Can I be beautiful with the shoes I have to wear? How beautiful?
I spent an hour in the shoe store yesterday. I shop Famous Footwear. Not because it’s my absolute favorite shoe store, but because I must wear bulky orthotics in my shoes 80% of the time, and at Famous Footwear you have access to all the boxes. My ritual is to pile up styles that might work and then try to stuff my orthotics in the shoes, checking to make sure that I still have room for my feet. It’s a daunting task and always makes me jealous of ladies who can wear tiny ballet slippers that give one’s foot absolutely no support, or torturous heels that attempt to reshape the foot during the hours that one wears them. I guess I squandered my chances to be like those ladies.
In the seventh grade, the cusp of life when girls want to shed bulky clothing and shy ways and morph into the first stage of womanhood, I was having feet problems. The lost-in-the-old-ways doc that my mother took me to not only removed a growth on the bottom of my foot using a very painful process, he also ordered my mother to put me in oxfords. For the younger crowd, these are shoes that men might wear, or women who care nothing about fashion. They are leather with stiff soles and ties. They are usually black or brown. I must have still been under the influence of the painkillers my mother gave me after the doc shot the bottom of my foot with some form of acid, because I agreed to a pair of cherry red oxfords. And I subsequently wore these shoes to school. In the seventh grade! In 1960.
That’s why Jack D. came up to me at our one and only 8th grade reunion (I was in my early thirties) and told me that he’d had a crush on me in junior high, but he could not get beyond the red shoes. Even he remembered them. I don’t know what shoes I was wearing the night he revealed this, but I can assure you they weren’t oxfords. I moved from those red shoes to saddle shoes and then quietly relied on my mother’s busy life to blot out the doctor’s warning that I had weak arches or something. I can still remember the elegantly thin loafers I wore in high school, my white crew socks folded way down to reveal my ankles.
I had years of wonderful carefree shoes—woven flats in various colors, dyed pois de seau for every prom dress or dance ensemble, sandals that revealed lots of skin, heels that were chunky or spindly depending on the style of the season. But most of all years and years of walking around barefoot. I always cleaned my house in my bare feet. Even in winter. I don’t really know why—I guess I thought I moved faster.
But the years did catch up with me. Chronic foot pain led to the discovery of a stretched tendon. Surgery was mentioned but the orthotics now protect that tendon. Foot surgery is always an ify choice. But now I am condemned to BIG SHOES. I still cheat and wear little shoes for holidays and evenings out with friends. But trips to the shoe store will never be the same. Bottom line, I can still throw on a pair of athletic shoes and walk for miles. No complaints. I just wonder if I would have stuck with more-supportive shoes my entire life—if those oxfords hadn’t been RED! How beautiful a thought.
Thanks to Google Images