Monday, June 24, 2013

Judging my love life by my footwear

I have a love/hate relationship with shoes. I'm vaguely ashamed to admit I have roughly 50 pairs of them, and that I enjoy admiring and acquiring them.

I just don't like wearing them.

My boss at the day job routinely alerts me when we have VIPs visiting the office. This isn't his way of asking me to shake hands or prepare a memo. It's his polite way of telling me, "put on your damn shoes."

Going shoeless in the winter months is a challenge in a city where snow and ice blanket the ground more than half the year, which is why I make extra efforts to be shoeless in the summer. The result is frequent mud-caked toes and the occasional pointed look from my gentleman friend asking, "you're not really getting into bed like that, are you?"

My relationship with shoes took an interesting turn around the time he and I began dating. As longtime blog readers know, I went through an unexpected divorce several years ago. Not long after that, my evil plan to seduce my chosen "divorce mentor" for a friends-with-benefits arrangement morphed into a delightfully surprising long-term relationship with my gentleman friend.

But we were talking about shoes.

Suffice it to say, I was a little glum at the start of this relationship-that-wasn't-supposed-to-be-a-relationship. Luckily, my chosen "divorce mentor" (now my gentleman friend) is exceptionally kindhearted. And intelligent. And empathetic. And a great listener.

He's also tall. Really tall.

And because I'm – well, not-so-tall – his hugs felt like the biggest, warmest, safest, most engulfing hugs imaginable. Instead of feeling fragile, I felt safe. Instead of feeling beaten-down, I felt supported.

And yeah, I also felt turned-on. But I digress.

As my fondness for those hugs grew, so did my sudden obsession with flats. When I do have to wear shoes (an unfortunate necessity when I want to leave the house) my short stature has always given me a fondness for shoes with heels. But when I began dating my gentleman friend, I also began acquiring flats at an alarming rate. Every thrift store trip ended with me toting a cute pair of ballet flats or low-heeled sandals to the register. We're not talking epic shopping sprees here, since my thrift store habits mean I pay an average of $1 to $5 a pair for shoes. Still, the act was significant.

Since I'm a writer prone to overanalyzing everything, I stopped to think about what prompted my sudden change in footwear preference. Many women dating tall men seize the excuse to wear skyscraper heels, but I did the opposite. It didn't take much introspection to realize I craved the feeling of being engulfed in the arms of someone bigger and stronger than me. It was a new and unexpected joy to yield to the pleasure of having someone else taking care of me.

Is that a sexist thing to suggest? Perhaps, but I won't feel bad about that. I see myself less as a damsel in distress and more as a woman who figured out what she needed at a low point in her life and found a way to get those needs met.

After hoeing the garden with my gentleman friend's 7yo
daughter. She's not the one with the tattoo.
For the record, I still wear flats now more than I did three years ago. I also have plenty of kick-ass stilettos and boots and sassy peep-toed heels for the other moods that might strike. Lucky for me, my gentleman friend doesn't seem to mind what sort of footwear I choose, as long as I occasionally remember to clean off the mud before crawling into bed.

What's your relationship like when it comes to footwear? Have you ever selected something based on how it will make you look or feel around someone else? Please share!

I'll be out hoeing the garden with my bare feet.

I just wanted to say hoeing in this blog post.


Neurotic Workaholic said...

I like tall guys too, though I wish I was also tall so that I could reach things on high shelves. If I could go barefoot all the time, I would, because I don't like shoe shopping. My feet are very big, wide, and flat, so I can't wear most high heels. I usually just buy one pair of shoes at a time and wear them until they have holes in them.

Skye said...

I've never really worn heels much, so I didn't develop the ability to stand or walk gracefully in heels. And my feet aren't adapted to the pointy toes. I'm 5'8", so I am relatively tall (tho' wouldn't have minded being taller), so haven't ever felt I needed to be taller with a guy.

Mostly I'm barefoot or in sneakers or flip-flops. I have a couple of pairs of heels that I will wear when the occasion calls for it, but I prefer flatter, functional footwear. :)

Karla Nellenbach said...

not a big fan of the shoes myself. when i lived in michigan, it was nothing for me to walk to mailbox in my flip-flops or barefeet IN THE SNOW.

now that i live in the seventh circle of hell, the only time i wear something other than flip-flops/barefeet is when i'm out for a run :)

Lori Robinett said...

I went out and maxed a credit card once to buy a pair of cowboy boots to impress the "cowboy" I wanted to go out with. Don't know that he was swayed by the boots . . . but, then again, we are getting ready to celebrate 19 yrs of marriage, so maybe they really did help.

jennyhansenauthor said...

I do love a good hoe... (I just wanted to say that in a comment.)

Seriously, I do garden barefoot all the time. I mean, why dirty up a perfectly good pair of shoes?