Last night I met a couple of friend in a bar in Stockholm for a couple off drinks and the usual exchange of war stories. They are here on a different program it is always reassuring to know we all have issues and perhaps the grass is not always greener on the other program.
This is one of the things I’m going to miss in the future, the engineers don’t go to that many places around the world, it is not that big a community and it’s always fun to catch up in a bar somewhere. I will miss occasional lunches and dinners with friends and catching up with the latest gossip. That’s heading on on a tangent that is better saved for another time.
We are sitting in a bar, it’s about 7pm and we are nursing our $12 beers. Of note are the significant number of stereotypical blonde Scandinavian women around us. For at least one of my friends all we need to add a little leather to the scene and it pretty much ticks all his boxes.
We got chatting to a couple of the young ladies on the table next to us, they both worked in Stockholm and had visited the US recently on what was mostly a shopping trip to NY. With the weakness of the dollar they said this is becoming fairly common. Not for designer stuff, but for regular day-to-day wear like jeans and sneakers. They said they saved enough money to pay for the trip and with more left over, but once again I digress
They had quite a few questions about America after their experience as beautiful Swedish blondes in NY. Now it’s not like there is a lot of common ground, what ever happened to them in New York was probably very different from my interactions as a 42 year old with grey hair and a gut , but beer number 2 had arrived and we had no other plans for the next hour or two.
One thing they were puzzled about was shoes, women’s shoes in particular and how many pairs Americans own. I’ve lived with women who owned over 50 pairs of shoes, so while I could add much to the conversation, I certainly had an opinion.
To finish setting the scene Katja and Dina were exactly how you’ve pictured them. Very cute, funny and very blonde. I think it’s safe to say we were happy that there is truth in the blonde Nordic goddess stereotype and Rod especially was rather mesmerized by them.
For them the strangest experience occurred in a shoe store in NY, there was a woman in there buying 5 pairs of totally pointless high heeled shoes and dropping close to two grand in the process. They were just astounded that someone would buy so many “Stoopid shoes for so much money! That makes no seeense to me. Und they wear them out on the street, it’s so painful to look at”
While I don’t have very strong opinions on footwear generally, I have found that part of the initial impression of someone, especially women, is based on the shoes they are wearing.
In part this comes from spending too many nights out with people who love impractical footwear and whine constantly about it when we are out. You may think it makes you look hot, and yes I’d be willing to do a footrub afterwards but stop the fucking whining, you chose to wear them. I am more convinced that ever that women dress up for other women, not men.
Before you dismiss this “shoes as a window into the soul” thing, just pause for a moment because I think there is something too this.
When you buy a pair of shoes you have to make a lot of decisions about style, comfort, practicality, cost, colour and so on. People make statements with their shoes, unconsciously perhaps, but there is certainly a statement about personality in there somewhere.
My theory was largely dismissed over beer, but I stand by it and we decided to field test it. We were siting in the bar and someone was discretely pointed out and I was asked my first impression. The “it” was a very attractive young lady, well dressed with what Dina saw as trendy clothes. So far, so good, but then it goes wrong. Her shoes were a really ugly green and even though I’m almost colour blind even I could they did not match what she was wearing.
What’s more there was a giant silver buckle on them.
So she is someone who likes to look good, but the shoes were an odd colour and the buckle way too big. The front of the shoe looked very comfortable and practical, the back was narrow and high and together it was not a particularly good and a look not helped by the bloody huge buckle. And yet she almost certainly feels they look awesome.
These were shoes worn by someone desperate to be seen as trendsetting, yet unhappy. Something was clearly wrong. I’m not saying you’d come home one day to find bunnies boiling on the stove, but it would be a concern in the back of the mind every time you opened the door.
I looked around at my companions and saw a couple of them nodding in agreement. While I was not exactly showered with accolades, I think they were visibly impressed. I’m onto something here.
We then started expanding the theory. Knowing someone owns dozens of pairs of shoes means additional alarm bells are rung in my head. If you are so sure that you need a pair of shoes that are just right for every outfit and 15 spares just in case the brown is not perfect under a certain light, you are OCD. But that’s a theory to discuss on another day.
Stockholm was fun, has some good bars and has a lot of very interesting people. A fun night.