Stiletto Stories

Lori Osiecki Illustration

At Celibacy Academy, we were required to wear saddle oxfords. Not just any saddle oxfords, but special extra-clunky saddle oxfords, specifically designed by the nuns to repel the opposite sex. We couldn’t wait to flounce around in sky-high heels as soon as we got released – I mean, graduated.

It didn’t matter that the high heels in style required your toes to line up to form an arrowhead. And it didn’t matter when the style changed and required your toes to be one length and fit into a square. It didn’t matter, because in high heels, you was hot stuff.

We hadn’t learned yet that if the toes ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

So now I got crooked toes. I don’t wear heels no more except for special occasions. Like maybe at a wedding. If I happen to be the bride.

I decided that I can be sexy without no help from high heels. I see them glamorous transformers mincing around the French Quarter in their stilettos, and there’s no way I can match that; but my gentleman friend Lust says I got plenty enough wiggle in my walk in my bedazzled sneakers. Plus my feet don’t hurt.

Thank God. These days high heels are on steroids. They look like designer torture racks for the feet. The soles are maybe 4 inches high and the back part is even higher. Trying to walk in them must feel like going downhill on roller skates that don’t roll.

But what goes around comes around. Now my own daughter Gladiola is in high school, and it’s her turn to think high heels are gorgeous. I tell her the only high-heeled shoe I think is gorgeous is one that has been coated inside and out with glitter and Mardi Gras beads and given away at the Muses parade, to never again be worn by a human foot. Maybe that’s what the Muses ladies have in mind.

Gladiola don’t listen. She buys her first stilettos with her own money, squishes her feet into them and proceeds to lurch around the house.

“They are sooo comfortable,” she lies. “They empower me.”

She read that “empower” stuff in a shoe ad on the Internet. I know because I came across it myself when I was Googling “high heels and health” so I could hit her with the facts. Come to find out, she had Googled it first. That is the problem with kids today.

So I tell her about herniated discs and foreshortened calf muscles and hammer toes. She tells me about elongated legs and posture which accentuates the bust and buttocks and may possibly strengthen the pelvic floor. She ain’t clear on what the pelvic floor is. (I read Cosmo, so I know that if your pelvic floor is strong enough, you won’t need Kegel exercises now or Depends later. But this ain’t the time to enlighten her.) I jut say high heels ain’t no good for floors because they leave marks.

I remind her my own feet look like pretzels with toes because of high heels, and I refuse to wear sandals in public until somebody invents a sandal that also includes fake feet. At the beach I keep my feet under water or under sand at all times and that don’t lend itself to long romantic walks.

I should have saved my breath. She got money she makes babysitting, and pretty soon she has bought her own Imelda Marcos shoe collection, which features heels from 2 inches high to ridiculous.

And when she wants to wear flats, which ain’t often, she borrows mine, since we are both a size 8.

I am starting to worry about this shoe obsession, so when she tells me that she’s being awarded the Brobson Lutz Science Trophy at the school honors convocation, I get real excited – it shows she’s been thinking about something besides shoes.

She has to get to the ceremony ahead of time, so she and her friends totter off early, strapped onto their platform pumps. I am running late, rushing around looking for my dressy red flats. Finally I drag them out from under the couch, and –- since it’s rainy – shove them in a grocery bag and run to the car in my Dollar Store flip-flops, which happen to be great for driving. I will put on my nice shoes when I get there.

Except when I get there, what I got in this grocery bag are two of Gladiola’s shoes; one red 2-inch heel and one red stiletto.

There is no way I’m going to show my feet in these flip-flops.

I think fast. I remember how, in a restaurant, when one leg of the table is short, it sometimes helps to tape a sugar packet to the bottom of it. I got duct tape; I always keep it in my car in case something falls off.

I don’t have no sugar packet, but I rummage through my purse and come up with an empty prescription bottle. I jam it onto the short heel and duct-tape it in place. Then I wrap more duct tape around the stiletto heel. Now I got two heels the same height, accented with duct tape, which could pass for gray trim. I hobble into the auditorium; sit down; watch my daughter get her trophy; applaud like crazy; cry a little; take her picture for Facebook; and hobble out again, stopping a bunch of times to be congratulated for having such a smart daughter. My feet hurt, but nobody says a word to me about wearing a stiletto and a pill bottle.
I guess I was empowered.

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