The outrageous incident of the Sunday boots

My aunt tells the story of a woman who went all day wearing two different shoes and didn’t notice it till right before her evening’s speaking engagement. At that point all she could do was laugh merrily and point out the mismatch so that everyone could join in the joke.

That story stuck with me, partly because it’s so incredibly preposterous (what sort of woman could wear two different shoes and never even know it? wouldn’t she feel a difference? could a person truly be so absentminded? so careless?), and partly because it speaks to my skirt-tucked-into-panties, run-in-stockings, zipper-down-holy crap! fear of not being completely put together whenever I venture out into public. So every time I think of that addled woman clomping around in her two different shoes for a whole entire day, I chuckle. That poor dear, tsk, tsk.



Yesterday I went to church wearing two different boots, one black, the other brown, and I didn’t even notice my mistake until Sunday school, after the hour-and-a-half-long church service in which I sat in the very front row.


It wasn’t like I was wearing pants or a long skirt, either, oh no no no. My knee-length poofy skirt stopped a few good inches above the boot tops so my boots, in all their mismatched glory, were 100 percent visible.

And I had no idea. I never even noticed they felt different (which they do—the brown ones are more comfortable than the black).

(This extreme cluelessness brings to mind the bizarre tales of full-term pregnant women pooping out a baby in the toilet and then claiming they had no idea. I always wrote those women off. But now, after yesterday’s mishap, I’m not so sure…)

It wasn’t till Sunday school that I discovered my mistake. Getting ready to seat myself, I happened to glance down at my feet, and— I froze. I sucked air. I let loose a series of half-whimpers, half-shrieks, “I don’t believe—! I’m—! Two different—!”

I giggled manically.

“I might cry,” I squeaked. “Or maybe I’ll laugh?”

“They say people only look at other people from the thigh up,” one kind soul offered. Another woman untucked her feet from under her chair to double check her shoes. (They matched.) Everyone smiled and chuckled, but then the discussion turned to other things (clearly, they did not comprehend the enormity of the situation), and I was left sitting there in my two different boots, attempting to exude a sense of calm.

However, it’s pretty darn near impossible to pretend you posses any semblance of equanimity when you’re wearing two different boots.

So every now and then when a huge smile threatened to split my face, I’d duck my head and shake it ruefully from side to side, all my insides—my very veins—jiggling with an overwhelming attack of the giggles.

It wasn’t until we were in the car and half-way home that I pointed out my miss-booted feet to my husband and kids. They howled, and John struggled to keep the car on the road and study my feet at the same time. I hoisted them up on the dashboard to make it easier for him.

Mom and Dad had arrived at our house for lunch before we got home, so, “Shhh,” I told the kids. “Don’t say anything and let’s see if Grandmommy notices.” (I knew Dad wouldn’t. He’s notorious for not noticing haircuts, gaudy earrings, and painted fingernails.)

I sashayed into the house, brown heel-black heel clicking on the tile floor, and hugged Dad and Mom. “You like my outfit?” I asked Mom. She admired my skirt, one she had scavenged for me from a thrift store, and turned back to the table where she was assembling platters of meats and cheeses for our sandwich feast. The kids and I exchanged glances. Mom smiled away, oblivious. And then my younger daughter piped up, “Did you see her boots?”

Mom turned around again and looked. She double-taked. She gaped. And then, and then! The gut-wrenching, foot-stomping laughter completely overtook. We roared and wailed, sobbing with hilarity, ricocheting off door frames and tables, hanging on to each other, rocking and shaking, our shoulders hunched, breathless, eyes brimfilled up with tears.

Of all people, I knew my mom—a woman who leaves the chicken out of the chicken noodle soup, who sits on her glasses and smashes them flat, who boils kettles of water dry—I knew she would get the humor. I was not disappointed.

So now my aunt’s story has been replaced with a new one, the story of one crazy-addled woman who wore two different, knee-high boots to church one Sunday. The poor dear, tsk, tsk.

The end.

This same time, years previous: a meaty lesson, foods I’ve never told you about, physics lesson (it’s horrifically windy again today—what is it with this time of year?), slow thinking


  • Theo

    This was so hilariously funny!!! I was stuck at my computer browsing the net when I saw your blog two different shoes to church…So curiously I started reading and my smile is from ear to ear Thank you for the Laugh..:):):):)

  • Natasha

    Oh I love it! A couple years ago, I wore two different shoes when I raced out at the last minute to get to a chiropractor appt. Didn't notice a thing. Of course, to check your alignment, he has you lie on your back and grabs your feet to check your leg length. Nope, he didn't say a think. I discovered the mis-hap when I was walking in the park and couldn't figure out why my shoes sounded different when they hit the pavement. I have to wonder how accurate that chiro adjustment was!!

  • Margo

    now this is FUNNY! Funnier because of how you framed it with that poor old lady that (tsk tsk) . . . .

    Now, I also think you look rather stylish from what I can see of you. I was led to believe that you were NOT stylish (or not interested) and here you are wearing cool skirts with boots and those eternally lovely blue flats in your profile.

  • Jennifer Jo

    Camille, I was aiming for brown!

    Slippers, blue-black shoes—who knew this was such a common mistake? You all crack me up (and make me feel a little more normal).

    Dr. P, yes, I did! I love that book!

  • Mavis

    Right up there with wearing two different boots to church has to be wearing to different shoes to high school…. I didn't realize what I had done until P.E. and called our neighbor to bring me a matching shoe! I was soooo embarrassed!

    I do like the skirt you wore… and the tights… who doesn't LOVE tights?

  • The Renwicks

    This had made my day. Im sorry that you had to pay the price, but at least we are ALL getting a good laugh. Its SO easy to do, I used to get dressed for work and walk around all suited up with my slippers on, and just slip them off and put my heels on as I went past the shoe box. One morning I didn't remember to swap them, and arrived at work (45mins away) wearing bring green fluffy thong slippers with turquoise frogs all over them. Luckily I kept a pair of black ballet pumps under my desk for says that I had to spend time in the factory. If it weren't for them…

  • You Can Call Me Jane

    Okay. This is really funny. I must say that I can see how you made the mistake- they look pretty similar. EXCEPT for the fact that the toes are completely different shapes:-).

  • Anonymous

    When our area was hit by a hurricane five years ago, we went without power for three weeks. I had to get dressed in the dark every morning for work, and one day I showed up wearing two different shoes (blue and black). Needless to say, I sat behind my desk as much as possible and laughed the whole way home.

  • Kate

    I did that once, myself. A black heel and a blue one. My mother-in-law noticed on the way into church but she kept her observations to herself as she thought I had bought them on clearance somewhere. I didn't discover my mistake until I took them off. Ignorance is bliss, I guess.

  • Anonymous

    OH MY WORD! This is just the funniest thing since the time our table of 4 adult women writhed, shook, cried, and busted up with laughter. It WAS supposed to be a rather serious meeting. That was maybe 12-15 years ago. I will definitely be sending this post to that person. Thanks for making me laugh and cry at the same time. I wish I could have been there to howl along with you all.

    Aunt V.

  • Mama Pea

    It even looks as though one heel was higher than the other! Didn't you notice anything when you walked? Click-thunk, click-thunk, click-thunk. ;o)

  • teekaroo

    My daughter always comes to see what I'm giggling at when I read your posts. Getting the giggles in church is tough. The not being able to laugh feeling makes it all the funnier.

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