If the Shoe Fits – Time for Soleful Reflections

Looking for the Zoo Today’s plan was to go to the zoo. We are leaving Toronto on Saturday morning and all of a sudden all the things we said we would do “someday” is now. Ron had the transport plan all worked out, metro to interchange and then another metro before walking.

When we arrived at the walking part, there were banners from light poles advertising the zoo, but there was a real absence of directions. We stopped in a pharmacy, where the woman gave us blank looks followed by “It is difficult to explain” and sent us on a wild goose chase. Had we had an Internet connection, we would have realized how lost we were much quicker saving some time and energy. Finally the weather had turned, so we were enduring the bone-reaching chill with a heavy mist changing to a fine rain.

Eventually, we realized the zoo in the vicinity that was still elusive, was a small local animal farm, not the Toronto Zoo. The REAL zoo was two buses and miles of walking away. Some of the buses only run during the summer, others only run every other November when there are Sundays on odd-numbered days, and so on. This was getting complicated and apparently it is only conveniently located for those with driver’s licenses.

World's oldest shoe

World’s oldest shoe

Chestnut cracker

Chestnut cracker

Men Just Want to Have Fun

Men Just Want to Have Fun

Elton John's

Elton John’s

Made for the Play Kinky Boots

Made for the Play Kinky Boots

On to Plan B. We had seen Bata Shoe Museum advertised multiple times. Why not? Admittedly, I was anxious to go to report on the kitsch within the museum. What is striking at first glimpse is the building. One would not expect a shoe museum to be housed in an award-winning architect’s designed building. Raymond Moriyama, a Japanese architect, is responsible for the five-story building where there are over 1,000 shoes and related artifacts on display. The museum’s collection includes over 13,000 items that periodically rotate through.
If your interests are archaeology, anthropology, culture studies, history, fashion history, or design, there will be something here to educate you in ways you never expected. To say, “walk a mile in another’s shoes” is an understatement, but scientists did this when they discovered the world’s oldest known shoes. They wore replicas and walked in them for miles to discover they were comfortable, sturdy, and did not cause blister, though the inside layer was straw.

One boot that looks like a torture device in reality was used to crack chestnuts; this was a primary food source for a group of people in Europe. Other shoes on display gave information regarding rank and status, depending on the material, color and heel size. Culturally, in the fashion era, there were the shoes from the 1920s to current, showing how high heels have changed. One room dedicated to men’s shoes show that men wore high heels too as a form of status. Some celebrities still wear platform shoes today, such as Elton John.

Originally created for the play Kinky Boots, this pair of red boots really are something to admire.

We spent a little over two hours here and could have spent more time, but there was tons of reading, but the visual stimulation as fascinating as it was, became exhausting.

After a quick rest at our home away from home, we were on the move again. Stopping at Elephant and Castle, we had a beer before heading on to Denny’s for dinner. Are those moans and groans I hear after you read Denny’s?

We have not been to a Denny’s since sometime in 2001. There is something comforting about Denny’s menu; it is appealing after a long absence. When we were walking down the street, a man was handing out Denny’s fliers with a 20% off coupon. It showed a turkey dinner. Hmmm…Thanksgiving is sometime this month for the US; Canada’s was in October. The dinner was excellent, thank you very much. Eating at Denny’s again was as comfortable as an old shoe. Still, I want a Denny’s Grand Slam breakfast, but that will have to wait longer still.

After visiting the shoe museum today, it was a ‘sole’ful day, since this evening we had tickets to Kinky Boots where we get to see others step into someone else’s shoes. What really shocks us about the theater performances here is the selling of popcorn, ice cream, soft drinks and beer AND allowing the purchases to be taken into the theater. During intermission, there are people hawking more food items as if it were a circus performance.

The play itself was magnificent. The set design, costumes, acting, singing, dancing, was spectacular. We could not have asked for a better performance. We had seen the movie some years ago and I honestly did not know how they could do justice with a play. However, with Harvey Fierstein and Cyndi Lauper teaming up, surely a success was inevitable.

Alan Mingo Jr. who played Lola was over the top incredible. How he managed to dance in the high heels he wore, was amazing. How anyone could wear the heels they did and dance is unimaginable, but they all did it with splendor. Graham Scott Fleming created the role as Charlie with great authenticity. If you look at the cast list here, all the ‘angels’ were drag queens who were magnificent in their roles. There was a well-deserved standing ovation at the end.

Kinky Boots

After completing my Ed.D., the frustration of finding a teaching position where I was willing to live, led to Ron and I leaving the country. We intended to travel for a year before settling somewhere in MA or RI. We left the US without any credit card debt, no car payments and our house mortgage paid by renters. We had $10,000 in the bank to make our way through a year.