In New York, London and Paris ladies adorn the area south of their ankles with Prada, Gucci, Manolo Blahnik, Jimmy Choo, Dior and Proenza Schouler. I’m talking about pumps, kicks, strappy sandals, platforms, gladiators, kicks and boots. Here in South Africa these little beauties are a rare and very expensive sighting. In my lifetime I have actually come face to peep-toe with 1 pair of Jimmy Choo’s and strolled through Louis Vuitton once (for 5 minutes before the sales people judged the shit out of me and declared me an unworthy customer, pfft!).
What is it about a pair of shoes that makes you feel so fucking fantastic? Well in my experience I’ve never had to go up a shoe size because my boyfriend dumped me and I filled the empty void with jam doughnuts. New shoes make you walk and feel taller (which for me, is not always a good thing as I tend to have that “Attack of the 50 foot Woman” effect). I guess a better word is “elevates”, they elevate our mood, our energy, our femininity. A gorgeous pair of satin kitten heels can take your normal walk to the runway and give any booty you’ve got, sashaying power and swagger. I never met a man who didn’t like the way a woman strutted and flounced in those pieces of art we call shoes.
So what’s not to like? Well there are some betrayals like blisters, barnacles and busted ankles. Ah, the price of beauty. This is why for the last 4 years I have kept to a strict styling regime. Lots of flat pretty pumps, a work heel and a pair of "working it" wedges. Throw in some stylin’ sneakers and the odd pair of impulse bought boots and that pretty much sums up my tootsie tavern at home. Sad isn’t it?
That was until I saw them. It had been a long time since I’d sparked with a pair of shoes, really sparked. They saw me and I saw them. I smiled, coyly of course, trying not to give too much away. These shoes were way too good for a one night stand, no I had to withhold all urges to be slutty and immediately slip them on. We did that all too familiar courtship dance where I pretended to browse the clothing rails and flirted with some of the other shoes on the shelf. I even tried one pair on and modeled it for the sales lady and her commission eyes. I waited patiently for something to happen while playing with that very tired debit card of mine. Nothing. And then I thought to myself, this is 2011 lady. Why shouldn’t I be the one to make the first move?
The minute I picked them up I knew what kind of relationship we’d have. They made me feel bad, in a good way. I looked up and allowed the right corner of my mouth to lift slightly while my tongue slid along my teeth and gave the kind of knowing smile you give when you’ve met your match. The colours woo’d and seduced me, I was no longer playing hard to get.
I placed them on the floor, toes trembling with excitement and anticipation. First the right foot, then the left. Soft leather giving my soles butterfly kisses, whispering sweet nothings along the sides of my foot that sent a warm rush all the way up my legs. I stood in front of the full length mirror, tantalized, titillated and tumultuously in love. Standing there in my jeans and an old T shirt, I felt like a rock star. I swiped and they were mine.
I decided to take my rebellious duo out on the town this Thursday for my sisters 18th. I was hopeful, I was excited, I was having a threesome with 2 gorgeous and seductive models… waiting on me foot and foot. What could go wrong?
The night started well enough, I was surprised at how comfortable I was, glancing down every now and then to admire my feet. There’s nothing that can make you feel more like frisky 18 year old than being hit on by frisky 18 year olds. But then there’s nothing that could irritate a girl more or make you feel more like a 25 year old than waiting an hour for your drink in ridiculous bar queues, music without words and crammed health hazard smoking areas. Eddy and I lasted about half an hour before we left the sea of raging hormones behind us and found a quiet 20 something bar where we could shoot flaming Lamborghini’s and laugh about all the stupid things we used to do when we were 18.
Shooters followed more shooters and somehow we found ourselves in a Casino at the blackjack tables. It was not too late after this that I began to do that all too familiar one legged leaning dance, trying to dissipate the pressure on my feet. Because that’s what you do in a relationship, you compromise. You look at the situation and you try, with all your weight, to shift the forces that be, to rearrange your feelings so that it doesn’t hurt anymore. How could this be happening? My feet were aching! And it seemed that my feelings were completely invalidated by my 2 new boyfriends. It seemed that unlike me, they were living a completely worry free existence. That our relationship had become one sided, or one heeled.
So I did what most of us do in a relationship that seems to be on the rocks. I passive aggressively walked on the pebbled corridors with conviction, casually complimenting other shoes, I stubbornly thought that I could walk it out, I could beat the burn. Unfortunately as is usually the case, I only ended up hurting myself more. Blisters were beginning to form on my right foot, my calves were begging me to sit down but on I pressed. Willful, determined, compromising, cunning and manipulative I was.
We were at a crossroads, I was exhausted and like most men I’ve dated… my partners still absolutely oblivious to any wrong doing on their part. I thought to myself, maybe it’s time we sat down and really spoke about our priorities. Maybe we should take a break, think things over, give each other space.
I was walking away, satisfied with my bravery and confrontational skills when I received a tap on the shoulder from a security guard. I was going to be removed from the casino unless I put my shoes back on. I tried to explain my situation; about the complexities of our relationship (This was all done with a very sexy and slight slur which couldn’t have helped my predicament) I tried to justify all the wrongs in our toxic relationship to no avail. I went to my car, swaying and clutching on to Eddy’s shoulder. I pulled out my “back up” flat pumps from the back seat and eased them onto my feet. If there was such a thing as a foot orgasm, I had 7. I glanced back as I walked away, comfortable and 3 inches shorter in stature and in spirit. Why couldn’t I make it work? Why couldn’t we share more steps, stairs and escalators on our journey together? It hurts to let something, or someone you love go… even when you know it’s the right thing to do.
My beautiful heels are in my cupboard and yes, they do come out to play sometimes. We have an understanding now as to what it is that we are able to give each other. They are never going to be pumps and I am never going to be a 5 ft 2, size 5 shoe gal that trots around in heels all day. It’s just not going to happen. I like to think they taught me a valuable lesson, a lesson that reminds me of a Billboard I saw years ago on the side of the M1 highway. The advert read: “If you don’t like that world that you see, change the way that you see the world.” My shoes and I do dinner and movie dates that only require a maximum of 45 – 60 minutes stand and walking time. We’ve both just realized that all of the things we want each other to be, we never will be but that’s ok. We’ve found a new way to see our commitment to each other, an unspoken agreement.
I think back to the day we first met, how naïve we both were. It’s nice to feel like I still have that hopeless belief in love, no matter how hard the journey may be. The drama, the longing, the compromise. But it’s also good and necessary to know what it is that you want and not to be too disillusioned with love goggles or impulse shopping. When it comes to relationships, if you’re boots are made for walking… well then that’s what you have to do. We flirt with the idea of our sole mate, we fantasize and imaginatize and sensationalize and we want so badly for it to be a perfect fit every time. In reality the shoes don’t always make the woman. So ladies, whether it’s Steve Madden tickling your toes or Guess keeping you guessing just make sure that if the shoe fits, you can wear it. And if you can’t, you better be brave enough to walk away.