Author of Breasts Don't Lie

Archive for the ‘shoes’ Category

Friends and Shoes

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After the year of surgeries, as I refer to 2015, I am aware from toes to fingertips of the importance of friends. They shuttle you to doctors’ offices, listen to your medication-invoked ramblings, get the tissues for you after one more painful procedure, and feed you.

But I these memories are too close for me to view too closely. I need further therapy. Today I will pay homage to friendship with a goofy tale of two friends who went that extra … step for me.

Many years ago, when my heart was young or at least a tad less cynical, I danced tango. Not the stiffly beautiful ballroom tango but the achey-breakey heart Argentine tango. The dance of the bordellos or in North Carolina, the dance of late night restaurants with good wood floors where the men dressed in black to set off the bright dresses of the women in stilettos. (I wore black Mary Janes with a 3 ½ inch heel, stylish enough heels but thicker than stilettos.) And tango has drama. Hot sticky drama.

At a milonga, the name of a tango flash mob, I was celebrating my approaching birthday when up meandered an ex-lover. Handsome in a calculated and soon-my-degradation-will-show kind of way. A mean as a snake, stab and watch you almost bleed to death before calling 911, ex-lover. And he brought with him his new … friend. Now this was only a couple of months beyond our break-up. A devastating affair where I felt like I had been sucker punched after three months of total bullshit back-and-forthing on his part. She sauntered in on his arm, plopped herself onto a stool, and looked around for an audience. She put on shiny high, 4 inch high stilettos with sparkly rhinestone designs on their straps. The men gaped. A fleeting image of clubbing her with them danced through my mind.

Anyone who has been in this situation knows you have two options. Leave. Damned if I will go that route. Or carry on. My friends rallied around me. I danced my heart out or numb along with my toes as my friends checked on me every ten minutes. Tension was high. Dancers and even the restaurant staff were watching. I wasn’t going to give up. I had a stiff upper lip being British and I had friends. Solicitous and goofy-assed friends who loved me. More than I knew right then.

Somehow I made it threw the night, agreed to meet my friends for dinner the next day, and cried myself to sleep. Putting on my happy face and a drawer full of make-up to cover up the dark circles under my eyes, I drove out to meet them at the restaurant. My friends smiled at me. Mischievous, wicked smiles reminiscent of “I have done something that is mildly illegal and possibly morally ambivalent.”

We drank some champagne before the chocolate cake arrived with the one, only one, candle. And a gaily wrapped present was placed beside the dessert. I made a wish, a completely unrepeatable wish and blew out the candle. I ripped through the paper to the box below, yanked off the lid, riffled through the wadded tissue, and drew out a shoe. I held out the shoe. A used shoe. Not my size shoe. I looked at them. They smiled back before bursting into laughter. I rooted around for the other shoe. Nothing.

“Why did you give me one shoe?”

“Guess whose shoe it is?”

We fell out of seats giggling, guffawing, all the laughing verbs. Eventually, I had to get rid of the evidence by burying the shoe in the backyard next to a patch of Black-Eyed Susans. These are great friends. I’m going to love these friends forever. They had my back. I can’t imagine life with all its ups and downs, loves and disappointments, without this depth of friendship. I hope you have friends like these to help you through life’s dramas.

 

To all my friends, past, present, and future, love love love.

Weird Times

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I’m at this really weird time in my life – mid 50s where I am working as hard as possible but seeing opportunities land elsewhere. In younger people’s laps.

My friends are talking about retiring, counting down the days, and planning their last great adventure. About five years ago, I realized I would be working until I died. Through a couple of lousy turns of the luck and some bad planning on my part, I will never be able to retire. Not ever.

Being unable to see a retirement in my future has impacted most areas of my life freaking me out. How did this happen? How did I not notice? Maybe it is a combination of my friends being 5 to 10 years older and in the last of the pensioned jobs. Maybe it has to do with being single or the two major downturns, more like plummets, of the stock market. Maybe it is a realization of the probability of being single when I die. Most likely the realization became embedded with fright after last year’s string of surgeries.

My friends are settling into their last homes and having what they consider safe adventures – cruises. Paying deposits for communities that allow you to move through ever increasing levels of care. I look at my townhouse and wonder how I will get up those steps in 15 years when my knees and hips give out. But who will give a mortgage to some one nearing retirement … So I have been told to plan for my infirmity. Like a good old codger, I have. Replacing the HVAC system. Replumbing. Changing out appliances. Getting stuff out of the attic and into easily accessible storage. Definitely must upgrade my refrigerator.

My 30-year yoga practice has changed. I said good-bye to the Level 2/3 classes, taking and teaching them. In class, it seems quite pig-headed to keep attempting something apt to hurt myself to appease my ego. But on interviews for yoga teaching jobs, employers do one of two things. They assume I want the gentle and restorative classes or I get pressured into those jobs.

