Saturday, October 18, 2008

Shoes I Will Not Wear

I see these shoes all over. They are sold through catalogs like, Modern Maturity and All About You, which are supposed to be celebrating mid-life. But now I’m also seeing these shoes here in the chic shoe shop on the Cape. These shoes have all kinds of euphemistic names like On the Move Comfort Footwear, but ya know what? These are old lady shoes.

A friend brought a catalog to show me a pair of these comfort shoes that she was considering for a special event. “They look so comfortable” she says, “but are they too dowdy?” How to answer? I look at the shoe and I say to my friend, “Maybe go for something a little more strappy; you don’t have to walk in them.” But what I want to say is, “Those are shoes for a woman who has forgotten what her vagina is for.”

Yes, I know that these shoes feel good but it is a slippery slope. One day you allow yourself to wear these “comfort shoes” and within a week you are buying a pink jogging suit decorated with gold embroidery emblems, and thinking, “That looks nice.” Or you buy a pair of these shoes with “manmade breathable uppers” and soft rubbery soles (so you don’t break a hip on the bocce court?) and soon after you are thinking, “Why spend all that money for someone else to put color on my hair; I could just buy a box of that hair dye that Sarah Jessica Parker uses. She always looks so nice.”

Maybe it’s a matter of chemistry: You buy a pair of comfort shoes in a “nice, practical” navy or worse, in ivory, and after a few wearings the chemicals in the shoe enter your brain and you begin to think that pants with an elastic waist make perfect sense. I mean, after all, you gain a little weight now and then so wouldn’t it be nice if you didn’t need to buy new pants every time you gain a pound? A little elastic and you are all set. Or you begin to think that you don’t really need new underwear every year. You could buy one of those “bra extenders” and get more life out of the old bras. Did you really ever have to go to the hospital and have someone see your raggedy drawers? No, of course not.

This all begins with the shoes.

Guard yourself and help your friends too. Comfort shoes are a frightening thing. They are the end of sex and the end of independent thought. In these shoes you will give up reading new fiction and listening to public radio. You will claim that you don’t know who Arianna Huffington is and you will think the red string on Madonna’s wrist is to remind her to buy a birthday card for her brother. No, these are truly end-of-life footwear.

But even saying that I have this request: Even if I am to be buried and the law requires that corpses wear shoes, or even if I am going to be cremated, please do not put “comfort shoes” on my feet. Gold sandals, a simple Ferragamo pump if you have to, or rubber thongs. Wherever I go from here, it’s still about best foot forward.

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