High Heels

Last weekend I bought a pair of high heels to wear to an upcoming party. Not kitten heels, but real heels. Killer heels. Spiky heels that make me tower over the kitchen counter when I wash dishes.

Because it’s many years since I wore heels, I decided I should get used to them, so Sunday evening I wore them while I did my ironing. It brought to mind advertisements from the fifties that showed women wearing shirt dresses and heels while they cleaned their houses. I don’t remember actually seeing real women dress like this when they cleaned, but on TV and in newspaper print ads and magazines they did. I used to wonder why my mother didn’t dress this way. She dressed in slacks and sneakers most of the time. It probably had something to do with the fact that she had eight children and worked a full time job teaching school. I don’t imagine it crossed her mind to put on a simple shirt dress, freshen her lipstick, and slip into black pumps before she scrubbed the bathtub.

There were a few occasions, however, when my mother stepped out of her Keds and into a pair of black stilettos. I used to love to watch her get ready to go out with my father. She removed a tiny glass bottle from a black velvet drawstring bag and daubed Chanel No.9 behind her ears. She dampened a little brush, stroked it across a cake of Mabelline mascara and applied it to her lashes. And she applied red lipstick and kissed me on the lips so I could wear some too. She was tall, and elegant, and beautiful. I wanted to be just like her.

As I think back, my mother was around the same age then as my daughters are now. They too, carefully apply makeup, slip into something black and lacy, and step into heels. They are tall and elegant and beautiful. And they can run in heels.

Not so true for me. I am a jeans and sweater woman. I am practical and dependable and down to earth. I wear long pants to cover my legs and long sleeves to cover my arms. Now on the downward side of my fifties, my feet have carried too many pounds over too many miles. The assault of three inch heels leaves them screaming for mercy and an Epsom salts bath.

By the time I finished my ironing, I questioned the wisdom of my decision in the shoe store.

I’ll probably tower over everyone at the party.

I’ll probably get blisters.

I’ll probably teeter a bit, even before I have a glass of Savignon Blanc.

But nothing makes a woman feel so utterly feminine as a pair of high heels. And right now, I need to feel as my mother did. I need to feel tall and elegant and beautiful. So high heels it is.

Who knows? Maybe my daughters can teach me to run in them.

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