Note: If youâ€™d like to produce this play, on stage or in a class â€” please email me and ask permission. It will be granted, but Iâ€™d really like to know about it.
Copyright 2008. Samuel M. Post
Selling Shoes was part of the Barebones 24 Hour Play Festival at Theatre Charlotte, in February, 2008. I got the assignment (a picture of a pair of shoes) at 8pm and wrote it in Caribou Coffee on East Blvd.Â Finished in a couple of hours, found an all-night Kinkos, printed, and arrived home in Salisbury about 2am.Â It may have taken me longer to find Kinkos than anything else. It was performed the following evening.
Setting: A department store. The 70’s.
Father — the owner of a department store
Son — teenager
Customer — same age as the son, or maybe a year older. Short skirt. Pretty legs.
The Customer’s Mother
(The Fatherâ€™s office in the store. Two chairs. Perhaps a desk. Father and Son, sit, having a talk.)
FATHER: Son, go get yourself a tie. We need you on the shoe floor.
SON: What about the stockroom?
FATHER: The stockroomâ€™s in pretty good shape.
SON: The womenâ€™s shoes look a little messy.
FATHER: No — theyâ€™re, uh, not bad.
SON: Are you sure? With all the new inventory? They might need to be straightened up a little.
FATHER: No — they look good.
SON: Maybe rearrange a little?
FATHER: Not necessary.
SON: Weâ€™ve got boxes on the floor back there.
FATHER: Yes we do — and we need to sell â€˜em.
SON: What about the Thom McCanâ€™s?
FATHER: Theyâ€™re okay.
SON: Iâ€™ll bet theyâ€™re all out of place.
FATHER: Not really — youâ€™ve done a good job back there.
SON: I probably need to re-shelve the Hush Puppies. They look awful.
FATHER: Not really.
SON: Theyâ€™ll need it soon. We sell a lot of Hush Puppies.
FATHER: We do sell a lot of Hush Puppies — and we need you to help with that.
SON: I canâ€™t sell.
FATHER: Itâ€™s time to learn.
SON: I donâ€™t know how.
FATHER: You know our stock better than anybody.
SON: I know the boxes. Let me take care of the boxes.
FATHER: The reason for the boxes is the shoes inside. And we need those shoes out of the boxes and on peopleâ€™s feet. Thatâ€™s why weâ€™re here. Son, weâ€™re busy. Weâ€™ve got bills to pay. We need you to sell some shoes.
SON: I canâ€™t.
FATHER: Of course you can.
SON: I donâ€™t think so.
FATHER: You havenâ€™t tried.
SON: I have tried. I canâ€™t do it.
FATHER: Whatâ€™s the problem? You know the sizes. You know how to measure a foot. They ask for a shoe, and you go get it. Get a shoehorn and put it on their foot.
SON: Hey — put me back in the Boyâ€™s Department. Please, Dad.
FATHER: Anybody can sell a pair of jeans. We need you in shoes. Youâ€™re a smart boy.
SON: Dad, please donâ€™t make me sell shoes!
(Heâ€™s about to cry)
FATHER: Iâ€™m sorry, Son. Itâ€™s Christmas. This is your familyâ€™s business.
SON: I know.
SON: Why would anybody want shoes for Christmas anyway?
FATHER: There are a lot of people who…that…theyâ€™re not as fortunate as you are and the only thing they get for Christmas is a new pair of shoes. And theyâ€™re damn happy to get it. And weâ€™re happy they come to our store. And our job is to make sure they get a pair they like!
SON: I guess.
FATHER: Your sister sold shoes. She did fine.
(Thinking out loud.)
FATHER: Never complained. Probably the best shoe girl weâ€™ve ever had.
SON: Why isnâ€™t she here?
FATHER: (beginning to lose patience) Because she went to college — which we paid for by selling a lot of shoes — and she got a job.
(thinking out loud again)
FATHER: Too bad she couldnâ€™t come home for awhile.
SON: Dad — weâ€™re completely different. We have opposite personalities!
FATHER: Anybody can do it!
SON: Thatâ€™s easy for you to say.
FATHER: Son, this is something we need right now. Shoes are an important part of this business. Your grandmother is eighty-three and she still spends her mornings selling shoes.
SON: I know.
FATHER: She can help you.
SON: I know.
FATHER: There are people who wonâ€™t let anybody else wait on them. If your grandmotherâ€™s not here, they come back another day.
SON: I know. I know.
FATHER: Once you get going, youâ€™ll have loyal customers too — people who want only you to wait on them.
SON: Dad, I donâ€™t like feet. Different people like different body parts. Other peopleâ€™s feet are not my best thing. They smell and I donâ€™t like to touch â€˜em.
FATHER: Iâ€™ve spent a good deal of my life touching other peopleâ€™s feet. Those peopleâ€™s feet put food on our table. Itâ€™s time for you to get out there. Someday, this business could be yours.
(He starts to cry)
FATHER: (reacting) Whatâ€™re ya? Câ€™mon now!
SON: I have to?
FATHER: Iâ€™m afraid so.
(Father waits a moment while Son collects himself.)
FATHER: Hereâ€™s a tip. Donâ€™t say–
SON: (blurting, smart-ass) â€œMay I help you?â€
FATHER: If you know not to say it, then why do you say it?
