Imelda

I have large feet. Officially they are US size nines, UK size 40-ish. Add to that the high arches and unladylike width of my feet, and let’s just say I am solidly rooted. Well grounded. Earth-bound.

The other thing that needs to be established is that I grew up poor. My parents’ divorce when I was 8 came at a bad time for us financially: Mom was changing careers, so she was in school full-time with no income; Dad wasn’t so hip to paying alimony at first, and didn’t exactly have deep pockets to begin with; the house needed a new roof; I needed braces; and so on.

To make matters worse, it was 1979. Even if we had had the money for nice clothes, nice clothes had been pretty much outlawed some years before. So I was stuck wearing hand-me-downs from the snotty family across the street — that’s right, I actually had to show up at the bus stop we shared with those kids wearing their old ratty clothes. Nice. We are so totally not scarred by that experience, but thanks for asking anyway, that was sweet of you.

In sixth grade all I had for school clothes were three different pairs of plaid bell bottom jeans (this was 1982 now, try to keep up) and a bunch of old KISS t-shirts that I totally should have held on to. Everyone else in my grade had already moved well on to the preppy look; you were pretty much covered with some levis, a couple of pink and blue oxfords, some webby belts with anchors or whales on them, and topsiders. That’s right, the whole freaking school was dressed like Judge Smails.

Except for me, specializing in keepin’ the 70s alive.

So even though I am all grownzed up now and can buy snappy clothes for myself, I have some issues. One of them involves feeling extreme guilt over the price of shoes. There’s still a bitter little sixth grader inside me who knows that all she’s going to get this year is another pair of sensible hush puppy lace-ups in brown that are supposed to last the whole goddamn school year.

When we need to wear nice black flats to the middle school concert, we will run out to Fayva Discount Shoes an hour before curtain time and pray they have our size. Oh, and we will make an extra stop at CVS for some black opaque tights because Mom doesn’t think we are old enough for nylons yet and we don’t normally sport fashionable legwear under our plaid bell bottoms, do we?

I am also somewhat self-conscious of my large feet, because I always feel somewhat Amazonian to begin with, and my feet just kind of seal the deal. So even when I can justify the expense of nice shoes, I tend to believe — stubbornly, and without thorough investigation — that they only make pretty shoes for pretty pretty little girls, not big old farmhands like me.

So when adorable Nita drove out this morning to give — GIVE!!! — me about 30 pairs of her beautiful shoes to me — IN MY SIZE!!! — I was more than amazed and grateful. I was — am — blown away. I am honestly having a very hard time processing how many pretty pairs of shoes I now own.

Not only do some of them say tantalizing words on them like “Ferragamo” and “Nine West.” Not only are many of them recent fashions, and snappy, marvelous, kickass work shoes. Loads and loads of them are just for fun shoes.

You have no idea.

For what earthly reason could I possibly need a pair of Italian bowling shoes?

Who cares!

Who needs a pair of furry, zebra-striped mules?

I do!

Will I ever have an urgent need for a pair of polkadotted slides?

I’m covered!

And those gold lame ballet slippers?

Honey, I am not taking those mutherfuckers off all night.

Tonight, this is what beauty, what friendship, what thirty or so delayed birthday, Christmas, and back-to-School presents looks like:

shoes

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