Once upon a time I didn’t believe in flats. Don’t get me wrong, I acknowledged that they existed. They were just for other people, not for me. To my mind, the sorts of people who wore flats were the same sort who might show up at your house unannounced. Or, who might ask you to water their plants while they’re at Burning Man. Or, who might invite you out to lunch, but could you pick them up? And, since you’re driving anyway, would you mind driving them to run a few errands? And, did they mention their cat has to come along because its been vomiting a lot and they need to keep an eye on it? Those tricky flat-wearers, treading so quietly in their no-heeled shoes, pouncing out of nowhere thanks to exceptional arch support and multi-surface traction, destroying your otherwise perfect day of solitude and the absence of cat vomit with their sneaky, sneaker-wearing ways. Bah!
Well, that’s what I used to think of people who wore flats. Used to. Sometime in the intervening years since my very dark thoughts on the matter of flats, a flip was switched and I simply stopped buying heels. It was flats or nothing. In fact, this summer, I wore Birkenstocks nearly every day. [They’re on trend, damn you!]
It wasn’t something I had reflected on too much until this last weekend, when I had a small and sudden “what-have-I-become?” moment and became determined to remedy it by buying some grossly impractical shoes. They were gonna be so nuts. They were gonna be 10-inches tall and made of glass shards. A tiny marine ecosystem of tiny box jellyfish would be housed in each heel, and each footbed would be a tiny bed of nails. And, they would be hot. Like, actual temperature hot, molten lead – not “sexy” hot… who talks that way anymore?
But strangely, as I was looking at all those terrifying shoes, captivated by their sheer absurdity, a singular and precise thought came to me: Fuck it. I can absolutely appreciate the beauty of a well-crafted heel, but to purchase those shoes, any of them, would be to throw money at yet another box to collect dust in my closet. I didn’t stop wearing heels because I suddenly, inexplicably stopped buying them. I stopped buying them because I wasn’t wearing them, because they just didn’t make sense for me anymore.
The truth is, my own taste for flash and frivolity has given way to comfort and practicality, bolstered by the fact that I’ve moved from a lifestyle of driving around in cars to one of standing around on MUNI (and often in the various, slippery excreta of my fellow passengers). Where my thinking went all kinds of screwy was in blaming this change on age and “giving up,” when what I genuinely believe is going on is that I’m finally making choices based on what works for me and makes me feel comfortable – whether in my clothes or in myself. Feeling comfortable is awesome. There is no one that I am so interested in impressing that I would make myself physically uncomfortable to do so. If this attitude is simply a byproduct of aging, then aging is awesome and we should all do more of it.
Anywho, long story short (too late), I ended up buying these very comfortable, very practical, totally flashy, totally frivolous, hot pink, leopard-print, calf-hair, slip-on sneakers. Whoever designed the shoebox is either a genius who completely understands the challenging and uneasy relationship a lady can have with her footwear and how said footwear are unfairly deemed analogous to her station in life; or is, in fact, a 14-year-old girl.