Sunday, January 9, 2011

Bad at Shoes

I am shoe-style impaired. I go from UGG boots in the winter to flip-flops for the rest of the year and then back to UGGs when it gets too cold to wear flip-flops. I have worn UGGs since way back before they were fashionable. They were even clunkier back then. Sometimes I wear my Birkenstock’s for in-between weather. I like footwear that feels like I’m not wearing anything on my feet.

In the 1980s, when I decided to get out of technical theater and find a desk job as a writer, I went on a job interview at a publishing company. At that time I was intimidated by footwear and didn’t think I had enough money to buy fashionable shoes. I went out and bought one pair of plain black flats to wear to the interview. My feet hated them, but they looked presentable. As I waited to be interviewed, I snuck peeks at the shoes worn by the three secretaries in the office. They were out of my league when it came to shoe styles. I wondered how they could afford such fancy shoes on secretary salaries. Then, as if I had conjured the conversation with my thoughts, they began discussing their shoes. As it turned out, all three of them bought their shoes at thrift shops. None of those fancy shoes cost more than three dollars, which was less than I had paid for my black flats.

A few months ago, I went to meet the CEO of a company to discuss my involvement with them as a grant writer. Corporate is not my usual stomping ground. I was self-conscious about wearing something appropriate. I bought a pair of black, open-toed flats at Payless Shoes. Unfortunately, I tried them on in the store with thick socks and when I went on the interview I wore nylons. The shoes wouldn’t stay on my feet; but I didn’t discover this until I changed out of my flip-flops in my car in the parking lot. I figured I could manage if I walked slowly and didn’t move around much while at the office. The CEO and I hit it off fabulously and he hired me for a part-time job on the spot. When it came time for me to leave, he said he wanted to walk me out to my car. I panicked. I wondered if the deal would be off if he saw that I couldn’t keep my shoes on. It took all my concentration to make it across the parking lot without losing one of them. He must have wondered why I walked so slowly.

It’s a good thing I work at home, because my usual work footwear is bedroom slippers in the winter and nothing in the summer. I’m getting better. In October, I bought a stylish pair of low-top black fake-leather boots (sort of Peter Pan boots) that are all-purpose and look terrific. On the same shopping jaunt I picked up a couple of pairs of dress-up shoes, flats with sequins (one pair black, one pair royal blue) and I wore one of them for New Year’s Eve and danced in them and lo and behold they were comfortable. So perhaps, at this late stage in my life, I am coming to terms with my shoe fashion impairment. My new low black boots even passed the scrutiny of my stylish daughter. Her stamp of approval makes me feel as though I have arrived.

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