Free milk or comfortable shoes?

When I was a teenager my father and I hotly debated this subject until we were both purple in the face. You see, his favorite dad-to-daughter dialog was the one about the cow. You know the one with the free milk? My father had some very old fashioned ideas about dating. Being a smart-mouthed teen of the 70s, I came up with my own ditty about ‘why buy a pair of shoes if you can’t try them on first’. Yes, a very purple face.

This particular topic brought out the best in my ‘will’ because while my father had his opinion about getting free milk, I had grown up and formed my own opinion about trying on shoes.


At 17 years old I had already figured out that I’d be wearing a pair for a very long time and wanted something that felt absolutely wonderful each time I put them on. I didn’t want to settle for a pair of common loafers because they offered me nice dinners, presents, the promise of a ring and a decent future.

Don’t misunderstand, it wasn’t that I wanted to give myself carte blanche to fool around. I simply wanted a choice, and I was willing to fight for one.  I knew myself. I wanted and deserved more than that. I was special.


There are a few different ways and reasons to shop for shoes. Just checking here but has everyone caught up that we’re talking about ‘dating’?  There are times, when you shop for a pair with the intention of wearing them once or twice. It’s like asking someone to be your plus one at a wedding. You wear them, enjoy them, but you never put them on again. Thanks for taking me.

Another example is the pair that are just adorable but eventually give you blisters. You wear them awhile and suffer through the initial discomfort, but eventually, you get rid of them because they never really fit anyway. Then there are those that squeak. Well, you can figure that one out yourself.

Sometimes you find a pair that is fairly comfortable in the store. You buy them and keep them because it’s easier than shopping for a new pair. Sooner or later they begin to fall apart.  The soles begin to make noise (there’s that squeaky shoe again) or disintegrate. In this scenario, you thought you were buying leather but ended up with pleather. Take heart – it happens. But again, if you value who you are, the right place for this pair is the donation bin.  Throw them back for someone else to try.

Finally, there’s that pair you’ve had forever. It’s the pair you keep by the door and wear when you run an errand or throw out your trash. You just see them as a ‘go to’ pair. They fit and they’re reliably by the back door, but you’re not going anywhere with them except to the trash bin. Keepers right?

One may think so, but if you’ve had them a long time and you’re only wearing them to take out your trash or go to the bank, then it’s time to realize you have them because you may be afraid to try on a new style.

Shoe Shopping Story

I told my daughter the shoe story when she was fairly young and starting to get the eyeball for boys. She and her first boyfriend had broken up just before summer. We were in the car and her flip-flopped feet were up on the dashboard when I noticed a corn on her toe.

“You and Johnny* broke up?” I asked.

“Yes. How do you know?” she replied

“I noticed the corn on your toe. Guess that shoe didn’t fit, huh?”

Her eyes grew wide with surprise.

She thought then she simply replied. “Nope”

It was the perfect time to open up a more mature conversation with her about choices. It was one of those moments when you knew it all came together and the universe said ‘start talking’. We talked for a long time after that about shoes and boys. Ordinarily, when you get a corn, it means the shoes are too small, so I took the opportunity to let her know she had most likely grown beyond her relationship with this boy.

When to Switch Styles

Despite our conversation that day, I noticed through high school my daughter gravitated to a certain style of shoe which always left her feet hurting. I suggested when she went to college she try on a few other styles.

My message was simple, and it contained absolutely no reference to milk or any other dairy product. But, if you find you keep buying the same type of shoe, and experiencing the same blisters and foot pain, it’s time to make a change. Just don’t give up – you have the choice. Keep trying and remember, if you decide to go barefoot for a while – that’s cool too.

*Johnny was not his name.

One thought on “Shoes for the Cow

  1. Love this. I’ve got a closet full of shoes, but only one really fit right.

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