I have always had a thing for penny loafers. I had a great pair (of penny loafers) in high school, a pair of Candie’s in burgundy that were so comfy I wore them until the sole began flapping, at which point I think I may have attempted to glue it back on. Eventually, though, I had to give up the fight and send them to that big shoebox in the sky by way of a Hefty bag in the garbage dump.
I think I was loaferless until a couple years ago, because I could never find a pair that was as comfortable as the pair I had in high school. By this time, the chunky shoe phenomenon was well established, and I dug this style, especially because when I wore these kinds of shoes, my normally 5’10” self walked into rooms at a subtly intimidating 6’2″. I confess to enjoying (more than a little bit) towering over people. I had a pair of biker-type boots I liked to wear when I needed (or just wanted) to give off a “don’t fuck with me” vibe. And it tended to work for me, both in the image I wanted to project and in the reality of the shoes themselves, which was that they have a thick, wide heel for maximum stability. I am not a petite girl, nor gifted with a surplus of inherent balance, and mincing about on stiletto heels really just serves to make me ridiculous. It’s like a grizzly balancing tip-toe on 2 acorns, only less graceful, and arouses comments in the vein of, “Oh, look at the fabulous shoes on that poor crippled girl shambling down the street.”
Not really the look I’m going for.
In time, I got a pair of chunky, platform penny loafers with a 3″ heel on them, for those days and outfits where menacing biker boots weren’t called for. And while they looked good, they weren’t terribly comfy. Actually, they weren’t comfy at all. The footbed of these shoes invariably was pitched at an odd, steep angle that often resulted in my toes tingling in a somewhat unpleasant manner. I once wore the biker boots to an SRO Duran Duran concert. After 4 hours standing on the Rialto’s angled concrete floor, I lost the feeling in my toes and didn’t regain it until a week later.
But did I throw the shoes out? Of course not, because they looked cool. Which, in addition to my propensity for squealing in the presence of things miniature and abiding love of chocolate, is right at the top of the list of my “Girl” credentials. There is a limit to how much I’m willing to suffer for fashion, but I admit it’s an amount somewhat greater than zero.
So a week ago Tuesday, I busted out my new and extremely fetching tie-dyed tights, a skirt, sweater, and the aforementioned platform penny loafers to put together a look that could be called “Amazon hippie schoolgirl,” and headed off to work.
However, something was not entirely right, and it became clear fairly quickly that the shoes were the source of this disturbance of The Force. I felt like I was leaning forward entirely against my will. But I figured it wasn’t a big deal, because I am a cubicle jockey, and would spend most of the day sitting, not walking, and I generally kick my shoes off at work unless I have to leave my cube.
Each trip out of my cubicle to get a soda or use the plumbing or ask someone a question, however, intensified the wrongness of my shoe selection, and the pain in my back started. Once I’d hit that point, I minimized the amount of shoe-wearing I did the rest of the morning, figuring I’d swap shoes once I went home for lunch, and I busted out some yoga to try to mitigate whatever was happening in my lower back.
I limped out to my car about 2 o’clock, and limped into the house with a look that could be called “Quasimodo hippie schoolgirl,” and wasn’t 5 steps in the door before I kicked off what I was now mentally referring to as the “shoes of death.” I left them in the middle of the front hall, headed straight back to my closet, and grabbed my sensible Merrells. If you’re not familiar with Merrell, they make high quality shoes that are orthopedically inclined, but not aesthetically bankrupt. I figured that, having divested myself of the Shoes of Death and done a few stretches, I’d be right as rain in short order.
That’s not how it happened, however. How it happened is that by evening I had a raging case of sciatica so bad that I couldn’t put weight on my left leg, so weak and so painful was it. In the rare moments I felt a little stronger, I could only walk by holding on to pieces of furniture and walls as crutches, basically launching myself from one piece to the next on the strength of my arms and one leg. I ended up eating dinner in bed that night, which, when dinner is fried chicken, is AWESOME!
Adding to my current pitiable situation was the fact that Scott was leaving town the next morning on a business trip for 3 days, and I had to be mobile. I was going to be on my own, with no one to bring me fried chicken, or anything else for that matter, in bed. So the next morning, I drove him to the airport, limped in to my chiropractor, and went in to work, where I lasted until lunchtime, after which I went home, curled up into a ball on my bed, and whimpered myself to sleep.
It is now a week and a half and 4 chiropractor appointments later, and I’m still fubar. I’m icing as I write this; I have been alternating ice, heat, and short walks in the world’s most sensible clogs during all conscious hours since the Tuesday the Shoes of Death struck me down. And may I say, it sucks? Back health is so important, but you don’t fully appreciate that until it’s already gone, like all good things in life.
Fernando said it’s better to look good than to feel good. Fernando is full of crap, to say the least. As a woman of a certain age, possessed of a disinclination to inflict this kind of misery upon myself in future (assuming I ever recover from this bout), I have of course put the Shoes of Death in the pile of stuff the Boys and Girls Clubs people will pick up next Wednesday. There was a closet purging last night as well, and some large-footed woman is going to get very, very lucky at the charity store because several other pairs of high-heeled shoes and boots joined the Shoes of Death in the charity pile, including the biker boots. If someone else wants to risk their back health, well, that’s their business (although I do wonder if I should put some kind of warning on the shoes), but my heels are going to stay firmly on the earth for the duration. Nobody’s impressed by a stooped over old lady; I guess I’m going to have to find some other way to be intimidating.