Kristina, my twelve year old daughter, had been anticipating this day for several years. Of course I am referring to the day Kristina bought her first pair of pointe shoes.
After explaining to the sales clerk that we were there to buy Kristina’s first pair of pointe shoes the fitting process began. “Let me measure your feet so we can determine the right size.” After a brief pause, “Do you know your feet are two different sizes? I have never seen anyone with one foot a size and a half larger than the other.”
Yes, that really was an icebreaker, possibly even a deal breaker. I have come along literally for the ride but since I am in the store I am doing my best not to shout “Are you sure? Until yesterday they were both size 6” and then turning to Kristina and saying with my annoyed tone, “It must be from your peanut allergy. Don’t tell me you ate a bunch of peanuts last night.”
Eventually, we found two perfect pairs of pointe shoes in two different sizes. As I began backing out of the parking space Janice, my wife, said “We now need to go and buy a sewing machine.” I looked at her in my well-practiced puzzled husband look and said, “I know those shoes were expensive but I don’t think we need to start making our own clothes.”
She gave me the well-practiced exasperated wife look and said “We need it to sew the ribbons on the new pointe shoes.”
With a bewildered husband look of shock I responded by saying “Why did you buy the shoes that have no ribbons; even if it costs a few more dollars to have ribbons I think it is definitely the way to go.”
Over the next few minutes I learned that pointe shoes are always bought with unsewn ribbons. Although I was very skeptical and thought this was as dumb as buying sneakers with no holes for laces I bought it. We also bought a sewing machine.
After searching for pointe shoes, a sewing machine and sewing accessories, I was exhausted and ready to go home and put my heels up, not by walking on my toes, but by putting them on the ottoman. But you guessed it; my day of shopping was not yet done.
At first I thought I was hearing wrong. “Did you say we need to go to a horse supply store?” “Why on earth do we need to buy something for a horse?”
My dear wife replied, “We need to buy horse tape. She needs to wrap horse tape around her toes to reduce chafing and blisters while wearing her pointe shoes. Horse tape works best.”
How could I argue? I had never seen a horse with chafing or blisters!
Eventually, I arrived home physically and mentally drained. If you are a man you will know that it is now time for Ballet Dad to have a cold one. If you are a woman you will know that it is now time to “break in” the new pointe shoes.
“Are you joking? I shouted. “You want me to smash the box of her brand new shoes. We just spent over$100 for these shoes and now you want me to smash them with a hammer?”
For the next hour I hammered away in the garage. Gradually, the box got softer; especially after I began hitting the front of the shoe and not the garage floor. After finishing two of the four new shoes I gave them to Kristina to try on. I returned to the garage.
Hearing a death defying scream, Janice raced to find Kristina showing no discomfort as she tries out her brand new, recently broken-in pointe shoes. As I enter the kitchen screaming, pain etched across my face, she says “What’s wrong?”
Having just incurred my first dance related injury, I whimpered, “I hit my thumb with the hammer. “With blood dripping onto the floor, I saw in her eyes concern. Immediately, I read her mind and put her to ease. “Don’t worry; I didn’t get any blood on the new pointe shoes.” Relieved she raced off to get the horse tape.
Kristina’s love for pointe shoes has now endured for more than ten years despite them causing countless aches and pains for both her and her father. But it was worth it. She is now living her dream as a dancer with a professional ballet company.