Your mother loves shoes, but she’s not in love with them.

You may ask yourself, when you’re 13 or so, What is love? You may also read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, which is a book that people my age read when they were teenagers that made them feel smart. Perhaps there’s another book that will cleverly address philosophical matters in a way that teens find approachable in your time. If not, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was written by Robert M. Pirsig. You can probably find it in an online library, and read it on your electronic book device.

Speaking of electronic devices, Steve Jobs died yesterday. That’s big news, although you won’t know it when you come around. Your mother is almost 33 weeks pregnant with you. That means that sometime in the next 7 or so weeks, you’ll be born. Could be today for all I know. Could be ten weeks. If Michio Kaku[1] is right, it could be in a billion years and on the planet Edelstein[2]. Take that, Robert M. Pirsig.  

I’m sitting in the car again. There’s a school bus parked beside me, and kids from the school next door to our apartment are boarding. They are going wild. The kids on the street are throwing things at the side of the bus saying things like, “Suck my dick!” to the kids who are on the bus. And they’re threatening the people in the cars who are stuck behind the bus, and who are honking. “Shut the fuck up, motherfucker! I’m gonna fuck you up!” These kids are probably 13 years old. They’re bouncing around the street, pulling up plants from the planters and throwing bottles and kicking trash. They have a long road ahead of them.

Do you think when they’re home alone they wonder, What is love? I bet they do. They’re just kids.

Anyway, I’m glad your mother isn’t in love with shoes, and that she only loves them.

I saw her buy an $800 pair of shoes once. We were first dating – it was her first trip to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where I was living at the time. I was shocked but also impressed. I was living in a 200 square foot apartment with a Murphy bed. A Murphy bed is a bed that folds up into the wall when you’re not using it, so that the bed doesn’t take up your whole apartment, like it did in my apartment.

Why did your mother decide to date a guy who lived in a 200 square foot apartment in Minneapolis when she was capable of buying an $800 pair of shoes, you might ask. I’ve asked myself that same question.

Physics of the Impossible[3], my dear.

I haven’t seen her buy shoes that expensive since, but maybe by the time you read this she’ll have bought a pair of shoes for $1,000. Maybe a she’ll have bought a pair for $10,000. If so, it’s likely that she’s come unhinged and we’ll be moving into an apartment with a Murphy bed in the near term.

When I moved into that apartment, I hoped that my friends would start calling me “Dr. Murphy” because of my success with the ladies. It didn’t happen.

Anyway. I’ve gotten off track. The point is that some people wear comfortable shoes exclusively, while others only wear uncomfortable shoes that they think are attractive. Most people divide their time between the two – again there’s a broad range of normal. In any case, like anything, you might want to consider the context.

If the context is that you are going for a run, then you’ll want to wear running shoes. If you are going to a formal affair, like a wedding, most likely you’ll wear more attractive, uncomfortable shoes. If you work at a pizza place, like I did when I was your age[4], you’ll want to wear old tennis shoes.

Some people like to go against context with their shoes to make a statement. For example, some people choose to get married on the beach without any shoes on at all. The statement they are trying to make is something like this: We’re so in love that shoes aren’t important at all!

It’s an odd thing, though, because who cares?

And I guess that’s my point about shoes. I’m pretty picky. Lately I’ve been buying shoes about a half size too small because they were on sale – my last two pairs, in fact. This brings me terrible anxiety because I’m afraid my cheapness will give me bunions, which I hate. I name all of my shoes. I have a pair that are very spongy, which I call my Lil’ Hugs, because when I put them on it’s like they’re giving my feet little hugs. I have a pair I call my ninja shoes, because they look like the kind of shoes a ninja would wear. But who cares? None of that is important at all.

It’s just not important.

If you want to wear expensive, uncomfortable, beautiful shoes all the time (and you can afford to), then do it. If you want to wear running shoes to everything, that’s fine, too. If you want to get married barefoot, I’m all for that. None of it really matters, so long as you’re happy. And if shoes are all you have to worry about, you’re a lucky girl.

I will say this: there are these shoes out now that look like feet – each toe gets its own little sleeve. They’re like gloves for feet. I hope to god these “shoes” aren’t around when you read this. They are an aberration.

[1] Michio Kaku is a physicist who writes popular books about physics. People my age read them to feel smart.
[2] There is no planet Edelstein as of this writing.
[3] This is the title of the last Michio Kaku book I read. It’s also what I like to say when I can’t explain something.
[4] Assuming you’re 15 when you read this. 

Picture*My senior pictures. Peacocking.
There are these birds called peafowl, that most people just call peacocks. This isn’t totally correct – the peacock refers to the male only. The female is the peahen and the little babies are peachicks. The peacock – again, the male – is known for its extravagant, eye-spotted tail plumage, which is hard to describe in words. It’s bright and opalescent and brilliant and, well, extravagant. When the peacock sees a peahen with which it would like to have intercourse[1], it stands tall and spreads its extravagant plumage in an effort to attract the female.

“Peacocking” is the human version of this. It’s when a human man puts on airs and makes some extravagant attempt to persuade a woman (or another man) to have intercourse with him.

The Iranians – your people – are famous for their peacocking. It’s possible they invented it.

One of your uncles told me that Iranians also invented backgammon, math, etiquette, and that they were the first in flight. If I had been a woman, your uncle telling me that would have been a good example of peacocking.

Peacocking can also mean wearing a lot of cologne, or a flashy or stylish suit, or driving around in a brightly colored or large or expensive car, or showing off a lot of chest hair. This is the Iranian way.

When I was your age, assuming you’re 20 when you read this, my style of peacocking was slightly subtler. I took guitar lessons, listened to the Indigo Girls[2], and wrote a lot of poetry. I should say that peacocking is almost never successful, as you might have already concluded. Not for anyone. I don’t know why women decide to have intercourse with men, but it’s generally not because we listen to the Indigo Girls (although maybe?).

Men/boys your age wake up peacocking (so to speak) – our whole lives are dedicated to trying to persuade women to have intercourse with us. When a boy tells you about camping in Zion, that’s peacocking. When a boy brings you flowers, that’s peacocking. When a boy likes dogs, that’s peacocking.

That’s all fine.

Peafowl behave this way because their species depends on it. It’s unconscious. They don’t think to themselves, “If I display my plumage, perhaps that peahen would like to have intercourse with me.” Human’s peacocking is similarly unconscious. If men didn’t have some innate urge to have intercourse with women, there would be no offspring. In other words, our peacocking isn’t malicious. We’re not trying to own or destroy you. We’re trying to impress you.

This isn’t always the case, of course, and you should always keep that in mind.

[1] I’m not sure that sex between two birds is called intercourse. I’m taking some creative license here because I think it’s funny to say when two birds have intercourse. That’s the power of personification, which is sort of the point of this memo.

[2] The Indigo Girls were a folk/rock music duo consisting of two women. They were popular starting in the late 1980’s, and are now, in 2011 – the year you will be born – are self-releasing albums. Read more about them in the memo titled “College Lesbianism.”