Even though I knew nothing about love at age twelve, my new Easter shoes seemed to know everything. Cadmium yellow square-toed patent leather numbers with a fat buckle; the envy of any pilgrim. They …
Even though I knew nothing about love at age twelve, my new Easter shoes seemed to know everything. Cadmium yellow square-toed patent leather numbers with a fat buckle; the envy of any pilgrim. They played at being both desirable and desiring at the same time; running around on me. That’s how it felt. Steps turned into strides. Strides turned into dances. Dances begot bunions. Bunions needed Band-Aids.
Until then, I’d worn only Buster Brown’s, brown with brown laces and something inside called a cookie. The cookie was far from delectable. It was an arch support. The shoes of a geriatric, not a dotty pre-teen. In retrospect, however, they were boring but solid companions.
I adored the patent yellows for their dynamic attractiveness and the potential of expressing the underlying personality I hadn’t yet developed. It was reciprocal until I spotted another girl wearing the exact same shoes only hers were longer and narrower than mine. The twiggy of shoes. Suddenly mine felt like Mae West, trying too hard. Eventually, they split…at the seams. I had no choice but to dump them. My feet got bigger and I found out the hard way, cad yellow was flighty.
My next pair of significant others totally lacked pizazz: chunky Mary Jane’s in size eight. I wore a six. Mother demanded I get the larger ones insisting I’d grow into them, grow to like them, but they were too long and wide for me, causing my sockless toes to peek between the strap and the top of the shoe. I had toe-cleavage and it wasn’t pretty and certainly not provocative enough for a clunky fourteen year-old who desperately wanted a boyfriend. We were never a fit. Still, it took several sole-wrenching years before I slipped out of that relationship.
Black patent leather platforms—real cheap ones—hooked me from a dirty shelf in a now defunct mall. Bought with babysitting money, I immediately dipped them into Elmer’s glue, and then rolled them in gold, blue and green glitter before strutting out of the house to walk the dog. They were a tad overdone, vulgar even, but we made an insane pair; the kind that blatantly used each other. For me, it was a passionate, but quick affair with one last secret fling occurring under the robes of my high school graduation gown. Rebel-rebel how could they know? It wouldn’t last forever…and it didn’t.
Upon moving to Manhattan, my shoes got brains. They were earthy. Actually, they were Earth Shoes, which might be alluring now, but wasn’t back then. No wonder a pair of clear plastic pumps; Cinderella slippers, seduced me. My naked feet were thrilled in those transparent jams so delicate I had to constantly stand still in them. One crazy coquettish step from bar to powder room and, damn it, a heel broke off. I took them to the cobbler but, alas, they refused to be fixed-up; those heartbreakers!
A series of vintage open-toed numbers followed. You-know-what-they say-about-the-open-toed pump. (If you don’t, check out Amy Winehouse’s song list.) With polished nails, open-toes were callously flirtatious. However, their too short inch-and-a-half heels inspired but a brief triste.
Spikes promised heightened romance, a far too painful liaison. A pair clutched my feet during the filming of the movie, The Kook, wherein I was originally cast as a barmaid but was twice demoted; first to convenience store clerk and then to truck driver. How quickly the spikes disappeared only to be replaced by Earth shoes. Rebounding never works.
The loveliest thing about my shoes today is their sense of humor; soft, comfortable and brightly colored. They don’t mind that I call them ‘clown shoes’ because they’re confident, which makes me confident. We plan special times together; a long walk, gardening, sometimes a light jog. They want to know about me and I want to know about them. I think they’re beautiful. We respect each other and that’s love.
RAMONA JAN is the Founder and Director of Yarnslingers, a storytelling group that tells tales both fantastic and true. She is also the roving historian for Callicoon, NY and is often seen giving tours around town. You can email her at email@example.com.
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