SON: When did you hear me say it?
FATHER: You said it in the Boyâ€™s Department.
SON: Everybody else says it.
FATHER: They shouldnâ€™t. If you say â€œMay I help you,â€ they say â€œjust looking.â€ We want to wait on customers.
SON: Then what are you supposed to say?
FATHER: Say hello.
SON: Just hello.
FATHER: Yeah, say hello.
SON: Then what?
FATHER: Well…then they say hello back, and youâ€™ve started a conversation. Talk about whatever — the weather, sports, anything…get to be friends. Then, â€œWhat size do you wear?â€
SON: (being a smart-ass) You know what size I wear.
FATHER: Say, â€œWhat size do you wear?â€ to the customer. Theyâ€™ll tell you and you halfway there. Try it. Do it a few times and you might like it.
SON: No I wonâ€™t.
FATHER: Try to like it. Lifeâ€™s lot easier if you anticipate liking the things you have to do.
(Again the boy begins to cry.)
FATHER: If you get in a pinch. Come get me.
(Three chairs. The Son, now wearing a necktie, nervously waits on The Customer. She extends her leg toward him and he slips a shoe on her foot. The Customerâ€™s Mother sits beside her.
THE CUSTOMERâ€™S MOTHER: (regarding the shoe) I love it.
CUSTOMER: I hate it.
SON: How does it feel?
(Angry with her mother about the shoe, The Customer doesnâ€™t answer.)
THE CUSTOMERâ€™S MOTHER: (to her daughter) Answer the boy! How does it feel?
CUSTOMER: Who cares!
(She kicks her leg in the air, as if sheâ€™d like to sling the shoe.)
CUSTOMER: I hate it!
(After a moment, the Son takes her foot in his hands, checks the toe and the width.)
SON: I think it fits. Maybe you should walk around a little.
CUSTOMER: I hate this shoe!
THE CUSTOMERâ€™S MOTHER: Get up and walk!
(She walks. They watch.)
SON: Looks okay.
THE CUSTOMERâ€™S MOTHER: I agree.
(Customer sits and extends her leg to the Son.)
CUSTOMER: I swear to God, Mother — if you make me get these shoes Iâ€™ll throw â€˜em in the trash compactor as soon as we get home.
(to The Son)
CUSTOMER: Take it off.
SON: He takes the shoe off her foot.
THE CUSTOMERâ€™S MOTHER: (To her daughter) Youâ€™re impossible!
(to The Son)
THE CUSTOMERâ€™S MOTHER: Isnâ€™t she impossible?
SON: Uh, itâ€™s hard for me to say.
THE CUSTOMERâ€™S MOTHER: Get her something else.
CUSTOMER: I want the Candies. Tan.
THE CUSTOMERâ€™S MOTHER: Youâ€™re here to get dress shoes.
(To the Son)
THE CUSTOMERâ€™S MOTHER: Find her a dress shoe she might like.
CUSTOMER: I donâ€™t want â€˜em.
THE CUSTOMERâ€™S MOTHER: Bring her the pumps.
THE CUSTOMERâ€™S MOTHER: (to The Son) What do you think?
SON: Just a minute.
THE CUSTOMERâ€™S MOTHER: My God! Youâ€™re a total embarrassment. Iâ€™ll never take you shopping again.
(Son and Father)
FATHER: A woman needs to think her foot is special. That thereâ€™s no other foot in the world like hers.
(Son returns to Customer and Customerâ€™s Mother. He sits and takes her foot in his hands.)
SON: Youâ€™ve got a really special foot.
CUSTOMER: You think so?
SON: Iâ€™ve never seen one like it.
(She studies her own foot.)
SON: Itâ€™s totally unique.
CUSTOMER: Thank you.
SON: No problem.
THE CUSTOMERâ€™S MOTHER: Where are the pumps?
SON: Just a minute.
(The Son and his Father)
FATHER: Tell the mother that her daughter is the one who has to wear it. If she doesnâ€™t like it, she wonâ€™t wear it — and it will be a waste of money.
SON: I canâ€™t say that.
FATHER: Sure you can.
SON: You donâ€™t know this lady.
FATHER: Yes. I do.
SON: Sheâ€™ll walk out.
FATHER: No she wonâ€™t. Say it. If she buys a pair of shoes that her daughter never wears, she wonâ€™t be happy with us either.
(Son with Customer and Customerâ€™s Mother.)
SON: (to the mother) Sheâ€™s the one who has to wear â€˜em. If she doesnâ€™t like â€˜em, she wonâ€™t wear â€˜em — and youâ€™ll be wasting your money.
CUSTOMER: Thatâ€™s right, Mom!
(The Customerâ€™s mother takes a deep breath, trying to dissolve her anger.)
THE CUSTOMERâ€™S MOTHER: Okay.
CUSTOMER: Can I try on the Candies?
(Mother looks away.)
SON: (Suddenly feeling a lot better.) Sure!
(The Son rises, going to get the Candies.)
CUSTOMER: Youâ€™re really sweet, you know that?
CUSTOMER: (to her mother) Isnâ€™t he sweet?
THE CUSTOMERâ€™S MOTHER: Weâ€™ll see.
End of play