…and she can conquer the world
Goodbye, high-heels, I hardly knew ye.
At least not recently, when age and lifestyle combined to make you obsolete.
And yet, I let you linger in the closet. Why?
Well, what was the harm? Who could predict…might I not have occasion to slip on the bronze suede and leather shoes and meet someone for a drink? Besides, bronze is really one of my colors and so, I had to have them–even though I was buying the same shoes in gray suede and silver leather for some long-ago black-tie event. I’m not sure I ever wore the bronze pair, but they were filled with promise.
The orange and magenta sandals? Well, I did wear those. As unlikely as it sounds, I had a dress in the same colors. And they looked good with jeans, too. In fact, I wore them recently to an art opening.
That is, I wore them for about 10 minutes once I got in the door. Then it was either take them off or limp awkwardly around the room, pausing to lean casually against the wall when the pain became unbearable. That’s when I knew viscerally, rather than just intellectually, that my days of wearing high-heels are over, despite their sex appeal.
My daily footwear is pretty much of the flip-flop variety. I mean, I have some dressy flip-flops, they aren’t just the $2.99 variety. Shoes aren’t the focus of an at-home ensemble that usually consists of sweat pants and t-shirts, occasionally augmented with a fleece cardigan or vest.
And then there’s the age thing. The one tiny bit of arthritis I experience is at the joint of my big toe, on my right foot. Exactly where high heels put the most pressure on a foot.
I once purchased a pair of black boots that required a rather peculiar angling of the foot to get them on, at which point I was basically balanced on the balls of my feet. The man I lived with at the time, a physical therapist, watched me trying them on. He could not believe I might actually buy them. “How do they hurt?” he asked, in a tone as pointed as the toes of the boots. Now I know what he meant.
Sex appeal–let’s face it, that’s why high heels exist. Both men and women lust (for different reasons) after Christian Louboutin‘s red-soled, sky-high heels. “A woman can be sexy, charming, witty or shy with her shoes,” he once said. And flirty, he might have added. I once wore a pair of high heels to work that caused a strong, silent type to pause in his conversation with other men and, as I passed by, comment “cute shoes.” The expressions on the faces of the other men were priceless. And the shoes were that cute.
Do you remember Candies? They were high-heeled slides popular in the early Eighties. I wore them practically every day when I wrote for the Iowa Farm Bureau. I was just out of college. Otherwise the staff was all male and predominantly middle-aged. The combination of my age, the Candies and the fact that I sometimes wore three earring studs rather than two, often seemed to flummox my more conservative colleagues.
Those Candies were so high and I wore them so often, the muscles in the backs of my calves shortened. I had to do stretching exercises to compensate.
Ironically, the other iconic footwear about then was the Earth Shoe. Oddly shaped and homely, the soles were constructed so that your heel came down lower than your toes–negative heel technology, they called it. I remember walking past an Earth Shoe store, long and narrow with two lines of benches running from front to back. The benches were filled with all sorts of people–elderly women, teenagers, hippies, businessmen. And they all had their legs extended to admire their new Earth Shoes. There was nothing sexy about Earth Shoes.
I still want to make strong men weak at the knees. I’m not ready–and never will be–to be limited, literally or metaphorically, to sensible shoes. The high heels are gone.
But I’ll never part with the tiger-striped smoking slippers or my cheetah slides.