My love affair with shoes started at an early age. I acquired my first pair of high heels at the age of 8, much to Mama’s disapproval.
They were lovely -strappy and silver with a two and half inch heel – and I just knew I would be like Olivia Newton-John if I got them.
For some reason I am not completely sure of, I thought they looked like the shoes she wore in “Xanadu.”
Not that I had even seen that movie, mind you, but I was going to be a smaller, chubby, black-haired Olivia Newton-John.
I spotted the shoes in TG&Y, which was the precursor to Walmart back in the ’80’s.
I begged Mama for them.
She firmly, and repeatedly, said no. Every time we went into TG&Y, I somehow navigated a course through the store that wound up near the shoes and would point to the silvery strapped heels with longing.
“How many ways can I say no?” Mama asked. “You are 8. I wouldn’t even wear those!”
Finally, I had done something – what I can’t remember exactly – but my uncle Bobby promised he would get me anything I wanted, as long as it wasn’t a pony, for doing whatever great deed it was I did.
I knew what I wanted.
I set my trap.
I told my trusting, dear uncle what I wanted was at TG&Y.
He breathed a sigh of relief. It was pretty clear it wasn’t a pony or anything else that was going to require a series of shots at the vet.
So off we went, me smiling secretly to myself.
I led my uncle to the shoes. He probably thought it was going to be a pair of hot pink or purple tennis shoes with pom-poms on it.
“You want those?” he asked, a look of panic on his face. I don’t blame him for the fear; he was going to be answering to his older sister and my Mama later. I would be scared too.
In fact, I should really still be running.
“I don’t know, baby,” Bobby began. “Did you ask your mother for these?”
I couldn’t lie – not to my sweet uncle Bobby and I am a horrible liar who always gives herself away, so I deflected.
“You said I could have anything I wanted, and I want these shoes. Please, Uncle Bobby. Please.”
I swear I could look as cute as a kitten when I was a kid, making my eyes look all big and round and that’s what I did.
Bobby caved and told me to carry the silver heels to the register.
If he was going to get a grown-up big sister whooping later, he didn’t need rumors about carrying silver strappy heels to get out around town.
Mama was livid.
For one thing, I couldn’t wear heels. Especially not two and a half inch high heels.
Where was I going to wear those to? She reminded me that I was not the most graceful of creatures either and could trip wearing socks.
Granny thought they were awful flashy and looked like Satan’s slippers.
Pop just snorted and laughed, saying all I wanted to do was probably wear them around the house with my gown while I had my tea parties.
I am surprised Bobby and I weren’t ostracized from the family.
Pop’s observation was pretty accurate.
I wore those fancy silvery strappy high heels around the house, wearing them to watch TV, to play with my stuffed animals, to do everything except play Wonder Woman. For that, I had my red cowgirl boots that I wore.
I learned how to walk in those heels, Mama frowning the whole time until she asked to borrow them one day to wear to a work event.
As I got older, the heel got higher.
I had maybe two pairs of flats during my high school and college years – a pair of Sam & Libby ballet flats and a pair of Chinese Laundry shoes that I wore for pretending to be cool when hanging out in Little Five.
The high heels gave me sass to spare, spunk and chutzpah.
Not even the Wonder Woman cowboy boots had done that.
No outfit seemed complete unless I had on a really high heel, that made me somewhere in the vicinity of an average height woman.
Until I went to the chiropractor a few years ago.
I had been suffering from an ache that went from the base of my head all the way to my lower back. After two sessions, I felt perfect.
“Now, I am going to recommend you come back about 10 more times, three times a week. This will get you back to optimum health,” she told me.
I nodded, ready to feel better. “But” – she began. Why is there always a ‘but?’
“When you finish, you can’t wear your heels.”
I never went back.
I broke down a few months ago and bought a pair of tennis shoes.
They are plain, they are ugly, they add absolutely nothing to my outfits.
They definitely don’t give me that mo-jo my high heels do.
But dangit – see, why does there always have to be a ‘but?’ – they sure are comfy.