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The Cruel Shoes

On a shelf among the other cheap shoes they sat, deceptively innocent and demure. There they were, thought I, the simple ballet-style flats that I had been looking for amid the fashionable avalanche of twelve-inch wedgies and spike-heeled backless mules. I am a person who likes her shoes to be understated, to in fact be almost invisible, with the only statement they could be said to be making to be that comfort doesn't mean you have to look like you cut off the bottom parts of an Apollo-era spacesuit and stuffed your feet into them. These shoes seemed to fit the criteria. They even seemed to be made of suede -- though the label said "all man-made materials," which should have been a warning sign. But they were only ten dollars, so I bought them.

I put them on this morning. On the way to the bus stop, their stiffness was annoying, but I put it off to their being new. At least they weren't so stiff that they flapped off my heel like two wooden boards, which has happened with other shoes.

Did I forget to add that I have narrow heels, very high arches -- the tops of my feet look like a pair of Roman noses -- and gigantic (in proportion to my other ones) big toes? This makes the fitting of shoes problematic -- when they fit my heel, they tend to be too small in the toes; when my toes have wiggle room, the back of the shoe flops around loosely. This is one of the many reasons I haven't been able to find a proper set of flats.

Anyway, back to shoe horror: by the end of the day my toes felt like they were being crushed in a vise; the shoes were made in China, apparently as a new kind of foot-binding technique. There was absolutely -- zero, none -- no cushioning in the sole; walking barefoot would have actually been more comfortable. Alas, that sort of thing is frowned upon at my office, so I had to hobble about all day in increasing "discomfort." At the end of the day I had hacked holes through the things, in an unsuccessful attempt to give my gigantic mutant (and now swollen and bruised) toes some freedom, and I wanted to hack off my own feet as well. When I made it to the mall via my first bus the first thing I did was go into Sears and spend fifty bucks I really couldn't afford (though the alternative being permanent crippling I figure it's money well spent) on some "comfort"-style leather sandals with cushioned soles. The moment I put them on I felt about ninety percent better. I wore the sandals out of the store after telling the saleslady to go ahead and throw the Chinese torture devices into the trash.

Don't buy cheap shoes.

Comments (3)

prairiecat [TypeKey Profile Page]:

I have what my Norwegian grandmother kindly referred to as "peasant feet." Very flat. Wide at the front, narrow heal. With spurs & a miserable high instep. My sister has 8 extra bones in each foot. We have arthritis in our toes. Wearing the wrong shoe really is torture in our family, too. The value of good shoes goes WAY beyond money.

Maybe we can consider the cost as a Mental Health investment, cuz bad shoes tend to make me crazy...

marc [TypeKey Profile Page]:

When I win that $30 million lottery, one of the two major personal indulgences is going to be custom-made shoes. Are there really people out there for whom the standardized manufactured shoes really fit?

cardeblu [TypeKey Profile Page]:

I can wear most standardized shoes, but there is just enough difference in the size of my feet that it makes it kind of tricky (right a little bit bigger than left). It all depends on the style of shoe, too, as I can wear anything from a 7 to a 9 with the widths varying for each.

I'm definitely not a shoe hound, as I usually just wear sneakers when out or slippers around the house and working, with only a couple pairs of dress shoes and sandals.

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