Sunday, January 10, 2010
The afternoon sun’s prisms stretch along the sidewalk, the very sidewalk my white opened toed sandals will brush-up against on the way out of the salon. But, for now, I sit in the cool comfort of an air-conditioned room, in a pedicure chair, and watch as coral strokes are brushed onto my toes.
Un-hum, I can just hear your excuses: “I have other priorities--children to feed, bills to pay, cavities to be filled. Besides, who can afford or take the time for such a luxury?” Oh yes, by all means, Hon-nee, it’s a luxury, and I highly recommend it to all of you nail fungus and cracked-heeled women. Summer means it’s time to take some of that grocery money and buy yourself a pedicure and a pair of opened toed shoes. Go ahead, be a bad girl, indulge your feet, and release those big bunions from orthotic-bondage.
Spic-and-span tootsies and opened-toed sandals will open up a whole new world for you. Trust me, I know. I used to have ugly, please-hide me feet syndrome. I was embarrassed by my disgusting, fungal feet, but all that changed when I took my sock cash . . . y’ know, the money I was supposed to spend on groceries, and headed to the Payless Shoe store.
I’ll admit, walking into the store in my beat-up sneakers, a knot bunched up in my stomach and dire panic emitted under my armpits. I was nervous and intimidated by the field of shoes. But, an enthusiastic sprint pushed me further into the store.
Looking this way and that way, I crepe pass sizes 5s, 6s, 7s, 8s, and stopped at size 9, in the back of the store. I scanned the variety of beef hide in a kaleidoscope of colors, until my eyes rested upon my dream shoe. I plucked the shoe from the rack, and held it to my chest. I must have called attention to myself as I stood there, crying and hugging the white, high-heel strappy sandal. I held it as carefully as I ever held anything, until a husky voice came from out of know where: “Hello, my name is Darrel, may I be of assistance?”
I wiped my nose and dabbed my eyes on my rolled-up shirtsleeve, and composed myself well enough to address the salesman. “Yes . . . Darrel, is it? Yes, I’d like to try this on in a size 9, please.” Darrel was taken aback. His stare stunned me into saying: “Is there something wrong? Don’t tell me you’re out of them?”
“Noooo, it’s just that . . . well . . . it’s just that I suggest we start by having your foot professionally measured. Too many people come into the store these days and never have their foot measured.” I stood there like a frozen chicken as Darrel whipped out the foot-measurement from underneath the shoe bench.
Nothing can prepare one for this type of moment, not even a counseling session with a podiatrist. I acquiesced to my fate and sat down on the shoe bench. With a shaky hand I unlaced my sneakers, pealed off my socks, and revealed to Darrel my innermost secret, the secret that’s been hiding in the depths of my soles. Call it what you will, intuition, vibes, ESP, but I knew at that very moment Darrel didn’t have ugly feet courtesy.
“Mannnn! I’ve seen hammertoes before, and corns the size of a chicken thigh, but I’ve never seen bunions that jut out like Cape Cod!” Shaking his head like he’d just found out his best friend’s dog was hit by a car, Darrel bent down, and placed my left foot on the measurement. Darrel’s irresponsible words did not provide the vital support I needed for my self-image so I squeezed my eyes shut, not wanting to hear what he was seeing. This delusion provided me with a relaxing respite. Although, I instantly acknowledged the catastrophe when he told me the shoe didn’t come in a size 10 and a 1/2. The profound impact of the lie throbbed in my ears for three seconds before I could say: “What?”
“I said this shoe doesn’t come in a size 10 and a 1/2. And, besides man . . . err . . . lady . . . The heels are way too high for your feet.”
I felt a controlled dribble of sweat leave my scalp and slide down the side of my face. I took a deep breath and with all the dignity I could muster said, in a soft voice, “Now, Darrel, you know it’s not up to you to tell the customer what is right or wrong for them.”
Darrel ran a finger around his shirt collar. All I’m trying to say is that the backs are open and they just have one tiny strap going across the toe, and . . . well, a shoe like that will never cover those Paul bunions of yours.”
My passion for the shoes provided an opportunity for me to immediately deny any poise I learned along the way. So in my very best butch voice I replied: “Darrel, listen, you sack’o’shit, just get me the fucking shoes in size 9.”
After Darrel returned with the shoes, I squeezed my feet . . . Cape Cod and all, into the heels. The tips of my toes, which hung over the sandals, gripped the hard floor as I plopped $32.86 down on the counter. I’ll tell you right now, Hon-nee, shoe fashion comes at a price, and that doesn’t always translate to dollars. It can hurt to look good. I left the store walking among the clouds in my 5-inch heels, climbed into my car, and headed for my 3:00 pedicure.