going to see him until summer. And I need these boots now. I also decided that I would not sink anymore money into my elf boots.

So this left me, a needle and thread and a heavy dose of determination.

No, it’s not perfect. But it is relatively discreet. When my FIL works his magic on it, it will feel more secure.

I wish I felt this much determination about everything in my life. Determination, BTW, is one of our myriad virtues, making me pretty darn virtuous today! Who knew that a pair of boots could be such a purveyor of virtue?

Published by Lily Fields

I am passionate about contentment. This is a challenge, because I am equally passionate about progress. I get up at 4:00AM to chip away at a solution to this monolithic problem: how to make progress on my contentment. Born and raised in the USA, I married a French philosophy teacher in 1999. We have lived in France since 2007. We stayed young and carefree until life threw us two curveballs in the form of little humans one after another in 2015 and 2017 respectively. Now I am a slightly older, slightly more exhausted version of myself, but with mystery stains on my walls and a never-ending pile of laundry.

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