The doctor told me to wear flat shoes. Then she added that the orthotics recommended would only work in tackies or men’s shoes.
I gasped in horror.
I mean sure, the ball of my left foot is agonisingly painful: a combination of having two digits longer than my ‘big’ toe and (and here’s the crunch – quite literally) wearing heels. Now the former condition proved quite successful in my ballet days – I always joked that being able to stand on three toes meant I was better ‘earthed’ than other dancers. (Having thighs better suited to sprinting, than leaping into the arms of fragile male dancers also contributed to my low centre of gravity, but that’s a whole other story); and I subscribe to the Coco Chanel school of beauty which requires one to keep one’s heels, head and standards high. So how was I going to cope?
Now, unlike Victoria Beckham (or was it Theresa May?) who laments the ability to concentrate without heels, I can of course think in flats, but being a person of somewhat abridged height, I find heels give me that little bit of flair and ensure that I feel invincible: as Shakepeare put it, ‘Though she be but little she is fierce’ and a little extra height makes me Dragon Woman. And yeah yeah Daenerys goes kaalvoet, but we mere mortals need more of a boost. Let’s face it, people walk differently in heels: I’m not speaking about teenagers teetering pigeon-toed in 10 cm heels like drunken storks. (One must practise, darlings!) I’m talking about that kick-ass class that only a woman in strappy sandals radiates. Manolo Blahnik says a woman in high heels ‘sways to a different tempo’ – well of course he would – he wants us to haul out our bloated credit cards and indulge in more extravagance … and we do so happily.
Mind you, I confess an elderly, fellow English teacher once called me into his class and, pointing at my shoes, declared witheringly, ‘Those are stilettos.’ Then he showed me the door – so his students grasped both what he meant and his opinion of the wearer … so I suppose you would be correct in assuming I probably deserve to have sore feet in my fifties. But like Ginger Rogers I do everything in high heels.
My husband and I visited Europe two years ago and if you’ve walked the streets of Paris and traversed the subways, you will know that such tourism is a bit of a route march. I strode those ways in heeled boots in the wake of my 6-ft-1 husband’s long strides. Sadly, my footwear purchased from Chez Chinese back in RSA, couldn’t keep up and I shed a heel during one of our ambles so I spent an amusing hour in a random bland Slovenian mall, trying on shoes. And bought a gorgeous pair of heeled boots again. I know – clearly I don’t learn. But I looked fabulous in the photographs.
On reflection, however, that extravagant flouting of sensible tourist garb may have led to my present orthopedic problems. And I suppose striding across the acres of airport terminals on business trips in my tres elegant corporate attire, not to mention years of teaching in heels have given me Shrek-feet …
So I determined to wear flats and pumps to school because, damnit the power of my personality could handle it! I submitted my flouncing fashion to practicality and went for (heaven-forbid) the ‘sensible’ shoe. I’m embarrassed to say that Green Cross was mentioned more than Aldo. And within a week I was depressed as well as sore.
Now I have returned to my ‘suffer for beauty’ ways, not because I want to be beautiful so much as I need the lift – literally. I had shloomfed around in my pretty flat sandals like an old vrou in house slippers. I know that my authority and drive do not come from what is encompassing my odd shaped tootsies, but hell I hated being lowly. So today I wore my high heels (they’re only 2″) and the world was … well … at my feet.
When I am old and really crippled I’ll buy an elegant cane.