The Things that Cover our Toes

According to statisticians with nothing better to do with their time, between 2004 and 2005 American women spent 17 billion dollars on shoes.

Imelda Marcos, widow of a Philippine dictator had 12,000 pairs at the time she was run out of the presidential palace.

What is it with women and shoes?

This comes to mind because of my mother. I am helping her move from her three story home into a “cottage” on my sister’s property. To be more exact (and fair), I am helping my sister who is doing the bulk of the work. Today I spent four hours going through Mom’s closet and after looking at wool coats she hasn’t worn since living many degrees of latitude north of San Diego and  an emerald green silk pillbox hat with face-framing green feathers – we came at last to her shoes. I was thinking we’d toss the lot over to Goodwill. Foolish daughter.

Even women in their nineties, whose feet hurt most of the time, whose toes have grown lumpy with calcium, love their shoes. I had to pry Mom’s fingers from a pair of Ferragamos she bought thirty years ago and hasn’t worn in fifteen; and she was obviously in pain when I took away her skinny-heeled black sandals with crystal baubles. In so many ways she is still the pretty Aussie with lovely small and narrow feet that slid easily into the spiky, pointy-toed Ferragamos, I Millers and Amalfis she could not resist.  When my sister was a boarder at Dominican Convent in San Rafael, one of the nuns, (Sister Josefa as I recall) had a particular Jones for Mom’s red stilettos adorned with tiny brass bells.

After I came home from Mom’s I took a look at the shoes in my closet. I’m not compulsive about shoes and the last time I bought a really expensive (or even extravagant looking) pair was after I sold my first book. On that occasion I spent almost my whole advance and was consumed by guilt. Still, I have more shoes than I wear and it makes no sense to keep them around – especially since we fight for closet space in our midcentury style home. Apparently no one owned much of anything back in the sixties.

But when I think of giving shoes away, I feel a real pang. Why do we have this illogical attachment to what covers our toes? Or is it the spaces between our toes we are concealing? Why do I remember my mother’s red shoes with the bells on the toes when I’ve forgotten so many good people and great parties? Why do most women catch their breath at the moment Prince Charming fits the glass slipper on Cinderella’s foot?

Here are my thoughts.  I think walking into a room in a stunning pair of high heels can give a woman a long-legged, kick-ass, take charge feeling and make up for a whole lot of insecurity. And what about high-heeled boots? When we lived in DC I had a pair of lace-up, brown suede, knee-highs covered in M&M sized brass studs. I wore them until they were decades out of style because they made me feel tall and sexy and powerful.  Shoes can hint at a somewhat hidden, not so obvious aspect of our selves. I have a friend who has a closet full of Choos and Manolos, the real deal. There she is crossing the street  dressed in a fairly conservative skirt and sweater, a nice little  semi constructed wool jacket, a scarf and a pair of F*-me-shoes that stop traffic and tell the world she’s not as proper as she first appears. Some of her shoes are so ridiculously over the top, they make me laugh out loud which is perfectly appropriate because she’s a very funny lady.

Now that I’m writing about it, I’m wondering why I don’t have any laugh out loud, F*-me shoes in my closet anymore. Is it because I spend most of my time alone in a twelve by fourteen foot office? But I like to kick ass sometimes. I finished Little Girl Gone (January 2012) last week. Maybe I’ll celebrate the occasion with a new pair of boots – tall and supple with a little brass here and there. I’ll wear them home and see what happens next.

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2 Responses to “The Things that Cover our Toes”

  1. Chris DP says:

    I love this Dru! I think you might need to come and buy your boots in SF, home of the most amazing kick ass boots ever made. Cxx

  2. Sharon Gilfillan says:

    I prefer to call mine, f**k YOU heels, which is inordinately amusing to me. It has to do with the attitude sometimes necessary to pull off certain shoes ~ as in ~ I know these shoes are outrageous and/but I don’t care What you think. It’s hard to feel nonchalant when your shoes are down there singing opera.