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The day I met our new clog rep she wore a harlequin patterned dress of red, black and white. Throughout the shop Carlotta's lyrical voice wooed unsuspecting consumers. Most shoe reps tout what they want to sell but Carlotta speaks about life. Existing in a dream world means I have the ability to choose my own reality. The customer seated in front of me was a prick. Instead of letting him irritate me my thoughts went back to Carlotta. Picturing silken folds of her dress pressed into a wrought iron balustrade by a passionate lover was an easy imaginative stretch. Carlotta needed a man who would embrace life with all six of his senses; a man who would fully appreciate the woman she was.

Meanwhile my corpulent customer wanted a pair of shoes he could wear to the Washington Monument, Arlington National Cemetery and through the Smithsonian Institution. His shoes would need enough shock absorbency for eighteen holes of golf yet still be dressy enough to accompany his well fed wife to the theater. Back in the stock room a man I had never seen told me that my clogs squeaked. The shoes I had ordered to replace the defective pair were on the shelf behind him. Cherry colored patent leather gleamed next to clogs that had been painted French manicure pink. A coworker of mine passed on my left, quickly I scanned the shelves longing to flee from the overbearing customer up front.

By the time my customer was out the door Carlotta's artist was gone. During lunch my boss mentioned that Carlotta's boyfriend was going to put cherry blossoms on a pair of clogs for Carlotta. The pink clogs I had seen in the stock room were almost exactly the same shade as the bag that caressed Carlotta's flawless shoulder. Whenever customers complain that they can't wear clogs with skirts I want them to experience Friday night Carlotta. A chunky necklace hung above her wine red sweater, her crinkly skirt fell to mid-calf, the clogs I associated with her were still pink but the last time Carlotta was in my store I noticed that the left one had a budding branch that blossomed on her right shoe.

Carlotta's engagement ring is raw, elegant perfection. I've never seen her fiance's oiled leather clogs in person but I saw a picture that Carlotta had taken with her Blackberry. A slender branch starts at the base of his left shoe, proceeds onto his right, the limb of of that tree grows out onto Carlotta's left clog. Together their shoes cover the life cycle of the cherry tree minus the fruit. Currently Carlotta's beau has hundreds of pictures on his camera's memory stick. When the time is right he'll add a double strand of cherries to the back of Carlotta's right shoe. Until their marriage in June I expect his focus will be on how spring will transform Carlotta and the cherry trees.

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