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Shoes

Jan10Who would guess that Miriam, with her sensible flat shoes, big toed Keens, funny little old men’s slippers, booties, clogs and cross trainers, was ever into stylish shoes. It’s my inner Imelda.

Go-Go boots were my big dream. Aunt Bess would have bought them for me. She understood a girl craving fashion. But they only brought sneers and disapproval from Mom, so I learned to hide my Go-Go boot lust. It marked me with shame and disappointment. Almost fifty years later it still burns in my nostrils.

My father insisted “When shoes fit you should buy them.” He died with a gallery of fine Italian 10 triple A’s that were barely worn. He bought me the beautiful soft cream suede shoes, too fragile for Chicago’s messy streets.

“What if someone steps on me? Don’t they make my feet look big ?”

A girl was supposed to be small, look small, she can’t be too small—even a shrimp like me wanted to crawl in a corner and be smaller still. I “saved” the creamy beauties, self-conscious about my not-really-enormous feet and terrified to see them stained by sloppy streets.

My first heels were silver to match my fine-fitting sparkly blue dress for my cousin’s Goodbye Columbus-style wedding. By the next year I’d discovered platform sandals with three inch heels. I was the first girl in my class to wear heels to school. I still grasp my moment of cobbled redemption. By then I was officially short, but not with my glamorous streppy sandals. And if my feet were wet in the spring rains, I consoled myself that they would dry out quickly.

When bowling shoes became fashionable–several iterations ago–mine were red and blue suede. They were fun and daring at a time when jeans were the only pants. My other shoes were black knee high boots, perfect for the long India-print dresses I made, until I involuntarily wore them into Jill’s swimming pool. They never dried quite right.

I’ve had lots of red shoes, probably as many as six pair at a time: fine Italian reds; athletic reds; sandal reds; shiny red fuck-me pumps; red clogs; red keens. Red shoes go with everything– they don’t make my feet look big. These days I’m down to four pair of red shoes.

A favorite college score was a pair of green leather Flamenco-styled laced shoes with bold high heels. But the Birkenstocks and Earth Shoes were calling to me–as if someone my height needed a negative heel.

After the early career years, uniformed in conservative-pumps-with-mannish suits, I swore off heels,immersing my feet in supportive training shoes of one kind or another. For years now, I’ve been a woman of sensible, terribly sensible shoes. I still own lots of them. After a recent ten-pair purge I’m down to just over thirty . . . pair. I buy shoes prophylactically, restoratively, to save them from a dusty stockroom, because they are there and occasionally, even because I need them. But no, I never had Go-Go boots. Did you?
Excerpt
Yes, I’m a woman of sensible, terribly sensible shoes. I still own lots of them. After a ten-pair purge I’m down to just over thirty…pair. I buy shoes prophylactically, restoratively, because they are there and occasionally even because I need them. But No, I never had Go-Go boots. Did you?