• Jennifer Strube

walk much?


No proper discussion can be had about life in the Redlands without mentioning stilettos. Here, shoes rival the Shanghai skyscrapers. The heels make Everest look small and the US National debt seem like cake walk. 

And no one has problems walking it. 

Now, I am a girl who knows my shoes. I pride myself on my boot collection back home in California, with leathers ranging from cowgirl goldtips to the everyday black pleather thigh-high. In sunny coastal California, boots are a fashion commodity. You put on the uggs because the weather has dipped into a chilly 64 degrees, with a roaring SW wind of 5 mph, making the wind chill forecast a blistery 62. In these frosty conditions, out come the Australian sheepskins to keep your lower appendages warm and close to the farmlands.

Here, the weather has yet to broach humane levels. I have seen the sun once, but that’s just because it made a mistake and accidentally came out. I think even the cockroaches are in revolt, ready to march the square asking for reparations for their frozen antennas. With sinly temperatures of 9 degrees, you cannot leave the building without the underwear, the long underwear, the knit bunny hat, the scarf, the second scarf to wrap around the knit bunny hat, the lime green down jacket, the nurse face mask…

And stilettos.

I have been trying to wrap my seven layers of head clothing around this foot fashion necessity. I am beginning to feel bad for the ankles, really. Do they get a say in this fashion line? Exposed, hypothermic, forced into submission and erected ten inches taller than the rest of the toes. What do they think when the see the rest of the body adorned in Chanel and cashmere, as they get left out in the tundra? What did they ever do to deserve to be the bastard step-child of the body? They are good little ankles.

Bare naked ankles, however, pale in comparison to the second dilemma of stilettos in  winter: 

The concept of walking.

In my personal history, high heels are reserved for special occasions, like Christmas eve dinner or the saucy dates I have been known to take myself on. On these rare treats, out come the Marc Jacobs 2.5 inch fare, enough to raise my gargantuan height to a lofty 5 foot 5. I admit, it is marvelous viewing the world from the perspective of angels, peering down on children’s heads as though I was a real adult. I can look people in the eye and not have to hug Uncle Harry at his awkward beltline level. It feels fabulous being tall…

Until I start actually walking.

Once I start moving my feet in stilettos, it’s all over. I look like Ichabod Crane in his restless shimmy dance or one of those women who has the butt-burner belts from the 1930’s strapped to her. It’s a hobble kind of shimmy, the kind where I take a few steps and then plunge into the depths of my purse, desperately trying to appear in search of something important while my vertigo regains caliber. This is the very reason why I avoid the elliptical machines at the gym. Me and tiptoed walking just don’t mix. Then, add a slimlined toothpick under my heel when on my tiptoes and call that a shoe? And then ask me to walk? Um, there will be no walking. There will be no anything.

There will only be a full body cast when I bite it on the street.

Not the local women. Even in the dead of winter, skin flawlessly paled from lack of sun and whitening creams, stilettos will be worn. On the pavement. In the city. Over grates. Through the potholes. And they shall not be moved.

Or actually, they will be moved. In fact, they will move very quickly. Faster than I can walk in boots.

I have studied carefully these stilettoed women. I look for a flinch. I watch for a shuffle. Nothing. Last weekend in Shanghai, in the rain, over a 150 women ran a 5k in high heels in celebration of International Women’s Day. Now I celebrate being a woman too — by putting on my calico bathrobe and drawing a nice warm bath. Shoeless. Running a 5k in stilettos? These women should have international fame. Why is no one adding this to the list of X Games for the summer Olympics? I have never heard of such a death defying feet in all of my life. Forget running, I want to ask them if they have taken a class on high heeled shoe triathlons and if or where I can sign up, because whoever their teacher is, she is brilliant. 

As for me, I like my uggs, but uggs here are reserved for male photographers, who line the parks on Saturdays in their gel-slicked mohawks and skinny jeans, as they take pictures of the brides and grooms decorating the park with white tuxedos and Vera Wang lace. Under one such bride’s gown, I did see a pair of red converse. I smiled at the fashion rebel, who reminded me that I too was still a woman, despite my resistance to skyscraper shoe walking. I smiled too at the uggs on the men, reminding me that I am not the only one thinking it is cold. Yet, even the men here are more hip than I am, their uggs rocking levels of fur I didn’t know existed outside of yakdom. I’ve never felt so frumpy in all my life.

I guess it’s time to hit the elliptical machines after all.

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