I learned a new word in an article I was reading this morning. The word is signalling. It’s is what animals do to attract mates and avoid predators. People use signalling too. It can communicate, “I’m (or I’m not) one of you.”
I met Tee last night. She is our friend Tom’s new wife’s daughter. Like Tom, her family is from Vietnam.Tee is 14, the same age as Ben, my first grandchild. As Tee tied her new running shoes I heard another new word, a name used in Open Roads, a writing group I facilitate. Megan, a group member, mentioned her daughter, Marion, also a young teen, and her Vans. It turns out that, for teens, Vans are desirable slide-on or running-style shoes.
When I was in grade 9, Tee’s age, the shoes that were a fashion symbol for girls were called Capezios. A ballerina style, they were made of thin, soft, expensive leather. Girls in my classes had them in a rainbow of colours. My feet were big. Our family budget was small. The closest I came to wearing Capezios was a sturdier, cheaper imitation I bought with money I earned babysitting. I chose red. They hurt my feet and got wrecked within a couple of weeks as I walked home from school on gravel. (Ouch, pinch, scuff). The red dye bled on the kitchen floor after I wore them in the rain.
Still, more than 50 years later, I remember how badly I wanted those Capizeos. Today Tee is understandably nervous about starting high school in her new country. Curious, I asked how much her Vans cost. On sale for $99.00. I think Tom is going to be a good dad. Although he would probably never pay $99 for shoes for himself, Tom sensed that this was important to his daughter. Tee’s Vans send a clear signal that she fits in. We all need that kind of comfort when walking along a new path.
©️ Joanne Klassen, Monday, November 18, 2019 Winnipeg, MB Canada 10:45 a.m.