Code Red Apple
On a Friday morning I read the newspaper and culled through the sale ads until two words caught my attention: “Red Apple”. My pulse quickened. I exhaled slowly, sighing.
I could not afford to spend another dime on anything that wasn’t an essential need. Not in this recession. But this was the summer clearance sale of the season, a signal for women to drop everything and meet at Macy’s, the equivalent of deer season opening day for hunters—only with a much higher sense of purpose.
Like any addict, I did the responsible thing. I called a friend, someone who would encourage me to remain strong while battling my inner demons.
Recently my neighbor and I had bemoaned our vows to curtail discretionary spending and save more money. So I knew exactly who to telephone.
“Macy’s is having a Red Apple Sale,” I said as soon as Colleen answered. She could, no doubt, hear the dread in my voice. “And shoes are SIXTY-FIVE PERCENT OFF!” I cried.
“When?” she asked.
“NOW! Right now! And they have the cutest sandals in their ad. I’m feeling like I might go,” I confessed.
“I wear a size 8. Call me if you see anything good!” she begged.
So now I had to go because I’d assumed a responsibility to report findings.
Inside Macy’s, I crouched between shoe racks sorted by size but not style. There truly was something here for everyone, from hoochie mamas to soccer moms. Four-inch stilettos? Yep, they had some. Rainbow print platforms? Uh-huh. Smart career pumps? Yes! Granny grips? Them too. And, of course, sandals!
I tunneled my way through rows of six-foot tall racks, peering deeply into the recesses of the bottom rungs. Patiently I waited for other hunters to snare their picks before I skillfully plucked off styles they’d surely missed.
Ah-ha! Yes! I found a 7 in this one! Ee-ah-ha-ha-ha-ha!
Within a few minutes I’d snagged my quota. Well, okay, maybe more than my quota—seeing as how my self-imposed limit was NONE.
Next, I wandered over to the size 8 section. Colleen was in luck! I found a flashy turquoise (her favorite color) patent leather sandal in her size. With my free hand I flipped open my cell phone and called her.
“You’ve got to come see this shoe! It’s an extra 10 percent off the sale price, so that’s like 75 percent off, until one o’clock. I’m not good with math, but I think it’s marked down to 12 dollars!”
“I’ll be right there,” she said.
By the time Colleen arrived, the crowd had increased in both number and collective euphoria. Four shoe clerks were about 10 short of being enough to service what appeared to be the most congenial shoppers in the world. Ladies who’d never before met one another now compared shoe finds and offered guidance.
“Where’d you find that style?” one woman asked.
“Right over there!” replied another.
“I saw that one and thought about it. It looks so cute on you, now I’m going to go back and get it,” a stranger said to Colleen. The lady returned with a size 10 in the same style that Colleen had been modeling for two other women.
A female past a certain age sat in a chair, fondling two unmatched pumps. Each shoe sported a 3-inch heel that looked like it could wreck hopes for an active retirement. The rest of us eyed her suspiciously. Surely no one her age would wear those bunion builders!
“Oh, nooooo. I still love my stilettos,” the woman cooed. “I wear ‘em to church and then take ‘em off. But I do still wear ‘em,” she explained. “I don’t care if they hurt. They look good on my feet. And I wait all year for Calvin Kleins to be 20 dollars! So I will sit right here as long as it takes for that lady to find the mates to these.”
“Do these two leopard print ones look too much alike?” Stiletto Lady’s pal said to anyone who’d volunteer an opinion.
“No,” said three customers standing nearby.
“Yes,” remarked Senior Stilts.
These two must have been related. I’m pretty certain only a relative would try to talk you out of a good shoe that’s been marked down 75 percent, which is exactly why I hadn’t called any of my kin.
At the cash register, a sales clerk asked, “Would you like to donate three dollars to Reading is Fundamental today?”
“Yes,” I enthused. And then I silently thought how sad it would be if I couldn’t read. Why, I wouldn’t even know that a Red Apple Sale was in progress. And then look at all the fun and camaraderie I’d miss.
Oh, sure, I might save more money by skipping the sale. But I’d rather have a few less dollars in the bank than wear raggedy shoes on my feet.
Apparently, I’m not alone.
Diana Estill is the author of Driving on the Wrong Side of the Road and Deedee Divine’s Totally Skewed Guide to Life, and the owner of way too many pairs of shoes.