By Cindy Phillips updated Wed, Apr 4, 2012 09:19 AM
I went shoe shopping today. Well, let me rephrase that. I attempted to go shoe shopping today. Similar to jeans shopping, I have a difficult time finding the right fit, and the right height, and the right style, and shall I go on?
Much like the length of women’s skirts, the height of heels has seen more ups and downs than the Coney Island roller coaster. I’ve never been a fashionista, but I champion those who change up their wardrobe each season with the latest and greatest. It’s out with the old and with the new colors, lengths, patterns and heel heights.
So as I wandered the enormous aisles of the local shoe store, I knew I would see some styles that didn’t tickle my fancy. No problem, I would swim past those and wade into more comfortable territory – like the area where they keep the Aerosoles and Naturalizers. A five-year bout with plantar fasciitis will do that to you.
But sometimes the best laid plans simply go awry, and like the overwhelming magnetic force that draws our eyes to an accident, I found myself hypnotized by the brightly-colored, polka-dotted, strappy, shiny, sexy shoes that were strategically placed right at the front entrance. And as I moved in to get a closer look, I found myself gasping and shouting out loud, “How the heck could anyone walk in these things.” I mean I have seen high heels in my day, four-inchers that made my ankles hurt just looking at them. But these heels are platformed and the heel has got to be approaching seven or eight inches. And it’s not a thick heel with substance, it’s the skinny, spikey heel that sinks into the ground if you try to walk on grass. I know I have reached that age when we tend to anticipate what can go wrong more then what can go right. But, I know I am not exaggerating when I say that wearing these shoes can only result in a horrible ankle sprain or other foot-related injury. They simply are not designed for the human anatomy. Just how much higher off the ground do we need to go?
My earliest shoe memories are of grammar school. We wore a uniform and shoes were a part of the ensemble. The first few grades it was saddle shoes, so you needed to know how to tie a shoe lace. If your laces kept coming undone, mom would teach you the double-knot trick to keep them in place. By the sixth grade, we had graduated to penny loafers, only for some reason we were prohibited from putting pennies in them. I am still not sure of the logic behind that.
The minute you got home from school, you took off your “good” shoes and slipped into sneakers. Keds were the cool sneakers, but most of us wore more affordable knock-offs and store brands. My best friend’s mother worked at a local department store and got an employee discount. Diane was always wearing funky sneakers in weird colors, like neon yellow, as her mom scoured through the clearance bins for bargains. You always knew when someone got a new pair of sneakers because for the first week, they were bright white, eye-blinding white, until you got them broken in. When they got too dingy, you would coat them in sponge-on shoe polish to make them white again, though they never looked like they did when new. Some moms believed in throwing sneakers into the washing machine to bring them back to life. Trying to put on a pair of sneakers that came out of the dryer was not easy. They were tight and misshapen until you could stretch them out with a few wearings.
Today, flip-flops are probably the most common shoe worn, but back in the day they were only worn to the beach. In fact, they were called beach shoes. I never wore flip-flops as a kid. My toes simply could not acclimate to that rubber stem between them. Of course flip-flops back then were about fifty cents a pair and not particularly comfortable or fashionable. So I wasn’t missing out on much.
Twice a year, I would get a new pair of Sunday shoes, or church shoes. In the spring, or right before Easter, I got a pair of white patent leather Mary Janes. In the winter, or right before Christmas, I got a black pair. As I approached my teen years, the cool thing was to put the strap behind the heel instead of over the top of your foot.
I don’t remember the first time I wore a pair of heels, but it may have been to the prom. They were borrowed from my sister since I only needed them for one night. I must admit I felt pretty special in those shoes, along with my panty hose. Little did I know back then that someday I would make a pact with myself to never wear panty hose again.
When I went off to college, I brought two pair of platform sandals. They were exactly the same, one was a backup pair. Flesh-colored leather straps criss-crossed over the top of the foot while a strap went around the ankle and buckled. But the platform was the same height across the entire shoe, so there was no undue pressure on the foot like when wearing high heels. I want those shoes back to wear today. Heaven knows, along with the panty hose ban, those crazy high, high heels out there today will never be seen on this Boomer body. I simply don’t need to get any higher. Boom shakalakalaka, boom shakalaka.