Remember the Petula Clark song, "Downtown"? When you're alone and life is making you lonely, You can always go--downtown. When you've got worries all the noise and the hurry seems to help I know--downtown.
When I was a girl, DOWNTOWN Chicago was so full of wonder and suspense. It was one of the of the many out-of-neighborhood destinations we were forbidden to go alone. Yet, we ( me, my brothers, and our friends) planned and took field trips to the downtown movie theaters and the lakefront (beaches) every chance we got.
One of the chances happened the summer of my twelfth birthday.
My brothers and I hatched a plan. Our mother had to work and we decided we'd blow off some summertime steam downtown. I used the occasion to dress (like a girl) for a change. Except, I didn't, in my opinion, have any pretty shoes.
My mother had very pretty shoes. White sandals. With heels.
Of course, I was forbidden to wear my mother's white sandals with heels.
I take my time and dress very carefully. My brothers are huffing and puffing, anxious to get going, wanting me to hurry up. The finished product was well worth the effort, in my opinion. I looked pretty cute.
There weren't lights because it was daytime. But the adventure felt like bright lights, big city. This was one of the few times that my brothers and I got along. We were laughing, talking, walking, munching, and have a grand time. On our final trek along the lakefront we were walking pretty close to the lakefront when . . .
. . . the heel off one of the pretty white sandals popped off. Into the lake.
Panic. Scramble. Panic.
The heel floated farther and farther out, well out of reach.
Back toward home, dejected, one heel less.
Trying to come up with a plausible tale, not so much about being downtown--we'd worked that part out, but the shoes, the pretty white sandals with heels, that was on me. And all I could come up with was: hide the shoes.
And then, deny. deny. deny. "No, I haven't seen those shoes."
My brothers never ratted me out.
The mystery of the missing pretty, white sandals with heels lived on and on.
And yes, if I could tell my mother the truth today, I would.