Author of Breasts Don't Lie

Posts tagged ‘shoes’

Friends and Shoes

blog39

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

blog36a

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.

Elegant Feet: A Story for You

file5581302923593

“I have been told that I have elegant feet,” he said picking her up for their third date.

She had swallowed, tantalized, thinking about those feet. The imagined feet plagued her through the entire night – while he was driving the car, scrounging through the CD store, eating at the upscale restaurant, while playing word games at dinner, and on the drive home to her house. She plotted. “How do I see his feet without actually having sex with him?”

During the drive from her house, he had talked about growing up in Detroit. “The mosquitoes grow big enough to carry away small children.” She had searched the statement for hidden meanings. “Detroit is too dangerous and I left it for Kansas.”

“Oh,” she said dumb with desire for his feet.

“Now political speechwriting keeps me busy. It’s unexpectedly lucrative,” he said parking the car.

She watched him get out of the car – an older man than she usually dated. He had a fastidiously trimmed mustache. Arched eyebrows were neat and all of a length. His spare but well kept hair was gray sliced with youth’s gold.

“Depending on whom I am writing for, I grow, shave, and grow back the mustache,” he said.

He watched her watching him. Mustache, eyebrows and hair suggested light lashes but they were a thick, dark shade framing blue eyes. Startling but still …

They had walked down the street crowded with perfect twenty year olds.

“I was very skinny as a teenager and into my twenties,” he said. “Clothes were a trial.”

Inwardly she smiled at the cleverly chosen clothes covering his tidy body. He wore a comfortably rumpled linen shirt, beige jeans with a handsome leather belt, and a dark fitted blazer. But the clincher for her was the navy blue cloth sneaker with the brown leather stripe mostly hidden in the shoe’s tongue. She was unable to name the color of his thick, ribbed socks. The nondescript color of his socks united the beige jeans and navy sneakers. She concluded that his clothes were well coordinated and deliberately planned to mask the thickening of his body with age. He carried them off with an attractive nonchalance.

Her attention returned to his feet making her silent.

“Your head must get heavy with all that thinking,” he said. When he smiled, the slight padding of fat on his fine English bones made him look a decade younger than his age.

“Yes. Sometimes my hair hurts,” she said with a giggle.

As they continued their stroll, she had been curious about the type and color of his underwear. On the first date, she had taken him for a tightey-whitey kind of guy. Now she wasn’t sure. She thought he might be a hybrid, the type of man who wore the boxer-brief style but in a safe color such as gray or black. Would he be hairy on his stomach, back and groin or would he have the sparse tufts often found on blondes? Would he have freckles? Or moles? What would it matter?

“You may have elegant feet,” she said. “But you have beautiful hands.” Initially, his hands had enthralled her. They were the reason she went out with him the first time. Their hands were the same size. The skin on his hands lay flat and taut lacking the muscular depth of her hands.

“I had wanted to play the piano. Now it is too late to learn.”
“You love music?” she said.
“Yes. I have this good speaker system at home.”
“Oh. What do you listen to?”
“I love to sit between the speakers and listen to the romanticism of Schubert’s songs.”
“Why between the speakers?”
“I don’t know. Maybe better sound quality. The music asks me to sit quietly, very still as the waves of notes pour out. Do you like music?”
“Yes. I grew up in a family of musicians but I was the dancer. My feet always hurt.” She looked away. “I have bad feet.”
“They look perfectly fine to me. They seem to work. We’re walking.”

She fought an urge to cry. “What’s the difference between classical and romantic music?” she asked.
She nodded in attentive silence during his explanation. In awe over his extensive knowledge of music, she was still fixated on his footwear.

“I hear with my cerebral processes,” he said.
“What about your body?”
“It’s superfluous. When I’ve been drinking, I can tap my foot. I don’t dance,” he said.
“Do you think we have the same size feet?” she asked.
“No. I think mine are bigger,” he said with that same smile. She wondered if he would have short Freddy Flintstone toes or if they’d be long and prehensile.

“What do you do with the rest of your body while your mind and head is so active?”
“My body’s useful. It carries around my head,” he said.

She had smiled at the witticism but she was a little confused by the disconnection between his mind and body. It doesn’t make sense, she thought. He is touched to his core by music but his body stays still. She knew she moved her whole body in response to music. Each dancing teacher had said the same thing. “We have to work on your technique, especially your feet, but you’re an unusually lyrical and musically expressive dancer.”

At the CD store, he had gone looking for a vinyl copy of a CD she had played for him on their first date. She left him to wander in search of the more formally structured music she loved. She was struck by the selection of new and used CDs watched over by a young pimply girl in her late teens. The pimples covered her face, neck, chest, back, and upper arms. The scattering of wounds did not appear to upset her in the least. Clad in flip-flops, her feet were flawless – pale skinned, soft, and smooth. The young girl’s disregard for her wounds and her beauty shifted the focus to other factors, such as the proliferation and diversity of music in the store. She watched her date walk up and down the aisles of pressed discs. His feet did a fine job of moving through ankle, arch, and toes.

At the restaurant, he ordered a non-alcoholic beer. She had a lovely Portuguese white wine. “Do you mind me having a glass of wine?”

“No. I’m just tired after raking my yard all day. I don’t want to risk sleepiness driving home after a drink,” he said clicking his non-alcohol to her alcohol.

She fretted over his plans for the evening. She didn’t think he had plans to show her his feet.

Sitting at an outside table, they had shared a Caesar salad that he gallantly dished onto her plate. She move moved a toast point onto his plate after he knocked one off serving her a portion of the salad. Talk was easy and light. His feet remained tucked under the table. She sprawled on her chair. Her naked toes peeked out from under her jeans. Sandals left her feet chilly in the rapidly cooling fall air. His feet stayed under the table. She was sure they were thoughtfully arranged.

When their main course came, she had laughed with delight. Her shrimp were a fragrant pink on their woodland bed of onions, mushrooms, and grits. His tuna was seared brown with a rare red middle. She wiggled her toes in her sandals glancing over at him. He was eating away with a gusto she hoped would be available for other activities. At the dark table, their lone candle created a fuzzy halo for their meal. Arms, mouths, and faces moved towards the food and each other. The bottom halves of their bodies were quietly waiting.

They had walked back to his car, warm with food and talk, carried by their two sets of feet.
“I have something to tell you,” he said.
Looking into his serious face, she held her breath.
“I have peripheral artery disease. I don’t feel much below my knees.”
“And your feet?” she said.
“Not much feeling,” he said shaking his head. “But it has other implications in my life. I want you to understand what you might be choosing in a relationship with me,” he said.

They had stopped walking to turn towards each other. She laughed with recognition and relief. He looked hurt.

“What’s so funny?”

She smiled at him as she told him a story.“I have a friend who was a Buddhist monk. Now he sells used cars. He said, ‘After a while, all cars have issues. So I keep a mechanic on staff and don’t sweat the small stuff.’”

“Small stuff like feet?” he asked.

“Yeah,” she said.
“Do you know any mechanics?”
“No but I know someone who might,” she said laying her head on his shoulder.

They had continued their walk back to the car, fingers intertwined, and their feet in concert.
That night, with much laughter, they showed each other their boo-boos.

“I’ll rub your elegant feet,” she said.
“I’ll brush your heavy hair,” he said.

It was these acts of kindness that started their love. Some days he limps and other days she gets fixated on ideas. In this life, you never know where feet and head will take you.

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.

Tag Cloud