Monday, August 13, 2012

BLACK SHOES


My mom had small feet. she wore pretty shoes. Her feet hurt a lot. She talked about "corns." She talked about high heels being bad for one's feet. She started going to a podiatrist every two weeks or so.

Suddenly, one day, there she was -- wearing black shoes -- ugly black shoes with black shoe laces, and black low heels. They changed the way she looked. They were "old lady" shoes.

"How do I look?" Mom asked.

"Oh you look fine, Mom," I lied.

I have lots of high heeled shoes that I used to wear. I don't wear them anymore. I never wear high heels unless we've got a limousine waiting downstairs. I can't walk in heels. I wear flats, or sandals, or sneakers.

John Cullum, my husband, did a performance of "THE VISIT," a John Kander-Fred Ebb musical, with a script by Terrence McNally that's based on Fredrich Durrenmatt's play about greed and revenge.

The musical was performed, one night only, in a large Broadway theater as a benefit for the Vineyard theater. It was a full cast, orchestra and John was co-starring with Chita Rivera. The plot is a " downer" -- a wealthy woman, Claire, (Chita), returns to her financially depressed hometown and offers its residents a new lease on life in exchange for the murder of Anton, (John), the man who scorned her years ago.

The music is wonderful. I sat with John Kander in the back of the theater during rehearsal, and jabbered, about "Scottsboro Boys," the Kander-Ebb musical that John starred in, that had been so successful at the Vineyard theater. And I sort of bragged about me. Kander asked me questions about me, so of course, I presented myself as optimistically as possible, as we watched one of the big scenes.

On the stage, a young person entered in a pair of yellow shows. And gradually, with brilliant music, a hummable theme, with more people in the "town" appearing in yellow shoes, the "Yellow Shoes" number became a powerful idea, a symbol of young people wanting to overthrow the old-fashioned ways of the older townspeople.

Extraordinary music, wonderful idea -- pure genius, I thought, when finally everyone in the town was wearing yellow shoes, except John, the man that the visiting woman wanted punished.

The yellow-shoed people killed Anton. It was a horrifying scene on the stage.

I was wearing my black sneakers. I wear them nowadays, even when I go to the theater -- they look okay with my black pants and black silk blouse.

Yes, I wear black shoes, but they're sneakers, not "health" shoes like what my mom wore. I remember her shoes cost $80. Back then, it was a huge amount to pay for corrective shoes. Here's a picture of my sneakers.

Hell! Forget the price! Sneakers, my Reboks, cost as much as health shoes used to cost, and health shoes, nowadays, cost hundreds of dollars ... Oh my God ... I AM WEARING OLD LADY SHOES EVERY DAY!

In a world where women, right now, are wearing high and higher heels -- oh God -- like the yellow shoes. those high-heeled stylish shoes are killing what's left of my young spirit.
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