Sunday, March 4, 2012
The "Roar Series" Presents Phenomenal Women Writers
Finding a Good Fit: In Shoes and Men
By Stephanie J. Gates
In my early 20s I had a pump fetish.
I had red ones, purple ones, and of course no wardrobe is complete without the requisite black pump. Paired with a spandex sable dress and silky midnight sheer panty hose; I was ready for a night out. Standing in front of the mirror I would look at myself—first getting a full frontal view of the total package, then turning to the side to get a good look at my profile. I especially liked the way pumps complimented the calf muscles I worked so hard to develop.
When I was wearing my pumps, I thought I put the “S” in sexy.
Pumps were stylish, yes. Practical, no. They made me look good, and feel good but at what price? Pumps have a maximum wear time of 2-3 hours, and at $85.00 and up a pair, I wasn’t getting much bang for my bucks. You only live once, I tried to convince myself every time I bought a new pair. My mother warned me all the time about investing in things that didn’t offer much on the return, but I didn’t always listen.
Pump! The very word is used to describe a driving force or a drain. From Payless to Prada we love those good-for-nothing-but-make-me-feel-sexy shoes. Pumps are the bad boys of shoes—the ones we want but can only have for a short period of time. So, what is that draws women to these stylish, costly high heeled, no-useful-purpose shoes?
With pumps we feel young and sexy. We want to take risks—do things that take us out of our normal sensibility. Pumps give us that little extra sway in our hips allowing us to feel confident and not clumsy. With them we are able to create an illusion and step outside of ourselves. I think it has something to do with being fed too many fairy tales as girls. When we have an ugly stepsister moment, we think sliding our foot into the right pair of shoes will take us away from our miserable existence. Too often our self-worth is tied into the belief that pumps promise a “happily ever after” once we’ve found the perfect pair.
But the problem with pumps is we have to be “on” all the time. Tiptoeing around pretending all is well while forcing our feet into ill-fitting shoes. Pumps dictate how far we can go, and trying to wear them all day saps our energy and makes everything ache, and yet many of us endure even to the point of becoming immune to the damage caused by these shoes we think we can’t live without.
I remember a couple of pumps in my life. They were packaged well: good looks, good jobs, and intellect, but once I took them out the box and tried them on for size, I found they didn’t provide the support I needed.
Phillip was an engineer and a pretty boy---beautiful banana crème complexion, light brown wavy hair and a killer smile. We started going out after meeting at a party for some engineers. I thought things were progressing well. But after a few months I found him to be selfish and self-centered So, I tried to go along to get along because I thought our incredible chemistry would make up for everything else that was missing. It didn’t.
Jose was a caramel Latin cutie--a fireman who parked his fire truck in front of my house to give me his number. Needless to say I was impressed and called him despite my better judgment. I had met him on a double date with his friend; I was his friend’s date. I reasoned that it was ok because his friend lived out of town, and it was our first date. I wasn’t interested in a long distance relationship, so I thought our first date would probably be our one and only. The fire with Jose went out quickly when I learned not only was he spoiled and selfish, but had an enormous ego to boot.
For years I liked my men like I liked my shoes. I had a weakness for good looking men. I liked handsome faces, pretty faces, and cute faces. I liked broad v-shaped backs, chiseled chests and amazing abs. I liked tall. Bald. Fades or Locks. And truth be told, I still do. But I’ve learned to appreciate them from afar because I know “everything that glitters is not gold.” Age has taught me to be more discerning when admiring shoes or men.
Now those “sensible” shoes, the ones with the lower heels that allow the toes to spread out just didn’t have the same attention grabbing appeal as a sexy pair of pumps. Unlike the whiplash appeal of pump-like men sensible men require a slow and steady turn of the head—a second look. If we’re not careful, we might even overlook them. Some are our height or even shorter. Sometimes they wear glasses, and may even be sporting a comb-over to disguise their bald spots. Instead of abdominal six packs, their bellies probably look more like kegs of beer. But they’re wonderful when it comes to being supportive and dependable; they just don’t excite us much. They’re the good guys, the nice guys. The ones we find boring like the loafers stashed under our desks at work.
Paul was one of the sensible men in my life. He was just an all-around good guy. He never forgot my birthday. He called to check on me when I was ill or just to say hello. He was a perfect gentleman when we went out. But trying to spark something with him was like trying to light a wet fire cracker—no sparkle, no sizzle no nothing. And while I know he was not the good guy for me, being with him gave me a better understanding of the qualities I was searching for to sustain me in a relationship.
Pumps are pretty, but I don’t think they’re built to last. We know sensible shoes are the better choice because we can breathe. We can be ourselves. They’re comfortable, and we know they’re in it for the long haul. But too often we toss them under the bed, in the closet or anywhere as long as they’re out of the way when dusk falls. Nights are reserved for pumps. We foolishly believe if we wear them long enough we’ll break them in, but instead they break us down. We end up with bad backs, bunions, corns and calloused hearts.
So, why is it we continue hurting ourselves trying to make pumps sensible, instead of appreciating the pump-like qualities of sensible men? Can’t we find traits like kindness and thoughtfulness sexy? This is not to say that all tall, good-looking men are like pumps. There are plenty of tall/and or good looking “sensible” men, and there are plenty of sensible looking men who think they’re pumps. So if they look and/or feel like pumps; don’t be fooled. They’re pumps. Accept them for what they are: good time shoes. Know they’ll wear you out before you wear them down.
So, the next time you’re out shopping, take a closer looker at those sensible shoes.
They come in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors to satisfy the needs of even the pickiest women. Try one on yourself and see how sexy sensitivity can be!
Please note the names of the men in this story have been changed.
Stephanie J. Gates is an educator, freelance writer and editor. Publishing credits include: Being Single Magazine, N'Digo Magpaper, Mahogany Magazine and several popular anthologies. Visit her site at Stephaniesepiphanies.
Image: Stock Photo