As I take stock of my vast but largely useless footwear collection, I can’t help but notice how much my pre-Keith relationships with boys have mirrored my relationships with shoes (and vice-versa). As a result, just as I have been shaped by countless boy woes, so too has there been permanent scarring (both literal and physical) from the various shoes in my life. (You didn’t really think you were getting a post with no mention of childhood trauma, did you?!)
It started with the black patent leather Mary Janes everyone else in my kindergarten class had. Even the boys, I am still convinced. One girl even had them in pink and white too. I remember thinking of her as “super lucky ducky.” Which is 5-year-old-speak for “total beeyatch.”
How I longed to see them smiling back at me in the mirror, their shiny ebony goodness sparkling against pristine white ankle socks trimmed in lace ruffles. Sigh. Jan deemed them “impractical” (aka boy who was cute but not marriage material). So, in my class picture that year, you can see me sitting pigtailed and buck-toothed in a sailor dress and … dull red Buster Brown lace-up shoes (aka the dorkuses with names like Elliot and Howard who liked me … and who were in turn hated by me but of course, adored by Jan).
There were the clogs our slutty babysitter wore that I had to have. Dangerous to walk in (aka super-cute junior and lead singer in a band who, by some miracle, actually liked me, but whose failure to do well in French class earned him a reputation, in my house, as a bad seed).
The uber-cool lavender Kangaroo sneakers we were only allowed to wear twice a week. Bad for your feet (aka self-centered, egomaniacal boyfriend who was totally unsupportive).
The Frye boots that another slutty babysitter and someone’s even sluttier older sister sported. Not available in kiddie size 12, which I was until approximately 7th grade (aka boy who was a senior when I was a freshman/ was way too old and mature for me).
The Minnetonka and later Bass moccasins that were too wide for my narrow feet (aka any number of boys who were just overall bad fits).
The faaancy satin kitten-heeled pumps that were beyond appealing in their natural pearly white state. Forced at gunpoint to dye pink for use with heinous bat mitzvah dress (aka boy from the next town over who might one day be date-able, but who was in his current state a disheveled mess with no social skills).
Complete and utter lack of appropriate weekend shoe other than white canvas Keds in college (aka the duller-than-doornails boys I went to school with).
The backless Charles David stilettos that I refused to stop wearing on Saturday nights even though they left me almost paralyzed the next morning (aka the long-term hook-up I couldn’t walk away from even though his refusal to commit caused me a year of pain and suffering). I could go on.
Now that Keith is in my life, thankfully, it’s just the shoes I have to worry about. And I do worry. Just because I was eventually able to fit into shoes whose soles were not adorned with a creepily winking, giant hat-wearing blonde kid and his evil-looking dog (who clearly has canine Graves’ disease) doesn’t mean my shoe life is complete. The last few winters, it’s been a constant struggle to find boots that would work over skinny jeans and under non-skinny jeans. That had a heel, but were walkable. That could be worn with long-sleeve t-shirts or going-out tops. That didn’t cost $400. That didn’t have an 18″ calf circumference. It’s a lot to ask for, my friends. I happened to find this very pair (thanks, Modern Vintage) within days Keith’s proposal. Coincidence? I think not.
With the warm – or equatorial Africa-like, I should say – weather upon us, it’s now the quest for perfect sandals that keeps me up and searching Zappos at night. I have the flats covered. The metallic Dolce Vita gladiators, the frosty brown Havaiana flip-flops, the faux crocodile-skin Sam Edelman thongs. It’s the heels that torture me. I’ve accepted that a platform wedge of some sort is the way to go – when done right, it’s the most manageable and versatile of the summer options. But all my research has come up short. Everything is either way too expensive, way too wrong colored, way too covered in S&M-ish studs and/or, most often, way too high. So what’s a smurf-sized girl to do when she craves a little height but doesn’t want to end up in traction?
Frick on a cobblered stick.
On the subway, along Broadway, in the Times Style section, I watch as fellow ladies gallivant off to work or dinner in beautiful black and camel-colored four- and five-inch hoofery. They seem to walk effortlessly, their ankles unbroken, their knee caps still in place. They are not limping. They are not holding the stairway railing for support. They are not moving at an abnormally slow pace. I don’t get it. So my question to you, heel-wearing ladies of New York, is this. Are you simply anatomically better equipped than I am to walk in these shoes? Are these shoes really the ones for you? Or are you settling – faking it – like I did for so many years, suffering in silence for the sake of having a boyfriend fashion?