Dec ’02 BigCityLit
A Holiday Gift From Your Sole
by Linda Sands
Ask any woman. Shoes are more than mere footwear. They are an expression of love, of want, of desire. They can tell you more about a person’s inner life than any other article of clothing on her body. A good shoe can make your day, get you the job, win you a spouse. Yes, the shoe is more than elemental protection, it is karmic destiny. The soul of my sole will not be denied. Which is why I just had to have one more pair of boots this season—in tan suede, with fringes and sparkly studs. Hey there, cowboy.
I wasn’t supposed to be Christmas shopping for myself. There was a list in my purse for friends, family and colleagues that I had been dutifully checking off for weeks, but sometimes, you just know it when you see it. A quick glance, followed by the slow turn, a gentle caress, a second perusal—then you slip it on and you know you won’t go home without it. It’s the beginning of a lasting affair. You pledge to honor the shoe’s season, bear with blisters or corns, in good weather or bad; you will wear that shoe till leather do you part.
Women wear shoes like men wear cars. The shoe is a substitute for the penisof the man a woman has just met or would like to meet. That’s right, a virtual schlong for your tootsy, a one-eyed snake pump, a Johnson for your Murphy, a phallic symbol of the automotive variety, and like its counterpart—it can need expert custom repairs. Unlike penis envy, though, shoe envy is public: There is a great deal of unabashed pointing, stroking, oohing and ahhing, followed by the inevitable, “Where did you get those shoes?”
I’m convinced many shoe styles were named after someone’s ex-love object. Think about it. There are pumps, loafers, mules and clogs; moccasins, oxfords, slip-ons and kilties. Ever dated a jogger? Dumped a wedge? Been seduced by a slingback? Felled by a Birkenstock? Discovered to your grand disappointment that your monk-strap was really a Mary Jane? Those names are not coincidental.
Then there are boots. Sometimes necessary for career or weather, sometimes just to make it look like you mean business. Usually classified by height—ankle, mid-calf, thigh-high—or by the way you get into them: zip-up, pull-on, lace-up. They get their names from what you do in them: combat, hiking, English riding, construction, motorcycle, logger, cowboy. Frankly, that list sounds like a really rough date month. And what on earth is ‘urban sport,’ anyway?
Manufacturers know women seek an alter ego affair from their footwear. Slide into a shoe named Via Spaga, Luigi Parone, or Franco Sarto and you’ll feel immediately transported to lubricious Italy, complete with vino rosso and sloe-eyed gondolier. Show your wild side with shoes from Volatile, Grip, Bastad or Turtle Fur. Join the in-crowd—if you can afford to—with Manolo Blahnik, Edmundo Castillo, Siegerson Morrison, and Kenneth Cole. Or just have fun saying your shoes are by Naked Feet, Mootsie Tootsies, Rocket Dog or—for the wholesome—Okidoke.
Using the internet, shoe shopping has never been easier. Why deal with parking hassles, or inept salesclerks who sneak bites of onion-laced tuna sandwiches while searching tiny backrooms, when you can enjoy unlimited choices and sizes from the bunny-slippered comfort of your own home? You don’t even need to be dressed. Try a little Peg Bundy sexy at fredericks.com, or flaunt your individuality with custom designs at customatix.com. Play witch, gothic freak or hooker at extremecostumes.com. And if you’re one of those concerned about offending a calf, elk, snake or crocodile, buy vegetarian at zappos.com.
Advertisers this holiday season are alert to the female shoe gene. One touts the advantages of shoe shopping as therapy. Another asks, “Don’t you just love surprises?” and my favorite claims, “You can’t ever have enough!” (Apparently, they’ve never phone-surveyed my husband.)
As much as I love shoe shopping, I can’t imagine buying a gift of shoes for my friends. It would be like dating someone’s boyfriend and then declaring he is perfect—for her. But I do see great possibilities in a shoe warehouse gift certificate. There is something absolutely erotic about all those long, neat rows and the smell of new leather. If they softened the lighting, mirrored the ceilings, and hired a few Chippendales to stock shelves, well, I would definitely need a larger closet.
So, whether you are looking for the perfect addition to your holiday outfit—or for the final flourish of surrender when the holiday outfit lies crumpled and forgotten on your new lover’s fireside rug—be assured there is a shoe out there for you. It might be a funky bowling shoe, a tall black sock boot, or fancy shoes so bejeweled and sparkly, you run around town looking for the perfect dress to complement them.
However you choose to decorate your feet this holiday season, be assured, someone will notice. And while friends, family and colleagues are pointing and oohing and aahing, remember, if the shoe really is a substitute for the penis, don’t you deserve the best? After all, you never need the shoes. You simply want them.