Okay, that isn't a famous quote. I think that the actual quote that I have intentionally misquoted is biblical and it goes something like, "by their works you shall know them." But my father wasn't one to throw around a bible verse. The closest he came to the word of God was a spirited "God damn it, Audrey, we are out of Vodka." However my dad was big on maxims, pronouncements and emphatic declarations. One of those was about shoes. He warned me not to be fooled by a well dressed man. He warned me to look at a man's shoes to determine his measure of worth. The shoes, he instructed, revealed everything one needed to know about a person. You see, my dad took his shoes seriously. He always did. My father wore Ferragamo, Bruno Maglis and shoes whose names reminded me of unusual and obscure shapes of spaghetti. And, my father never ever-ever-ever wore tennis shoes unless he was playing tennis. He wore walking shoes when he walked. He wore golf shoes when he golfed and the rest of the time he wore serious shoes that he seriously tended to. He cared for his shoes with more affection and attention than I ever received from him. Each shoe had a fragrant cedar shoe tree that filled them with hardwood protection when unworn. He polished his shoes with great care and frequency. He used a cloth diaper to bring out a mirror like sheen in the Italian leather that served as a self-object and he quipped about how the only time a diaper was ever in his hand was when he was buffing a Bruno Magli. There were weekend trips made to his special shoe guy who was the sole trustees of my father's collection. And there were soft felt bags that housed my father's brogues, loafers and oxfords when he traveled.
My dad and I didn't have a lot of topics of conversation in common. We would talk about my grandmother, sports, a funny story or two and if out in the world together it was always a safe bet to point out a man who was wearing bad shoes. That last one was much like playing with a wind up toy, I would find a guy with terrible shoes and I would point them out to my father and ask, in seeming sincerity, "What do you think of those?" What would follow was an impassioned and often sarcastically delightful diatribe on the importance of a good shoe and what an idiot the guy in question was for wearing low-grade shoes.
I bring this up because I am thinking a lot about shoes lately. I am thinking about how ever since I separated that I can no longer wear flats. All I can wear are heels and not just a little heel but serious heels. I am thinking about how strange that is as before, when I lived with my husband, I was a flat wearer and didn't believe I had the balance, coordination or pain tolerance for heels and how now, each and everyday you can find me in a four-inch to four-and-a-half inch heel. I am thinking about what this means and how I have changed and how I transformed from a flat wearing Mrs. to a heel wearing Ms. and what exactly this means. I don't have answers yet, but I can't stop thinking about the question. I don't think that if my father was alive that he would have any helpful interpretations for my new heights, however I do think that he would appreciate knowing that each man I look at, if he seems worth a second look, that it is his shoes that gets the second look to see if the gentlemen in question is well heeled. I think he would have liked that a lot.
*The shoe pictured is the Ann Taylor Addie Sandal and it is 4.5 inches high and I can walk in it with the same ease as I can a Roger Vivier flat. Walking on water was a miracle, no question. Me walking on a 4.5 inch heel, me thinks, is even more miraculous.