I was 17 years old when I realized I had beautiful feet. I can still dress them up in lotion and nail polish. But back then they were gorgeous naked.
I was sitting in my boss’ office the day it happened. I was on a black leather loveseat, bare feet perched on a marble coffee table, awaiting my check for a night’s work. Mr Garcia had had enough of me and my friends. That afternoon we’d come to work stoned. It was a coming-out banquet for the city’s society girls, who were about our age. We spilled water on the debutantes’ satin gowns, flirted with their escorts. Took our time clearing salad plates.
Mr. Garcia scribbled out my check and thrust his arm in my direction. I was smoking a mentholated cigarette. Those days you could smoke anywhere. I leaned toward him to get the check without moving from the couch. I couldn’t reach. Get up, he said, but I sat back instead.
That’s when I noticed the arch. It peaked right below the ball of the ankle, like two points trying to touch. It was as if at that moment everyone in the room — me, Tracy, Wade, Leanne, even Mr. Garcia — saw what I saw.
They didn’t, of course. Wade took the check from Mr. Garcia and handed it to me. We slowly got our things, shuffled out the office. That was our last banquet.
Almost 30 years later, my feet still crave attention. Last summer at Mom’s annual neighborhood garage sale, I saw a pair of pearly pink cocktail de Angelos, circa 1950, in their original shoebox. I bought them for four dollars thinking I might wear them with a black vintage dress and pink pashima I’d got in India.
The shoes were missing the thin rubber cap that finishes the heel. The heels have tiny nails sticking out of them. Unwearable. I still haven’t gone to see the old shoe man near the university.
My best looking shoe is a pair of Donald Pliners. Black suede and a closed toe. A strap that crosses on a diagonal over the top of my foot and closes with a rhinestone buckle. They look vaguely like Spanish flamenco shoes. I can only wear them three hours max, two if dancing.
My feet long for a trophy shoe, like a trophy wife shows off a man’s power and money. But my bones won’t go along. Age before beauty.
Today, Dansko clogs.
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