Blog: Work Shoes

Friday night, heading out for a movie and dinner with Frank, and I suddenly have the urge to dress my feet in something snazzier than sneakers or my old, brown Timberland boots.

There’s a faint memory stirring in the back of my mind that leads me straight to the back of my closet. And lo! From its dusty depths I pull out a pair of black leather ankle boots with 3” heels and a sassy tassel.

I haven’t worn these shoes since I stopped working. I have a vivid memory of purchasing them: it was a Saturday in December of 2012 and I was strolling the shops at Columbus Circle. There was a sale at Stuart Weitzman. Even on sale, the price of these particular shoes made me catch my breath. But I tried them on: hoisting my sweatpants up slightly to get the full effect, I tottered to one of the tiny floor mirrors used only by shoe shoppers and mice, and checked out my dogs.

My bad angel wasted no time. “Buy them!” it said. “In four months you’ll be unemployed … oops, I mean, ‘retired’ … and you’ll be too cheap to splurge like this.” My good angel countered: “For what these cost, you could buy Christmas toys for dozens of needy children. Put. Them. BACK.”

Needless to say, my bad angel won. Over the next several chilly months I wore them to work in New York City and North Carolina, to business meetings and conferences, on airplanes, trains and subways, to swanky restaurants and seedy bars.

In 2013, I retired. And then I moved to California.

Fast forward to last night: there I am, kneeling in my closet in my underwear and polishing these selfsame boots.

Right before we leave, I pull them on, slide the zippers up, admire the sassy tassel. I stand up.

Surely, I’ve put them on wrong. The rigid leather is crushing the bones of my feet. I can’t move my toes. Soon, I can’t even feel my toes. Hastily, I pull off the boots, reverse them. Nope, even worse.

I’m confused. Have my feet gained weight over the past couple of years? Did the shoes, neglected and unworn, shrink to spite me?

Nonsense, I tell myself. You can do this. You have run marathons, scaled mountains, leg wrestled your spouse. I rally, take a few tentative steps, and make it out the door without breaking an ankle.

The evening passes in agony. My feet can’t breathe. I fidget during the movie, wondering if I can just slip them off. But the theater is crowded and I’m worried that the combination of leather, wool socks and my sweaty feet will unleash an odor reminiscent of an adolescent boy’s jockstrap.

Afterwards, at the restaurant, I order a $12 cocktail in hopes it will ease my podiatric pain. Followed by a glass of wine. Then I down half of Frank’s beer.

By the time we get home, I’m prancing like a show pony. But the next morning, I’m limping like a hobbled horse.

I keep a Hefty garbage bag in my closet for clothing I’ve decided to donate. Regretfully, I open it. Gently, I nestle the shoes beneath an old ruffled blouse. There will be other shoes in your future, I console myself. Surely I could use a new pair of flip-flops?


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