Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Death of a Good Pair of Shoes

Now, by good I don't mean orthopedic or in any way comfortable; but good as in memorable, dare I say fashionable, and fun.

For 7 weeks in the fall of 2000 I lived in the town of Hitachi-Taga, Japan with my Japanese host-family. Many things were memorable about my time with them and my time in Japan (another post for another day), but one of the things I loved about the women in Japan was their choice in shoes. I mean, for those of you who have met me in person, you might find it hard to believe that I am actually only 5'7" given that I'm roughly 5'9"-5'10" when wearing most of the shoes in my closet (and that height doesn't even factor in the couple of additional inches my hair gives me!). So to say I adore a good high heel shoe is an understatement. But these girls- man! They rocked the high heels!

So, when in Rome, right?

I knew I needed to come home with an excellent pair of Japanese platform high heels. The one problem I did not take into account is that my 5'7" American body comes complete with size 8 1/2 feet which are huge compared to most of the size 6 and below feet the majority of Japanese women have. While on the quest for my Japanese shoes my お姉さん Toko would continually shake her head and say "American feet too big for Japanese shoes." And most of the store owners would turn us away, knowing that to try and fit my feet would be a waste of their time.

But then, I found them. In some nondescript off the strip shopping center I found a pair of brown platform loafers that would fit. They weren't as glamours as I had hoped but they worked, and in the realm of extremely tall platform shoes they could actually be "practical."

So I bought them. And for nearly a decade I've worn them here and there, more at some times than others, but each time I wore them they represented to me all the adventures I had during my stay in Japan.

Until last night.

Last night I was out with the fam at a gathering of some 200 people I know on various levels of closeness and friendship, having a lovely conversation with one of them about life and children, when a sudden loss of balance and BAM! One of my wonderful Japanese shoes split in half and I was suddenly lopsided by a good three inches. (Hint, when wearing decade old 3 inch platform shoes it is best to remember not to keep most of your weight on one foot while pressing sideways on the other. Bad things are bound to occur from this stance).

So there I am with a split shoe trying to decide my next move.

Do I take off the shoes and walk around barefoot. Sure it's the winter but I'm inside so it's okay. Right?

Or, do I hold on briefly to the person with whom I was speaking, carefully place the broken pieces together, and remain in that very spot like part of the decor, speaking with whomever would come to me until it was time to go.

Option one could have worked if I had had the foresight to wear socks with my big tall shoes. But I didn't and by 9 pm, after a full day of wearing the Japanese beauties, my feet were funky! (And yes, I did just admit to the world at large, I have stinky feet). So to take off the shoes would mean an immediate need for departure from our evening out so as to spare those in attendance from The Funk.

And since option 2 would allow me to stay a little longer without the concern of stinky feet, I went with it. And it actually worked well. But unfortunately there was no exit strategy as part of this plan. And there is no real way to walk from one side of a large fellowship center to the other in shoes where the top is no longer attached to the bottom. So at the end of the evening, I took my cue from Romy and drug myself out of there.


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