I’m having to hunt down new doctors – my current doctors are retiring. I understand that my new doctors will be younger than me with little empathy for aging’s undeniable march. For example, my forty-year old orthopedist said, “You will never dance again.” I will dance tango again, even Lindy. Just watch me. “Wear sneakers 24/7.” Not bloody likely. I may lower my shoes’ heels from a 4” to 3” height but I will wear the handmade leather shoes from Italy with a tight skirt and fishnets.

I am the patient doctors keep badgering to schedule a colonoscopy, a skin cancer exam, but no one asks me about birth control or safe sex anymore. Maybe they think I’m too old to still be having sex.

Then there’s the men and dating.

No, I don’t want to go antiquing – never liked it so why should I like it now?

Yes, I do want to go for a hike at a decent pace.

No, I don’t want to have dinner at 5pm and go to sleep at 8pm.

Yes, I like to nap but I have liked to nap since I was 4.

No, I don’t want a sexless relationship. Sometimes it feels as if I have aged out of the sexually active category. I could stand naked by a motel with a sign reading, “The room is already paid for” and no one would take me up on the proposition.

Then there are the well-meaning people sending me articles to settle, for a man, any man who is breathing. No thank you. I deserve love as much as someone in their 20s, 30s, and 40s.

I am under pressure to go on that last great vacation. One doctor told me to do everything on my bucket list before 50 because after that I would need really, really good trip insurance. “All kinds of medical things happen.” Wow, groovy, I still plan to go to Argentina.

Maybe, quite possibly, I should replace the word ‘weird’ with ‘irritable.’ I am at this really irritable time in my life.

Bruised Soles

“Never underestimate your readers.” How many times had I been told this by all genres of writers? Then a few years back, at least three houses ago, I had a shoe-hurling experience where I decided the saying needed a corollary.

To see if I could do it, I would write erotic short stories: the kind of erotica where the sex exposes or hints at something important in the character or the setting or the zeitgeist. The sex and sexy words moved the plot along.

On a whim, I submitted a story never thinking it would be published. Surprisingly, it was accepted into an anthology (Book Lovers: Sexy Stories from Under the Covers). The editor gave me an option of using a pen name but I thought, “Hey, we’re all adults here. I’m way over 21. Been married twice. No one is going to mistake me for a virgin. And readers will know the difference between fiction and reality.” Boy was I wrong. Let me give you an example:

Late one night, I lay contentedly in bed after adequate vanilla sex. Looking at my playmate thinking nice, warm, fuzzy thoughts about him. He has pretty hair. Nice long legs (dum de dum dum). His momentary lapse into sleep with the accompanying snoring wasn’t too bad. Maybe he’s a keeper. I spooned him and he woke up.

“Read me something you’ve written,” he said.

“Okay dokey,” I said pulling out the laptop. He rearranged the pillows to listen attentively to a mild little story about pickles.

“That was good. Read me something else.”

“Ah, I could read you a story called Icyhot.”

“Sounds great.”

“It’s erotica. You know, there’s sex in the story.”

“I’m a big boy. I can handle it.”

So I read the cautionary tale about using Viagra in a hot tub. The room filled with condemning silence.

“How’d you like it?” I asked. During the ensuing silence, the comforter became heavier. I turned on the overhead fan giving him a little butt wiggle in the process.

“It was descriptive,” he said.

“Good. Do you want to hear some more?”

“No,” and with that he pulled down a pillow, rolled over and stuffed the pillow between his legs. Oh my.

Okay so not everyone likes my writing. Maybe he was tired from the earlier exertion. Shrugging it off, I cleaned my face, brushed my teeth and slipped beneath the sheets.

Sometime later, I woke up to a squeak. Reaching out, the cold mattress proved I was alone in the bed. Silhouetted by the various electronic blinks of cable box, TV, computers, and a 1980s cassette-playing alarm clock, the man stood at the head of the stairs, fully dressed but holding his shoes against his chest. Starting to creep down the stairs and out the door.

“What are you doing?” I asked, genuinely confused.

“The story was too descriptive. I could just see you doing that … having sex … you had to have done that … I have to leave,” he fumbled.

I reached around the side of the bed. My hand found a shoe. “It’s fiction, you moron,” I yelled. With that I threw the shoe at the man. In an act of kindness from some divinity, the shoe hit him squarely on the forehead, bounced off his noggin to tumble down the staircase. He shook his head for a moment before continuing towards the door. There was a muffled, “Shit,” around the halfway part in the not so stealthy retreat. Perhaps he tripped over the shoe.

This is a no-win situation. If I write erotica, will people think these are my experiences? If I leave out desire and sex, vanilla and not so vanilla, wouldn’t I be cutting out and dismissing a big piece of the human experience? Am I underestimating the ability of my reader to deal with life in all its bountiful body fluids?

For a few anxious days, I waited for a subpoena rationalizing my action as justifiable assault and formulated a countersuit for the price of a new pair of shoes. That thrown sole was mangled even bruised.

The necessary corollary to the saying, “Never underestimate your readers,” is “Always know your audience.” Or at least have a good aim and keep a shoe handy.

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