The liberation of my feet

high-heelsLast night I went to the symphony, which gave me a rare opportunity to dress up. This time – in addition to a fancy outfit and large, glittery earrings, I decided to take the ultimate step. I pulled a pair of rather beautiful high heels from the back of the closet and put them on. (The picture at right is actually of me. Not really.)

I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had on heels. It was probably for a play I was in. I used to wear heels more often, although I can remember kicking them off at wedding receptions so I could dance in comfort.

Ah, yes. Comfort. As I took a few practice steps around the living room to try and re-acclimatize my feet to the awkward angle and narrow toe sections that the shoes forced them into, I remembered why I’d stopped wearing them. They are not comfortable. When you’re young and really concerned about what you look like, you’ll do it you think it takes to pull off a great look. That includes what are quaintly known as F— Me Shoes. (On the opposite end of the shoe spectrum, I did go through an unfortunate Birkenstock period. I checked online recently and was surprised to see that Birkenstocks are just as ugly as they used to be.)

Because of that whole comfort thing, though, I usually opt for flat, kitten heel or espadrilles with LOTS of support. There are a LOT of Skechers in my closet.

symphonyBut the symphony…! I could forgo comfort for one evening, right? The heels looked damn good! I did totter a bit, on my practice rounds in the living room, but muscle memory was bound to kick in pretty quickly, wouldn’t it? And it’s not as if I’d be walking that much.

And so out I went, into the night, my heel supported only by a thin, sleek knob, the rear of my foot higher than my toes in a configuration that nature never intended. Oh, yeah, I felt glamorous.

The trouble began as soon as my date and I exited the car in the parking structure. Walking at a normal pace, he was very soon outpacing me. “I can’t walk that fast in these shoes,” I said, feeling foolish. I felt even more foolish when we reached the stairwell and had to descend three flights of stairs – something I wouldn’t normally mind. In these fabulous shoes, however, I had to grip the rail tightly and concentrate on navigating each step carefully.

Walking toward the concert hall was a wobbly experience. So was ascending the carpeted stairs in the venue. Our seats were in the middle of a row. People who were already seated between us and our seats stood politely to let us pass. Making my way gracefully past them in the narrow space – in those damn shoes – was a precarious affair. At one point, I nearly grabbed a strange man in order to right myself.

heel-fallI had nowhere near as bad a time as the women in this video: https://youtu.be/EFpRLjmAicc It’s a compilation of heel-wearing women — many of them runway models — falling down. My favorite: a bikini-clad beauty contestant on sky-high heels who falls on her ass and jumps right back up, her big, toothpaste-commercial smile still in place.

When I got home that night, my feet…didn’t hurt, not like I remembered them hurting in the past after a heel-wearing evening. These heels weren’t sky-high, after all, just high. And I suppose that if I wore them more often, I’d be better at walking in them – but who wants to work that hard?

I gathered them and the other high heeled shoes lurking in the back of my closet and put them in the bag I keep in my car trunk that will, when full, be dropped off at a Salvation Army store.

Here’s the thing: I like walking fast, climbing steps easily and not having to think very much about the next step I’m going to take. I like comfort more than I like looking good. I’m old enough to admit that. That’s one of the benefits of being a Woman of a Certain Age. You get to do what you want to do. My Skechers aren’t sexy. I wish the company would work a little harder at making them more attractive – I’d be happy to serve as a consultant — but they feel wonderful. One pair, in particular, is tweedy brown and somewhat plain, but the shoes make my feet feel like they’re floating on a cloud. I’m serious. Floating on a cloud.

closetBut maybe you’re one of those women who are really into high heels and are skilled at walking in them. More power to you! If you’re not averse to used shoes, you might want to check out your local thrift store. There may be some really pretty, hardly worn heels there for you.

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