Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sensible Shoes

My grand daughter is very fussy about her clothes, as I may have mentioned before. Apparently her small town elementary school is an internationally famous training ground for the future generation of fashion police. As an aside, Kristen was always fussy about her clothes although her choices were not necessarily ruled by the "cool" standard, except as she knew it for herself. One weekend she spent the entire time wearing red rubber boots, turquoise bathing trunks that belonged to Mike, tightly tied around her waist, and a pink tank top. She was two and quite adorable, actually. There are some pictures that she'll fork over her allowance to keep off the Internet someday. Anyway, this season she seems to have gone for a combination of hip-hop, biker chick, and flower child--bling, boots and vests, patterns.

The boots are what slay me. Of course, it is time honored tradition to be outfitted with new shoes at the start of a new school year. Back in the days that are now sometimes referred to as "mid century modern," that meant, for my family, a trip to Abernathy's Department Store in down town Burlington for a pair (one pair to last until Easter shoe shopping season) of Stride Rite oxfords. Shiny black patent leather--don't even look at them! Strappy MaryJanes with delicate soles--pass them by! Sturdy tie shoes with sturdy, thick soles. Variety? You could get them in black and white saddle, brown, or a red that I believe was actually named oxblood. Every single other girl in my class--yes, every single one--went to Gaynes or Forest Hills and got glowing white sneakers, called tennis shoes for snob appeal, to wear to school. "Not enough support," was my mother's pronouncement on that idea.

Now, I have to say, I thank my mother for her insistence on quality shoes for her children. It was a big expense and my family was far from wealthy so it really was a commitment on her part. I have reached adulthood with healthy, relatively problem-free feet. I did break a toe two summers ago and I now have a bump on the middle toe of my right foot that lets me know about impending change in weather. Other than that, my feet have and continue to carry me through busy days without pain.

Do I always buy myself sensible, sturdy shoes now that I buy my own? Usually. Not always, of course, but if shoes make my feet hurt, they don't last long in my wardrobe.

So here's the thing...The first time I heard the expression "women in sensible shoes" as a tag for lesbians, I laughed out loud. Unfortunately, I was at an educational seminar dedicated to increasing sensitivity to students with varied sexual orientations. I got some very disapproving "tsks." Political correctness was just becoming a concept with a name at the time. The term still makes me giggle, though, I guess because I'm still a woman in sensible shoes.

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