I’ve never been able to wear very high heels. Shoes don’t have to be perfectly flat, but being just 5’3” I always wanted to go taller. A few years ago I bought a cheap pair of very high wedgies at Ross Dress for Less that turned out to be the most comfortable pair of shoes ever to bless my feet. Don’t ask me why they didn’t hurt or prevent me from standing erect and walking, but they didn’t — and they pushed me upwards two inches or so. I was thrilled.
I discovered I love being tall, to easily reach the top shelves in my tall daughter’s kitchen (she’s 5’9”), or the pretzels hanging out in Safeway’s
upper stratosphere. I wore those shoes to death, literally. When they were finally beyond repair, I went back to Ross, but of course they were gone. I searched every shoe store I could find, cheap or expensive, but was unable to replace those magical wedgies. This is, by the way, a common scenario for me, whether we’re talking shoes, sweatshirts, or gourmet crackers: every time I find something I love, it invariably goes out of print/stock/style/whatever—the result being I will forever mourn those wedgies (as well as Lands End’s dressy-looking sweat pants, Lane Bryant’s red polka dot bra, serving-size packets of dark chocolate M&Ms, and a million other great but unavailable products.
So I needed a pair of dressy shoes for my grandson’s Bar Mitzvah, having somehow managed to find an outfit. I went to my favorite shoe store, Aerosoles, and pulled out a few pair to try on. Every pair I chose was black with some heel, and open-toed. On the first round of selections, though, I aimed too high, and couldn’t cope with the heels. As I staggered around the store in one high heel orwedgie after another, the 20-something salesgirl said she had a pair she was sure I’d like. She disappeared into the back, and returned to present me with a pair of flat, navy blue, closed-toe shoes: Hideous. “I don’t like them,” I said. Twentysmething seemed offended. “Not at all?” she asked. “Here, try them on.” I staunchly refused, and went back to the pile of high heels tumbling all around me.
I stared at those flats, wondering why on earth she thought I would like them, and why I would want these shoes for this particular occasion. Couldn’t she see I’d chosen all open-toed sandals? These had absolutely nothing in common with any of the others. I stared and stared at them…and then it hit me: They were Old Lady Shoes. Flat. Dull. Showing nothing, hiding all, i.e.: sexless. Furious at the girl, I put on another pair of wedgies, quickly stood, and nearly toppled over. I breathed slowly, trying to put myself into a calm wise-woman mood. Then I clomped around, looking at the taller me in mirrors. Still in a mighty shoe rage, I bought them.
For the next two weeks I devoted a part of each day to walking around the house in these shoes. As long as I didn’t wear them outside, I could still go back within 30 days and exchange them. My hope, however, was that I’d gradually grow accustomed to them.
It didn’t work. In fact, every time I put these shoes on, my feet objected loudly and my back twisted or hunched a little bit more. In the back of my mind I secretly knew I couldn’t hack it—but I don’t want to go back to the store and let 20something see my failure, not after her assumptions about what a 60-something dame oughtta wear on her feet. Which is ridiculous, especially since I’ve never been able to wear high heels, not even at 14…or 24…or 38…or 52…I think I’ll stop this right here!
Yesterday, however, when I couldn’t even stand straight in the wedgies, I finally conceded. I’m going back tomorrow to exchange them—no, no, not for the Old Lady Shoes, horror of horrors!—but for another pair of black sandals, only with a smaller heel. As I recall, they were so short the height increase was negligible. Sigh. It just isn’t my karma to join the elite ones towering in the upper stratosphere, taking their privileged position for granted.
As for 20something, stay tuned: I’ll let you know what happens after tomorrow.