I didn't decide I needed new shoes lightly, because I'm incapable of making a decision lightly. But it's been a long time since I bought shoes, since I spent most of this decade living in a country where you can wear sandals year-round and not look too casual or chilly. Before that, I'd gotten a pair of Rockport-brand ... they're not really sneakers, I suppose, because they were made of the sort of durable heavy materials and I suspect leather that meant they withstood years of being squeezed around my huge, misshapen feet. I've got big feet and they're curled into neat little parentheses, far beyond the curve of every other person's feet on the planet. My mother says this is my fault for reliably escaping the corrective braces I had to wear as an infant; my suspicion is, if I was working that hard to get out of them they must have been agonizing. I'm too placid to make repeated efforts like that for perfectly trivial causes.
Despite the relatively large upfront cost Rockport shoes appealed to me because the old shoes stood up well: I remember before them having to buy new sneakers every year even though I spent sometimes as much as thirteen dollars on a pair. And neatly enough, the outlet malls nearby have a Rockport outlet store having a buy-two-get-one-free sale. This let me go looking not just for a pair that was as close as possible to the pair I meant to replace, except not crumpled by a decade or so of use and inter-continental shipping. They didn't have quite the same model, but they did have something very similar, with a bit more peach fuzz.
So then on to other shoes: I had no idea what to look for in other shoes. I briefly considered buying a new model of my dress shoes, which had in the years become more scuff than shoe, but I'd recently got a bottle of that liquid sponge-on shoe polish and that's restored them to quite respectable shape. So in a leap of imagination I went and got a pair that was the same basic shape as my dress shoes, only in white, as if I were going to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1957. And for the free shoe I went really wild: a black pair of what would pass for dress shoes, but which have none of this complicated shoelace thing, bringing the work-flow of sandals to a pair of shoes. How could I possibly resist?
Trivia: Shoe rationing -- to three pairs of shoes per year -- was put into effect in the United States in February 1943. In 1941 the average American bought 3.43 pairs of shoes. Source: Don't You Know There's A War On?, Richard Lingeman.
Currently Reading: Herman Hollerith, Forgotten Giant of Information Processing, Geoffrey D Austrian. If I'm lucky, the book will finally explain why Hollerith picked such a bizarro moon-man size for his punch cards instead of scaling them to some common everyday thing like the size of paper currency.