A Woman of Sensible Shoes

3 05 2008

Some women hate tank-top season because it suddenly reveals their out-of-shape arms. Some women work themselves into a considerable sweat over swimsuit season because they have flab on their abs, or they despise their thighs. Me? I dread blister season. And I don’t mean that as some cute play on the name of this blog. I mean it literally. It’s the time of year when my poor unfortunate soles, toes, and heels should be rejoicing in the strappy sandaled, high heeled, toe cleavage-baring days of spring and summer. But instead, me and my wide, stubby, flat feet (that I think I inherited from a distant duck relative) are dreading buying new footwear, desperately trying to find socks that will look ok with sandals, and stocking up on band-aids. My feet and I hate blister season.

  I have several friends who are obsessed with shoes. They have closets full. High heels, low heels, sky scraper heels, and flats. Mary Janes, espadrills, hooker boots, and non-hooker boots. Black ones, red ones, brown ones, turquoise ones, gold ones. Casual, sporty, businessy, dressy, glam. Shoes for any outfit, any occasion, any season. These friends get positively giddy at the notion of shoe shopping, especially in the spring when all the cute shoes come out of hiding and go on sale. Me? The very thought of shoe shopping makes me nauseous, nervous and on the verge of tears. I only have a few pairs of shoes, and they fall into two categories: Ones that give me really bad blisters, and ones that do not. Which is not to say that the shoes in the latter category don’t give me blisters too…they do…just not really bad ones. The shoes that give me bad blisters create gaping, aching wounds the size of quarters that bleed through all manner of socks and bandages, in places where no blister had ever gone before. The shoes that don’t give me bad blisters just give me blisters on top of scar tissue from blisters gone by, so I don’t even feel those ones anymore. And that’s as good as it gets.

Shoes and I are arch enemies. In my memory, this hostile relationship dates back well over 20 years, to my Aunt Holly’s wedding, when a pair of too-tight shiny flower-girl dress shoes inflicted some pretty significant carnage on my tender young feet in a very short period of time. But my mother would probably tell you that even as a small child, finding shoes for me was an exercise in discomfort, which is why I spent a majority of my childhood barefoot. There was a brief period in the ’90’s when shoes and I declared a bit of a truce, when fashionable footwear and I were able to see toe to toe. Doc Martens, Birks, thick chunky heels and skater shoes were all the rage. I had a pair of green suede Converse One Stars that, once broken in, did not give me blisters or hurt my feet in the least. I wore them almost every day for about seven years, until they literally fell to pieces. I owned a few other pairs of shoes during that time that caused me little to no misery, and they too were worn until they could be worn no more. Then, things changed. Shoes changed. My choices suddenly got even narrower. Heels got high and spikey. Toes got tight and pointy. This happened around the same time that I had Neener and Roo, when pregnancy splayed my feet out to an even more duck-like width, and my legs and lifestyle put the kibosh on any type of fancy footwear, possibly forever. And it killed me because, despite my frequent quasi-feminist rants and ravings, I still like feeling sexy and/or pretty sometimes, and shoes are an easy way to accomplish that. I like the way high heels, pointy toes and fun, funky shoes look. I just hate the way they feel. And these days, I can not afford to suffer for the sake of cute shoes. 

Not long ago, a no-bullshit, get-things-done type, un-shoe obsessed friend of mine used the phrase  ‘a woman who wears sensible shoes’ in conversation. I thought about that phrase a lot, and once I had established that it was not code language for lesbian, I agreed that I was one too. A woman of sensible shoes. Yeah, I like that. It makes me feel better about my ancient sneakers, my socks and sandals combo, and my black “dress shoes” that came with the ever-so-sexy claims of slip-resistant, no-mark soles, fully lined for comfort, and perfect for nurses, bank tellers and people who like to pace in a room all by themselves for hours on end. High heels, strappy sandals and cute cut clogs might say ‘Hey! Look at my legs! Look at my toenails! Don’t you just want to sit down on a nice couch and rub my feet!‘ to the world. But my shoes, my sensible shoes, say something to the world too. They say ‘If my kid runs away from me, I can chase her. If I step in a puddle, or a pothole, or some dog shit, I’m not gonna freak out. And if your fancy shoes give you a blister, and you need a band-aid, I’ve got one.‘ Especially now that it is blister season.

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5 responses

3 05 2008
Jody

Hahahahah I love it! Being one of those shoe obsessed friends this made me laugh becuase I truely do have one is each color, style and for almost every occasion…and though I must admit reading this gives me that feeling like there is something my collection is missing…perhaps it’s time to go shoe shopping!!

3 05 2008
lastcrazyhorn

Oy, you’ve been tagged – http://lastcrazyhorn.wordpress.com/2008/05/03/5-things-meme/

I have the usual uncoordinated gait of many aspies and auties . . . and that’s on flats. Heels? Never gonna happen.

3 05 2008
Lisa

I wore my first pair of “heels” (maybe 1″) for grade 8 grad, and wobbled across the stage. I’ve had a few pair since, not much higher, for weddings and such. Consistently painful, no matter what I do to “break them in”. I’ve tried many sandles of good repute, and suffered many huge blisters, even months after breaking therm in. And I don’t have unusual feet. Slightly narrow, perhaps. A nice high arch. Normal toes etc. I’m just kind of resigned to sensible shoes. A black pair for dressy occasions, maybe a brown pair, a pair of runners, a pair of winter boots, and a pair of sandles. Maybe two, to alternate blister spots. I guess it’s cheaper and takes less space. And my toes aren’t growing in weird directions.
Winston has shoe trouble too. He pronates inward quite a bit. For some reason he has avoided getting orthotics for a decade now. For a while in university he just stopped wearing shoes. I remember a class (before we started dating), psych I think, where he was picked for a demonstration of something shoe-related, and he had none on. The prof was a little flustered, but the rest of us were pretty amused.
Anyhow, I wish you a summer of comfy sandles which do not rub. And if all else fails, wear slippers 🙂

4 05 2008
nanny patterson

i taught primary in heels for ten years and then one day I said to myself “I can run twice as fast in flats’ and I haven’t gone back. The kids all wondered how all of a sudden teacher could move so fast. upon retirement, I plan on wearing shoes as little as possible and for a fat old broad, I can still run pretty fast.
Foot freedomforever!

6 05 2008
nana

I just counted over 30 pair of shoes and I have names for them all.Not as many purses, but the count is up there.
But you have a head of hair I would die for.

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