Economic forecast: the Canadian shoe market will shrink in 2015

A few weeks ago, my friend Voilàaaa congratulated me on my blog, and remarked very innocently that he was surprised that there were no posts about him. Humility is his forte, I know. In honor of his imminent move back to his home country, I’m happy to oblige.

How it all started

I met Voilàaaa 6 months after a devastating break-up. I’d spent the first 3 months in a self-destructive alcoholic haze, flirting and dating as many people as possible. The next 3 months were a menopausal stage: my hormones had stopped working, and I was asexual, completely indifferent to any member of the male species, no doubt because I was too wrapped up in my misery.

Voilàaaa appeared at the Savate kickboxing club at our university one day. He was in his 2nd year of university, still fresh off the boat, and looking for a cheap and easy way to get back into shape – what better way than via the sport he’d been practically raised doing? I’d been practicing Savate for several semesters with no success and less skill, and had reached the point where I considered quitting it daily, and taking up yoga instead. In the midst of another frustrating sparring session one day, I heard a voice, with a heavy French accent, calling out useful simple tips to me. Cautiously, I tried one or two of them. To my amazement, they worked! Every successful moment was followed by a musical “voilà”, spoken in satisfied tones. Afterwards, I thanked him, and in the months following that conversation, 2 things happened:

  1. I was blinded by the most painful crush ever;
  2. He adopted me as his unofficial pupil, and coached me in the art of Savate.

Worst crush ever

Nobody was more confused at my crush than myself. At that mature period in my life, I had three unshakable rules regarding boys.

  • The object of my affection must be my age or older;
  • The object of my affection must be taller than me;
  • The object of my affection must not weigh less than me.

Voilàaaa did not satisfy any of those criteria. (In his defense, many guys do not meet the height/weight criteria. I’m rather tall, muscular and/or curvy – depending on the month- and have a penchant for high heels). Logically, I should not have found him attractive. But my hormones, so long dormant, reappeared with a vengeance. I could not speak to him without blushing, or having a loopy smile. Embarrassing. Voilàaaa suffered through my puppy-devotion phase with grace and kindness, never letting on that he’d noticed. Or perhaps he was simply oblivious; in which case this post’s honesty is a terrible mistake. Luckily, he is getting on a plane soon.

Lisa Kudrow and I have something in common

At the time, most guys that I knew were engineers – a demographic group that is not known for its fashion sense. However, Voilàaaa had style. He wore jewelry – I had never known a guy to wear jewelry before – and he made it look good. To this day, he remains the only person I know who can wear sweatpants with flare. He’d even post pictures on Facebook of his shoe collection.

These 13 pairs of sneakers, neatly alligned, represent the portion of his shoe collection that did not fit in Voilàaaa's closet.

These 13 pairs of sneakers, neatly aligned, represent the portion of Voilàaaa’s shoe collection that did not fit in his closet.

He owned over 40 pairs of shoes. Learning that fact caused my infatuation to fade, and I developed a new unshakable rule:

  • The object of my affection will not own more pairs of shoes than me.

There is a video clip of Lisa Kudrow, explaining that when she first met her husband, also French, she thought he was gay because:

He’s really good-looking. His hair was always perfect, he always did it very well, and he dressed impeccably, and he cared about those things, and he would judge my shoes, so I thought “Oh, um ok, I think, are you – have you ever been – gay?”

Voilàaaa was not amused.

Benefits of coaching

He coached me in Savate, sometimes for several hours a week. The improvement in my fighting was almost instantaneous. But more importantly, by giving me the gift of his time for no other reason than he felt like it, Voilàaaa taught me a valuable lesson: not everything in life is a trade-off, and kindness is never earned, it has to be given. Somewhere in between my mom’s un-birthday presents and that awful break-up, I’d forgotten that essential truth.

My teammates soon noticed my progress – I gave full credit to Voilàaaa. Over time, he became a certified Savate instructor; he took on a 2nd protégée, who through her hard-work and his training, became the Canadian champion in her weight category; and this summer, Voilàaaa coached Team Canada, as they prepared for the Savate world Championships in Rome. I take full credit for his success – his coaching endeavours started with me, après tout.

Summarizing a friendship is hard

When I think back on my friendship with Voilàaaa, I am amazed at how much has happened in these 4 years:

  • He was a poor starving student when we first met, working student jobs;
  • He graduated, survived the soul-crushing job-hunting period, and found himself a great first job;
  • He’s dating one of my besties, the Canadian champion mentioned above – watching them together makes me so happy! Savate super-couple.
  • He started volunteering. This, from a guy who once emphatically explained to me that he doesn’t believe in doing something for free – he is a hustler, and he wants to rule the world one day, so he doesn’t have any time to spend without a monetary reward.
  • He has left an indelible mark on Savate in Canada.

I wish him nothing but success in France – may he establish the foundations of his world rule.

An ingenious solution to be stylish and protect his shoes from Canadian winter slush and salt.

Voilàaaa’s solution to remain stylish and protect his shoes from Canadian winter slush and salt.



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