What's a 73-year-old woman doing scuffing around in bright red shoes? Has senility set in? Is she shopping at a second-hand shop these days? Is she going blind?
Well, none of those things, actually, but I admit that a couple of days ago, I did buy a pair of bright red shoes. You may recognize them from a TV ad full of twenty-year-old, size two young ladies skipping through a bubbling creek. And you know what? I'm really having as much fun with them as the people in the ad!
They're not stylish. If I'm honest, I have to admit that they look they're made of something close to burlap on top of a gum eraser. The only bit of leather is in the lining of the sole. They don't fit all that well -- the sides tend to gap. The toe has a shape only because of a clumsy fold to tuck in the excess burlap. There's no arch support. The one seam runs off at an angle that suggests somebody had to patch the material together to get enough for the shoe.
But they are comfortable -- sort of like bedroom slippers that don't flop off your heel when you walk. And easy to wear? Wow! It's quite possible to forget you're not in your bare feet -- until you happen to look down and see them glowing at you.
I could probably give you some fuzzy, "feel-good" reasons for buying them. They're pretty cheap, especially if you pick them up in a discount house or a military base exchange. Their manufacturer promises to give away a pair of new children's shoes for every pair that someone buys, so I helped somebody else besides myself.
But the real reason? I looked at the display in the store and realized that I had never -- not even once -- worn a pair of red shoes. The very idea was preposterous to a woman raised in the "proper 1950s" to worry about what other people would think. My mother-in-law once sent me back upstairs to get a hat and gloves -- not because it was cold, but because the two of us were going shopping and might "do lunch." I had a huge fight with my mother over whether I could have a pair of slacks when I went off to college, and that same mother-in-law was scandalized the first time I wore a pair of jeans to a baseball game.
I have a closet full of shoes these days, but they are all browns and blacks and beige and whites -- properly school-marmish. The one pair of navy heels look out of place, or they used to, until they were joined by these bright red flats. And it's about time!
Until a couple of days ago, I would have described myself as a pretty liberated woman -- smart, educated, self-supporting, active in the community. But these shoes made me take another look at how far I still have to go. So if you happen to see me scufffing along in my red shoes, feel free to smile, just as I do every time I look t my feet. I'm still growing, and at my age, that's a good thing!