Thursday, November 6, 2014

A Woman's Right to Shoes: Save the Rockstuds

Its shrill met me mid-stream as the conditioner began to slide from each coated strand of hair.

Evacuations, after all, are rarely moments of convenience.

After wrapping myself in a starchy hotel robe and grabbing my bag, I joined my friend Mary as we hurried down the stairwell of the Pier 2620 Hotel.  Sirens drilled through the hovering fog and the uncaffeinated gait of a San Francisco morning.

"What is going on?" Mary asked, our hotel not exactly ablaze.

"Smoke in the kitchen," barked a bellhop.  "Somebody probably burned toast."

I looked down at the drippy trail of conditioner that collected at my bare feet as I rummaged through my bag for the phone.  This was one of those stories.

Despite the flimsy robe that blanketed my body, I couldn't help but feel most vulnerable from the ankle down.  In the way that lifelong friends feed symbiotically off the unsaid, Mary looked down at my whitening toes.

"Wait!!" she exclaimed.

I knew exactly what she was thinking.

"I left my Rockstuds in the room."

I was thinking the same thing.

"Is it psychotic for us to run back and save the Rockstuds?  I mean, it's only burnt toast..."

In that moment, I don't know if my relief resided in the cessation of the smoke alarm, the filing of hotel guests back to their unmade beds or the reciprocal understanding of an omnipresent shoe jones.

Of course we would never risk our lives for shoes.
But the thought flitted through our irrational minds.

Valentino Rockstud pumps and
Manolo Blahnik fuchsia metallic pumps
Maybe it is because of thirteen years of regulation oxblood loafers and stiff pleated skirts for Catholic School, but there is something magical about slipping on a pair of beautiful shoes. Whether they are strappy, beribboned, wedged, platformed, embellished, pointy-toe or stacked, shoes are my reclamation of a lost little girl who was forced to smuggle her own femininity in an evacuation from a soul-crushing patriarchy.

Shoes, in essence, have become a celebration of that found little girl and the way she learned how to walk on the roads that she couldn't always choose.

Whatever the reason behind the high-heel allure, many shoe aficionados share a collective Save the Rockstuds ethos which guides the everyday spirit.

For some of us, our right to shoes is constituted by the following:

1.  The word "Tribute" is spelled YSL.

2.  We buy the shoes first, the dress second. Always.

3.  A hastily-nicked pedicure in a peep-toe pump can ruin our entire night.

4.  We show up in espadrilles to go on outdoorsy excursions and farm field trips.

5.  We pack seven pairs of shoes for an overnight stay. And probably wear five.

6.  We prepare for "super"storms by moving our shoes to higher ground.  Then we tape the windows.

7.  We skip the Louvre to find one-of-a-kind shoe boutiques.

8.  If we win a gift card or cash prize at an event, we spend it on Piperlime before we give the valet our tickets.

9.  We consider "wear sneakers to work day" a punishment.

10.  We give a legitimate stink eye to anyone in a shoe department who asks, "But where would you wear those?"  And then respond, "Where wouldn't I?"

When Mary and I made it back to our room, we checked to see if her fuchsia Valentino Rockstuds were nestled in the closet.

"What shoes are you wearing to the book reading?"

In just a few hours, I would be reading a piece about that lost little girl to a group of strangers for the first time.

Responding to the anxious look on my face, she just knew what I was thinking.

"I want you to wear my Rockstuds."

And on that night, it was the Rockstuds that saved me.


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