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April 18, 2009

Resolve? Self Control? What, pray tell, is that?

April 18. Day 292.

Fifteen seconds after I set foot in Nice's old port district, ready to explore Roman ruins, photograph a fish market, perhaps buy some lavender or herbes de provence as presents for people back home, or do whatever it is one does in old port districts, I spotted a landmark I won't soon forget. An homage to the lasting fraternité between France and Italia. A cultural monument whose bright and generous beacon will follow me until the day I leave this good earth.

In bold lettering, music to my eyes...

Shoe Overstock! Italian Leather! Big Sale! Small Prices!

They were spilling off the store's front steps, onto the narrow sidewalk. Shoes, thousands of shoes, in every imaginable color, from granny flats to deliciously atrocious glitter high tops straight out of an MC Hammer video.

Between those baskets and stands of shoes burrowed masses of squealing she-travelers, pawing lecherously at their latest prey and guarding their conquests with fierce hisses and growls.

I dove in.

A suede ballerina flat. Another. Oh my God, what was that? Patent black heels with a thick crisscross strap and a three inch heel? And what was this? Tan loafers with a soft square toe, just the right shape for a casual day at the office, but just the right bounce to fly to the moon? The red heels? Another beige loafer? And that green!!

I must have tried on 20 pairs. But, I assure you gentle reader, by then I was in a trance, and I lost track after about the second.

I would put one pair back, and my mom would show me three more.

"These! You have to see these!" she'd call from across the store.

I overheard someone asking the sales woman if they carried a certain model or "is this it?"

"It? We have 5,000 pairs of shoes!" she replied, revolted.

I, for one, was happy.

Too happy.

Finally, after much toil, gentle reader, I had narrowed it down to six pairs. Each were between 40 and 50€. But that was still way too much.

I approached the same sales woman and made her a suggestion:

"I'd like to buy several pairs... I have six right now, and 300€ is too much for me, but if we could work out a better price I would like to purchase a few."

"Absolutely not. These are already discounted."

"Even if I buy several pairs? I'm not asking for a lot -- maybe we could make it an even 200 for five pairs? Or whatever you think."

"No. Discount. That's our policy."

Argh... For a Daily Asker, I clearly don't have the retail thing down. Maybe, as one reader recently suggested, I should start doing a post-game analysis with every merchant who refuses to give me a discount. Learn how I could be improving my approach.

I put back three pairs. Bought three. Red ballerinas, which I've been coveting for four years, since I left France in 2005. The patent leather heels, which will look completely kick ass on a job interview. And some delicate black sandals which are both comfortable and elegant. A replacement for a few similar pairs that should, sadly, be put to rest.

Gained: No discount. Again. GRRR. Yet I'm smiling. Pretty new shoes. Weeeeee!
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