There’s something about a pair of red shoes. Heels. The right pair sends a message. I’m not scared of being seen. I am alive. Sometimes, I actually have sex.
I have the perfect pair. I fell in love with them in 2008 when I bought them. I wore them exactly once: on November 28, 2008, I slipped them on, shimmied into a new BCBG dress, and floated through my rehearsal dinner on a cloud of love, wonder, and first-trimester pregnancy hormones.
Seven months later I became a mother, and I lost track of my red shoes. What do I need with shoes like that anyway? Sure they were versatile, but they wouldn’t work at the park or Gymboree.
Eventually, another member of my household co-opted them, crystallizing my feeling that they were no longer “me.”
One day I’ll get back to those I promised myself. One day I’ll be a woman who wears red heels.
But there was always a reason to shove them to the back of the closet and find a nice staid pair of black shoes. Something stylish, but infinitely more sensible in case there was ice or gravel or the need to break into a full-speed sprint. It’s Chicago, so you never know.
I always knew they were there, though. They emitted a secret heat, radiating from the back of my closet. As I sifted through my clothes, I’d sometimes catch a glimpse of their satiny sheen. What are you waiting for? they questioned.
But the time was never right. I wanted to wait– until I found the perfect jeans or had a fancy wedding to go to or my bangs grew out or we solved global warming. I was waiting for my weight to fall, my fortunes to rise and the weather to turn.
But the longer I waited for my Gap “loungewear” to make me feel that certain sparkly specialness, the farther away I felt. I had bought a one-way ticket to frumpdom and couldn’t seem to escape.
What’s it gonna take? I wondered.
My mind alighted on those shoes. Maybe on Saturday night for Jeff’s birthday dinner. No! Immediately, a series excuses flashed through my mind.
You need a pedicure.
It’s too cold.
The restaurant is too casual.
You’re too old.
You’ll look like a character from Mama’s Family– that white trash Naomi.
I let each excuse make a case for “NO” but slipped my feet in anyway. I ignored my raggedy toe nails and pretended my jeans were the perfect length for 3-inch heels.
I made it down the flight of stairs where Jeff was waiting for me. As we strolled to the restaurant hand-in-hand, I ignored the fact that we would have dinner while the sun was still up and we’d be back in time to put our kids to bed.
This counted as a night on the town, and I was wearing my red shoes. The wait was over.