WHO WANTS TO EXCHANGE SOME SEX FOR A PAIR OF NEW SHOES?!?!
I was seventeen at the time. The reason I was inside Cohen’s Department Store... waiting for the shoe department’s only shoe salesman to finish helping a young black girl… was to find shoes for my graduation ceremony.
Perhaps, for some, it's easy to forget the many events surrounding one's graduation from high school. Yet, what I overheard while sitting in that store-- was blatantly wrong and not easily forgotten by someone as sexually-wary--as me.
Cohen’s shoe department was rectangular in shape and very small. To utilize every inch of space, 12 customers’ chairs were divided into two sections of six chairs each. The chairs were then placed-- back to back--in the center of the department so it was easier to access the floor-to-ceiling shoe boxes lining each wall.
Sitting in the bright yellow chrome chair, I stared at various customers shopping in the men’s department directly in front of me while waiting for Mr. Reisenberg, the Jewish shoe salesman who’d worked there for as long as I could remember. He wasn’t known for his customer service skills but shoes in my size (8 AAAA)were nearly impossible to find. Most importantly, graduation was next week.
Glancing over my shoulder, I noticed the young black girl behind me was trying on expensive-looking gold high-heel sandals. Apparently, she was going to a formal dance-- maybe to her senior prom. Then I heard Mr. Reisenberg's voice speak in a loud whisper: “Honey, don’t worry about the price. You meet me in the Alley at 9 tonight, in the same place like before—and I’ll bring the shoes with me. I may want you to give me a little more attention this time…spend more time using your mouth…but I’ll tell you all that when we get together. And, don’t wear anything under your clothes… no panties and no bra... you understand me?” I heard her giggle a little, then whisper “sure”.
In a few minutes, Mr. Reisenberg, looking old, tired, and bored, walked around the row of chairs to ask what I wanted. Suddenly, I realized I didn’t want anything from this no-class sexual predator and I certainly didn't want his hands anywhere-near my feet. So I stood up, turned, and walked out of the store. I never shopped at Cohen's again.
Still needing shoes, I asked my father to drive me to Little Rock where there was a much-better selection of shoes in my size. And, until now, I've never shared my shoe incident with anyone; I didn’t want anyone to get in trouble. But, that was yesterday...and yesterday's gone..
You should know that, growing up, I knew most of the Jewish Families in my hometown because I served as a babysitter for their children. I liked and admired all of them….all except for Doff Kastor, the gay ticket-taker at the Saenger Theatre and now…Mr. Reisenberg, who gave shoes to a young black girl in exchange for back-seat sex!
After all those years, I’m now “all grown up” and I no-longer keep anyone’s secrets….including my own. These days, I adhere to a strong belief that says: “LET NO DEED GO UNPUBLISHED.”