Every day at around 5:15 p.m., I head over to my friend B.’s desk at work so that she can see what I’m rocking.
Here are the usual suspects:
-beat up Rainbows
-metallic Sperry loafers (aka Instruments of Torture)
-dowdy old lady Cole Haan Mary Janes
My commuting footwear uniform used to be simple – Rainbowswhen it was hot, and the same brown Banana riding boots when it turned cold. But last year’s sad excuse for a winter meant I got used to trotting around in much more comely flats (black patent leather, gold lame, or the ever popular silver sparkles) wherever I went, toe cleavage happily exposed to the mild temperatures.
Now the fairer season has arrived, and I’ve gotten spoiled. My Rainbows- heels worn down from impact, left strap deemed delicious by my parents’ puppy, soles starting to split open down the front like an opened crocodile mouth – suddenly seem too Californian, too grungy, too informal for New York. I’m sick of washing the city streets off my exposed feet before bed. I wake up with pounding ankles and shins, the various pieces of my legs screaming after a routine jaunt from the West Village to Union Square and back uptown again.
Oh yes, have I mentioned that I routinely walk 4, 6, 8 miles a day? I should probably posture and say I’m worried about carbon emissions or pretend it’s part of a dedicated organic locavore vegan lifestyle I’ve cultivated, but the truth is, I just have a puppy and a disdain for crowded subways and fierce hatred of the gym, coupled with an intense interest in donuts. The donuts are probably the biggest priority.
So walking it is.
I decided that my feet are essentially my automobile, and if suburbanites are shelling out for car insurance and those in the outer boroughs are shelling out for monthly Metrocards, it’s only right to treat myself to some decently supportive shoes.
So I shelled out for the Sperry’s.
And it was a fucking bloodbath.
I spent weeks trying to break them in, sacrificing boxes of band-aids in the process. I shelled out an absurd amount of money on various forms of specialized blister relief, prodded and plied those shoes with gel pads and inserts galore, googled “break in Sperry’s help!”
And still, I bled. All over those preppy metallic shoes.
B. was mystified — she had had success with Sperry’s, said they were her most comfortable and favorite shoe. That’s when I started giving her daily progress reports on my footwear.
Next up were the Mary Jane’s. B. agreed they were thoroughly unattractive, but pointed out their better attributes: well-made, well-cushioned, classic black so as to maybe look slightly less like something an orthopedist would prescribe an octogenarian. I sighed but slogged on in them, deciding it wasn’t worth a stress fracture to look slightly more stylish.
And then, probably as punishment for my complaining about their looks, the Mary Janes started acting up. Jabbing and rubbing in all the wrong places, spiting me for deeming them “comfort shoes.”
I was not about to tolerate a pair of ugly shoes giving me blisters, that’s for sure.
I wish I could tell you that I just said fuck it, bought a pair of Louboutins, and started taking cabs. But what really happened is a turn I never thought my life would take, surely one of the most pathetic moments of my womanhood. Yesterday, I sheepishly walked over to B.’s desk for the evening report. I was wearing my good skinny white jeans, a navy striped silk tunic and pearl earrings.
And on my feet were a pair of full-out, balls to the wall, laces-and-everything sneakers. My version of a white flag.
Our entire row of coworkers cracked up.