Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Of shoes and ships and sealing wax

My name is Anne. I'm a shoe addict.

The blue sandals.
I say that in case any of you have missed that about me. I recently bought a pair of blue sandals, posted a picture of them on Facebook, then had this conversation with one of my Facebook friends at church the next morning:

Friend: Oh, it's the new shoes.

Me: Yeah. I took [The Nerd] to buy black flats for the chorus concert, and came home with these. I am not a safe person in a shoe store.

Friend: Really? I would never have known that about you.

Which surprised me, until I remembered she'd met me during The Running Shoe years - kicked off by a bout with plantar fasciitis, and prolonged past usefulness by motherhood and the Mommy Rut uniform (stretch pants, solid colored t-shirts, and running shoes). But long before the Running Shoe years, and even during them, I was a shoe addict.

My addiction has its roots in my childhood. I was knock-kneed, and the pediatrician prescribed some kind of orthotic thingummy to go in my shoes to correct it. This device ruled out many styles of shoes, including, it seemed, all the cute ones. I remember standing in Jacobs Shoes pining after all the cute shoes while the salesman showed my mother which ones I could pick from. They were all reminiscent of the orthopedic shoes my grandmother wore. At some point, I think I gave up begging for the ones I wanted - it was fruitless and I knew it.

But they might as well have let me get the cute ones I wanted - the whole correct-the-knock-knees endeavor was doomed by my refusal to wear the hated shoes at all unless I absolutely had to; I spent a great deal of my childhood barefoot by choice. As a result, I am still knock-kneed, and while that may have killed any chance I had of being a model (a career I never desired and which was already doomed by the inheritance of my grandmother's prodigious bosom), it has not otherwise affected my life for the worse. But it did leave me with an unfulfilled craving for cute shoes that has never abated.

At 16, I got my drivers license and a job at Shoe Town. Shoe Town was everything Jacobs Shoes was not: there was no stuffy and intimidating salesman between you and the shoes - just rack upon rack of shoes that you could take down and try on yourself. No one to tell you they didn't fit right, or weren't suitable. I got to see all the shoes before they ever went on the racks, and I had an employee discount.... I was like a kid in a candy store. My mother had apparently given up on the knock-knees by that time - she knew when a battle was lost. I had my own money, and access to all manner of unapproved footwear. I was unstoppable.

I still remember the high-heeled black open-toed slingbacks I paid too much for to wear to the first Christmas party at my first job out of college. They were my first "sexy" shoes... and they were uncomfortable as heck, but they were gorgeous.

The Sam and Libby wedding shoes.
Eventually I gave up heels and entered the Sam and Libby stage. For those of you too young to remember, Sam and Libby was a brand that made nothing but ballet flats with a bow on the toe, in every color you can possibly imagine. I had at least half a dozen pairs, to go with any outfit, and I even wore a white pair of them with my wedding dress. But although they were cute and went with anything, they also had soles approximately the thickness of a sheet of paper. Plantar fasciitis reared its ugly head, and I had to retire the ballet flats for running shoes that actually had arch support. I felt like I was giving up my last vanity.

Soon after, I had Rapunzel, and although the plantar fasciitis healed, the running shoes stuck as part of the Mommy Uniform. Which I'm sorry to say persisted until Rapunzel was 13 and The Nerd was 10. Then, three things happened in rapid succession to vanquish the Mommy Rut: I got on antidepressants (and started caring what I looked like again), we got cable TV (in preparation for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics), and Rapunzel broke her leg and got us all hooked on What Not to Wear while she was laid up. I ditched the Mommy Uniform, and the running shoes, and rediscovered cute clothes and cute shoes.

And oh, the things you can get now - platforms that LOOK like heels but don't FEEL like heels... wide sizes in cute styles... comfortable shoes that don't look orthopedic... I am in shoe heaven.

And so, once more, I am not safe in a shoe store. My last vanity is back, with a vengeance!

[Oh, and if you're waiting for the ships and sealing wax, I lied - this really was just "Of shoes," but I couldn't resist the Lewis Carroll quote!]


  1. As someone with size 12 feet, I can empathize with the "can't wear cute shoes" teen years. Now that I can occasionally find cute shoes in my size, I have a Serious Shoe Fetish. My husband indulges me, the product of an impoverished youth....

  2. Indeed, attempting to restrict a shoe fetish can cause irreparable psychological harm to the shoe fetishist!