Monday, August 13, 2012


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.


Carola said...

I stopped wearing high heels in my early 40s (and I never wore them very high). I wore sandal-like flats at work until my feet needed more support and then I switched to wonderful beige "old-lady" flat shoes--it was like a statement: "This is who I am now and I like it." Now that I am retired I wear athletic shoes all the time except for dressup when I switch to the sandal-like flats.

Marla M said...

I'm with you on this one! Even when I was much younger, I hated wearing uncomfortable shoes. I have high arches and short feet, so heels always made me feel very unstable!

Anonymous said...

I can't wear high heels any more either. I guess you reach a certain age and that's it.
I do a lot of walking with our dogs, so have a collection of special walking shoes with arch support. Sigh.
It CAN be no fun growing old, but only if you let it.
I wear walking shoes when I'm working out too. My own personal ellipse lives in a spare room.
I have a fancy pair of ski boots and cross country skis for fun in the winter.
Plus a collection of practical footwear for hiking, barn chores and snow wear.
That's the story, Morning Glory. If you don't die young, you age, and have to adapt.
I'm now at an age I never really believed I'd reach when I was young. I've become my mother, and am rocketing into grandmother territory.
It's a shock to watch the olympics and know that your chance to compete, regardless of whether you would have or not, is forever gone.
All reflected in our shoes.
My six inch red stilletos gently weep, gathering dust, in my closet.
Louise Sorensen
louise3anne twitter

OR said...

I hate to say it but I really like seeing ladies in flat shoes. They look so feminine, and I do so like feminine ladies. yet so few around nowadays. Women in high heels just don't do it for me. They either look over-confident or opposite.

In flat shoes she looks sure footed. Natural. Elegant.

Anonymous said...

I like your black sneaker shoes! I wear black UPS tennis shoes that are corrective and sturdy for the bad feet problem. Plus these shoes are big enough for my foot and leg brace to fit inside ok. If they are comfy and work, then more power to us Em! kam

Unknown said...

I think your shoes are lovely, Em.

Unknown said...

The most promising thing about your black shoes is that they look like they will let you move fast when you need to. Bet you can dance in them too. Also, they are cute.

email is

Anonymous said...

I used to work in 4 inch heels all the time and own a boutique, so I'm on my feet all day. After two injuries - one to my foot and one to my knee - I cann no longer wear high heels. I miss them. There is something so ultra femininine and chic about heels.
The key to shoes is investing in good shoes and wearing pads. Find shoes that fit right. They shouldn't hurt. And change your shoes at least once a day if you can. The height and shape change is good for your feet. Thankfully with the right inserts we can wear good shoes and good looking shoes. I recommend Cole Haan and Donald Pliner as great shoes! Thanks for this story! Sounds like an awesome play too!

Billy Ray Chitwood said...

Don't wear shoes most of the time --- hey, I live on the beach. Used to wear shoes and never really went overboard with the expensive footies, mostly loafers with little doodads hanging on the front. Had some high-shine shoes that I wore with my Hart-S-Marx suits. Probably looked presentable but likely could never have been accused of having great taste.

Now, I just walk around in shorts and a Tommy Bahama type shirts...feet get sweaty and probably stinky at times (more information than you needed to know!). But I get away with it because that other stuff is behind me.

Keep writing, your style.

Billy Ray

Harriet Cammock said...

My shoes must say a lot. I'm short and wear 4-6 inch heels. I love, love high heels. It must be that it makes me feel more feminine. Did I mention that I can run in them too? Seriously, I learned a long time ago that my legs are short and too appear to be tall I need heels, high heels. When my world is topsy turvy I look down at my feet in high heels and smile

Harriet Cammock said...

I love high heels. I own several pairs in different colors. I tend to wear solid colors however I have been known to choose unusual patterns. I'm not a fan of high heeled sandals as I can never find one in which my feet won't slide. When I do choose to wear heeled sandals they are more often than not platforms or wedges. I learned a long time ago that my legs are short (I'm 5' )+ and like the look of long legs, lol. My heels make me feel feminine and beautiful. On days when my world is topsy turvy I look down at my feet in high heels and smile.

Gus Write said...

Em, the stockings are lovely! :)!

Anonymous said...

Julian Speed

I like those fashionable tennis shoes you sport EM :-)

Depending on the make my size varies from 11,11.5 all the way to 12.

Speaking from a guy's perspective I have always been about comfort with it comes to shoes. If the shoes are not comfortable I wont wear them.

I have however fooled myself on a few occasions where I really liked the style or make of the shoe and thought they were comfortable- Only to discover later that they didnt really pass the comfort test.

If it's a movie night or something casual the tennis shoes are on.

Speaking of tennis shoes-I was in Vegas two years ago with Ang and I wanted to grab some comfortable tennis shoes because we were doing quite a bit of walking. I purchased a pair of addidas almost similar to your style of tennis shoe and haven't switched brands since. Now Im stuck on addidas regardless of the style and I cant really explain it.
Who knows... I may branch out and try Pumas the next go round.

I have drifted away from the tie string dress shoe and pretty much stick to simple slips on.

Fashion should change just as the seasons change or the palettes an artist will use in his or her brush strokes. It just that simple.