Monday, January 9, 2012

Oddly enough, these shoes *do* appear to have been made for walking

 Genetics is a fascinating subject. For instance, everyone knows the problems that too much inbreeding can cause, but very few people appreciate that too much outbreeding can also have issues. Offspring can end up with non-compatible features. As an example, consider the following cross:

Small teeth & small jaw x Big teeth & big jaw

Imagine – this could produce offspring with large teeth which don’t properly fit into their small jaw. I am such a case: I’ve had eight teeth removed, and the remaining ones are still crammed together awkwardly after years of orthodontic work.

Similarly, my feet. My feet are wide at the toe end, narrow at the heel end, and have an incredibly high instep. Combine this with my thin bony ankle and my chunky cyclist’s calf, and you will realise that shoe-shopping is quite a tortuous business for me.

I have a little bit of a reputation when it comes to shoes. I like shoes, possibly beyond the bounds that would be considered “healthy”. I get very cross when I notice a pair of elegant stilettos tripping along with the seductive curve of the instep marred by a price sticker – or worse, the tattered remnants of a label, with bits of carpet fluff and dog fur attached to the exposed glue.1 This isn’t OCD2 as some people tell me it is. It doesn’t keep me awake at nights, any more than the five wrongly oriented carpet tiles in my newly refurbished office do. It just jars, like a continuity error in a film. 

I think my shoe obsession is a relatively recent (well, the last six years) habit. My childhood shoe-shopping trips were long painful ordeals, inevitably resulting in me ending up having to wear the only pair of shoes in the entire High Street which would go on my feet. I could claim that the orthopaedic-style clunky shoes led to me being bullied at school, but I suspect that the frizzy hair, knee length skirt,3 braces, big owlish glasses, and complete lack of knowledge of anything remotely fashionable or up-to-date were more significant factors.

I was therefore both surprised and delighted when stilettos and outrageously platformed shoes came in to fashion a few years ago. All of a sudden, shoes which fitted my feet existed! I had a choice! It is possible than I never got over this abundance of choice, hence why I now own many many many pairs of shoes – mostly tall and teetery. People invariably ask me “how do you walk in them?” to which the obvious answer is “left, right, then left again!”

My summer sandals - somewhat battered due to much wear
The bizarre thing is, teetery tall shoes are comfy. Possibly it’s because the way they curve fits my high instep, or maybe it’s because the height gives the illusion of a narrow foot, so the designers can actually make the toe box relatively wide. Either way, I can last a lot longer in stilettos than people expect.

My current winter boots - also well-worn
 Nonetheless, I recognise the use for some flat shoes or boots in a wardrobe, so this winter I set out to get some. I have now spent a month searching for some “sensible” footwear, and have begun to think it is impossible. Ballet pumps? By the time I find a pair wide enough for my toes, they slop around at the heel, and fall off as soon as I try and walk in them. Welly-style boots? Seem to be designed for people with flat feet, and my feet are usually too tall to fit in them. Riding style boots? They are too tight around the calf and go baggy around my ankles. This season’s fake-sheepskin-trim boots? Desperately naff. Ugg boots? Bleargh! Lace-up boots? Fit me perfectly, but all the lace-up-boots have high heels, which is not what I was looking for. In a month of searching, I’ve found two pairs which fitted me – one had a low (only two inches) heel, and cost significantly more than I was willing to pay, and the other was frumpy and ugly and dog-turd brown. It was back-to-school-shoe shopping all over again.

So instead I bought myself some comfortable shoes to cheer myself up. 

 1 Helpful Household Hint – Lavender silicone furniture polish usually removes this residue. I usually have a tub reserved solely (badoom-tish!) for shoes.
2 Or CDO, to be alphabetical.
3 All the girls at school would roll the waistbands of their skirts over and over, to shorten their skirts and avoid conforming. I would argue that as the only one in school who didn’t roll my skirt up, I was therefore not conforming to the ubiquitous non-conformity, and therefore I was more non-conformist than the rest. Somehow, I still failed to acquire street credibility, despite my principles.

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