25 February 2009

Shoes and Toes

So here is a mildly interesting fact about me:  I don't have bones in three of the toes on my left foot.  It used to be four, but when I hit puberty and things started to grow, one toe grew a bone. In the others I just have a kind of soft cartilage, and in two of them it doesn't even reach the top of my toes - the tops curl over.

Now here is another mildly interesting fact about me:  if you know me, chances are you'll know about my toes or I'll tell you pretty soon, because I don't have a problem telling people about it. But writing that three-sentence paragraph up there embarrassed me to such an extent that I seriously thought about erasing this post.

When I was little, I wouldn't wear sandals at all.  Then I wore them, but I hated it.  When I got finished growing as an adolescent (finishing finished pretty fast, in my case), though, my mother offered to pay for me to have constructive surgery so my two feet would match.  I said no, because in order to do such surgery they have to take skin from somewhere else on your body, and I didn't want the scars.  So in some way, clearly, I'd come to terms with the toe thing. I've never stopped looking down at my right foot, which I feel is pretty elegant, and thinking how much better it would be if it had a matching partner, but that's wistful reflection rather than active emotion.

But today I was down in Cambridge attempting to buy some new fancy shoes, and after I'd 
requested to try on a beautiful pair of discreetly glitzy sandals (which are over there on the left.  Aren't they luscious?), while I was waiting for the saleswoman to bring them up, I found myself thinking, I wish there were a version with a covered toe.  Is there anything here as nice with a covered toe? And then I realised that I think that all the time when I buy fancy shoes.  With summer sandals, I guess, I've learned to ignore the toe thing, or accept it, but with shoes that are meant to be part of an outfit that makes you look beautiful, I'd rather have shoes that cover my toes.  I wouldn't say I know (in that adolescent way of knowing) that people are looking at my toes, but I would certainly say that I fear they will be, and since, to me, it's obvious that one foot is considerably shorter than the other, I feel that it must be as obvious to others.  (What makes this whole ramble even stranger is that the correct way to deal with this is not to tell me that it's scarcely noticeable:  I've had a boyfriend do that, and it made me very angry. Apparently the correct way to deal with this is to agree that they look weird, but in a level tone of voice, and then do something that somehow indicates that you know it must have been tough to grow up with weird toes.) 

After I came back from trying on the glitzy sandals (which didn't fit, so I didn't buy them - wouldn't my mother be proud!), I went online to try to find some ballroom shoes (which is what the glitzy sandals were for).  I've been a on quest to find the Platonic ballroom shoe for quite some time.  When I had a bit of a search around this time, though, I was mindful enough to realise and accept that I would need a shoe with a closed toe, or as close to it as possible.
So, seeking the perfect balance of elegance, comfort, utilitarianism, and psychological protection, I finally arrived at the shoe here on the right.  I'm not entirely satisfied with it (I think the front toe bit looks slightly odd), but I wear a size 4, and it's a 2.2 inch heel, which is about as high as you can go without incurring some serious heel pain if you wear a size 4, and about as high as you can go if you want to be able to move smoothly.  Plus it cunningly appears to reveal the toe whilst in fact revealing no toe at all.  Sophistication and mendacity in the same footwear package!

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