They called to me. They twinkled at me from among sensible square-toed pumps and frivolous flip-flops trimmed with plastic daisies. They glittered. They sparkled. They shone.
I didn’t even intend to look at shoes as I scanned the racks at my favorite thrift store, but a shaft of sunlight lit up the golden shoes. If angel choirs approve of 4-inch stiletto heels made by Fredrick’s of Hollywood, than those angels were singing hallelujah, as I reached for the shoes.
Smooth gold fabric, pointy toes and the upper part of the heel was clear plastic – an homage to Cinderella’s glass slipper.
Not caring who was watching, I slipped off my flip-flop and slid my foot into the shoe. I wobbled and grabbed a shelf for support. Sharp pain shot up my calf as my toes were squeezed into the vise of the narrow-toed menace.
Gingerly, I repeated the process with the second shoe. When I felt confident enough to let go of the shelf, I took a faltering step toward a nearby mirror. Trust me when I say, my feet have never looked better. Even my grungy Saturday garb of yoga pants and tank top couldn’t take away from the splendid sexiness of those shoes.
I hobbled back to my own shoes and removed the painful stilettos. Turning them over, I saw the barely worn beauties were only $3.99. I couldn’t. I shouldn’t. But oh, they were golden and gorgeous! I started toward the checkout stand, but then I heard my mother’s voice in my head. “Where would you wear them? What do you have to go with them? You’ll kill yourself wearing shoes like that!”
Reluctantly, I replaced them on the shelf and left the store empty-handed. As I drove home, I couldn’t stop thinking about the gaudy glory of those shoes. I showed my husband the picture I’d snapped with my cell phone.
“The blurry photo doesn’t do them justice,” I explained. He was in the middle of digging a trench in our back yard and squinted at me as sweat trickled down his face.
“Gold shoes?” he asked, and I knew he’d never understand.
I went inside, and kneeling on my closet floor, I took a shoe inventory. It didn’t take long. I’m no Imelda Marcos and my collection fits on my half of our closet. Two pairs of boots, one tall and one short, in basic black were wedged in the back with my yellow water shoes. Next to them: brown leather loafers, brown clogs, black suede loafers, navy pumps with sensible heels, gray leather slides with thin straps, fuzzy slippers and my running shoes. I worked my way toward the front of the closet. Red, pink, brown, and black sandals lay jumbled in a pile.
Looking up I spied my one elegant indulgence: a pair of black satin evening shoes with diamond straps and two-inch heels. They were nestled safely in their box until Christmas, or a formal evening wedding, whichever comes first.
When had I become so boring – so sensible? I looked down at the tan flip-flops on my feet. They do have a bit of silver glitter near the toes, but I’m pretty sure they are made of rubber and elastic. Rubber and elastic while comfy and practical can never be confused with sexy.
Kicking them off, I flopped on my bed and thought of shoes past. In college, I had a pair of black patent slides with 4-inch heels. When I danced in those shoes, boys wept, and not just when I stepped on their toes.
What had become of those shoes? And what happened to my silver-sequined sandals and my racy red stilettos?
And then I remembered.
When I was pregnant with my first child, my feet had swollen along with my belly. I grudgingly purchased a pair of low-heeled pumps and thus my collection of sensible shoes was born. It’s hard to chase toddlers when you’re wearing high heels.
Nowadays, it isn’t child chasing that keeps my feet tethered so close to the ground – it’s comfort. I’ve grown used to soft rubber soles and stretchy elastic straps. I’m a responsible, working mother of four, with no time to pamper aching feet.
I closed my eyes as the late afternoon sun warmed my face. The drone of lawn mowers mixed with the squeals of kids running through sprinklers lulled me into a summer slumber.
I dozed and dreamed of dancing in golden shoes.