Shoe Shopping In The Barrio


This Gringa needs a new pair of dancing shoes!  I know exactly what I want:  open toe, 2” heel, no platform, crisscross ankle strap, velvet, satin or similar soft fabric, wide strap across the instep just above my toes, maybe with some sparkly jewels, one pair in black, one pair in nude, and one pair in white.  I could find this perfect shoe at the local specialty dance shop but, on a Barrio budget, who could afford ‘em? What’s a poor, workin’ girl to do? Well, this gal hits the mall for what would become a noteworthy shopping experience.

At five-foot, five-inches tall I stand a wee bit taller than my husband (although his Latino machismo makes this impossible for him to believe).  This fact means a low heel is a critical factor in shoe shopping.  Also, because I dance like a madwoman with her hair on fire and am not interested in broken ankles, I prefer a low heel.  As I peruse the selections at the various stores in the mall I seem to have the same conversation again and again with the sales staff.  These exchanges go something like this:

“Can I help you find something?”

“Yes, please.  I’m looking for some shoes to wear out dancing… Oh my, impressive, but, seeing as I’m not a hooker, not really what I had in mind.  Thank you, though.”

“Have you been helped?”

“Well, if that’s what you wanna call it.  What I’d really like is a pretty, low-heeled, strappy sandal with more of a princess look than the hooker look, if you know what I mean.”

“Heh, heh, well, let me see what I can find for you.”

“Mmmm hmmm. Now THAT’S quite a shoe! Just exactly how high is that platform? Really! Well, it’s awfully inflexible.  What I’m looking for are some new dance shoes and, since dancing like Frankenstein is really not my style, I guess I should keep looking. Thanks anyway.”

Finally, after four desperate hours of shopping and finding nothing but KISS and Elton John inspired platforms with five-inch spike heels (Frankenstein hooker shoes!), I left the mall totally disillusioned.  I felt incredibly old and out of touch with fashion.  Then, behold, I spy a popular discount store.  I am now more in need than ever of some retail therapy.  Hmmm, what have I got to lose?  And there, against all odds, I rejoiced with the angels because I found my heart’s desire at… Payless Shoe Source.  Who knew?!  Not only did I find beautiful, satin, jeweled princess shoes, but, best of all… I COULD AFFORD TWO PAIR!

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Soccer In The Barrio… Pffft!


Sunday and Thursday are the official soccer days of this household.  In the early days of my relationship with my husband I would go with him to the park believing, in my devoted, little heart, that I would cheer him on.  I soon learned that I hate soccer and began taking a book or a bag of knitting.  Now I don’t even bother going at all.

Soccer fans are true fans, in the whole sense of the word fan is derived from. They are FANATICS!  When my husband’s soccer buddies meet me for the first time they are shockingly amused when I make it very clear to them that I HATE SOCCER. Then I have to explain why, knowing I am delivering the highest insult and they will never look at this Gringa the same way again.

I am an American country girl who grew up in a small school where basketball and American football were the primary sports.  Anybody who was anybody played.  If you played golf, you were a nerd who was afraid to sweat.  If you played tennis, you were a baby who was afraid to get knocked around.  If you wanted any chance at all of any level of popularity and acceptance, you played basketball or football.  Soccer was not even in my vocabulary back then.  Needless to say, when I met my husband and was finally exposed to the sport, I was clueless as to the rules.  All that I was certain of was that you kicked a ball into the opponent’s goal to score, prevented opponents from doing the same, and you did not touch the ball with your hands.  That remains the extent of my knowledge and it’s all I care to know now.

Growing up watching the Dallas Cowboys legends of Tony Dorsett and Roger Staubach, back when Tom Landry showed the world an NFL coach could train champions AND have class, I suppose I became spoiled to the ideal athlete who could take a hit, a hard hit, and not roll around the field crying like a baby, faking an injury in order to manipulate the game in their favor.  That is the real source of my abhorrence of soccer.  I think soccer players are big babies.  If you get your leg broken, by all means roll around in agony.  However, if you are just putting on a show, people like myself, who want to watch a sport and not a soap opera, turn the channel or leave the stadium.  That’s not what I tuned in for.  I was expecting to see athletes who busted their bums to develop a skill that would win a game, that skill being athletic, not dramatic, in nature.  For drama I go to the theatre.  So, professional soccer teams, if you want to win the hearts and minds of the American majority, ya gotta toughen up and play with some grit.

Now, putting those criticisms aside with the understanding those opinions primarily apply to professional soccer, I will confess I do enjoy watching amateur matches.  These are the guys that play with their hearts and souls, whether in the spirit of true competition or just for fun.  I don’t see them play-acting.  Probably because they know their buddies, comprising both teams, will see right through it and either kick their ass or make fun of them for being a “puto” (my best English translation, “man-whore”).  Occasionally someone will also get into a fight, which is very exciting.  Since the amateur games lack referees, there’s no third party to prevent the overabundance of testosterone from leading to a bit of rough stuff, which will eventually piss someone off.  Finally, a tackle! A hit!  Now those are some moves I can really understand.  When my husband comments, “Oh, that was an awesome pass!”, or, “He can really touch the ball!”, I don’t have a clue what that means.  But a shove and some “in your face” verbal abuse, or maybe a quick tussle on the ground that involves every player dragging them apart, now that takes me back to some American football.  That’s when I love soccer.

So, as my Latino Loverboy leaves for his playdate, I shout out the door, “Have fun!  Don’t get in a fight!”  Later, when he returns all sweaty and smelly, I ask, “Did you have fun?  Did you get in a fight?”  This Sunday he said he didn’t get in a fight.  I was disappointed.

IT’S SALSA NIGHT!!!


Thursday night is always salsa night for this gringa. I’m not sure what the significance is of Thursday where Salsa music is concerned. In our neck of the woods, most of the nightclubs that play the latest popular dance music on the weekends have a special “Latin” themed night on Thursdays. In Old and Middle English, from which Thursday is derived, it means “Thor’s Day”. Thor, through various twists and turns of linguistic travel throughout the ages, can be traced back to an origin found in ancient Rome’s Jupiter, the god of sky and thunder. So, dear reader, you ask, “What does Jupiter have to do with Latin Thursdays at Houston nightclubs?” Well, not a damn thing.

What is interesting about the Latin Thursdays nightclub scene is that it provides strong evidence that Houston needs many more nightclubs that feature Latin music every night they are open. The northern suburbs of Houston are especially in need of dance clubs dedicated to Salsa music.

People who faithfully show up, week after week, rain or shine, for Latin Thursday are people who love to dance. We want more Salsa! We want more Merengue! We want more Cumbia!  And, judging from the crowds who pour in from open to close in order to swing and twirl and twist while at the same time desperately attempting to avoid crushing the insteps belonging to lovely ladies in 5-inch heels wiggling just millimeters away , what we need more than anything is… BIGGER DANCE FLOORS!

I look forward to date night with my passionate Peruvian. We live for Thursday. It’s the best day of the week. I suppose that’s one more thing we want… WE WANT MORE THURSDAYS!