We were a pair; twins, actually; mirror twins. Elegant, black, sleek and with a touch of gold at the toe that showed off her pert, perfectly lacquered toes. The feature of which she was most fond: our four-inch stiletto heels.
For her, it had been love at first sight. A student, on a meagre allowance, she had to buy them – on tick. In those days, there was no application form, no credit check: just an address – a street address – her parents’. No phone number was needed, let alone a mobile number or email address. They’d not been contemplated – that she knew about – then.
Four-inch, leather stiletto heels don’t make for sensible wearing on a campus with steep hills and a gazillion steps, in the days when not only did very few students have cars, but first years were allowed cars only with permission. Consequently, it was Shanks’s Pony for traversing the campus from one side to the other several-times-a-day. We did, however, shoe our way into parties, balls and the rare formal occasion and photo opportunities. Like this one.
Then there were the formal photo shoots that drove everyone a bit dilly…
At university, balls were a regular feature of the annual calendar. Glamorous gowns and elegant shoes went without saying. We danced all night which meant happy, achy feet the next day. She’ll tell you a story of one particular night when they formed a chorus line, and a vigorous washing of the dirt on her instep turned out to be a bruise …
Student life gave way to working life, but the dress code for her first job was not much different from university days and we retained our role as party and formal attire. In that first year, we only hit the deck once – for a wedding. We were relegated to the back and very bottom of the wardrobe. We lived in constant envy of the white Brazillian sandals and the perfect pink Hush Puppy pumps.
She needed to wear us more often.
Eventually she did. Her next job had a very formal dress code: skirts, stockings and heels. No trousers or slax. We kid you not. We were in our element! Oh boy, we hit the Johannesburg pavements – supposedly paved with gold – in a big way.
We often had to hurry her to the bus when she was late. We partied less, worked harder and watched how she came to terms with working in the male-dominated mining industry; she was oblivious of the fact that we not just lengthened her then slim legs, but made the slit in her long black pencil skirt seem as though it reached all the way up … her thigh …
The dancing didn’t stop – she’s never stopped dancing – but times had changed and her dancing shoes became more comfortable and less elegant. The Brazillian sandals and the bright pink pumps danced more than we did, but they didn’t get to the formal functions that we revelled in. We got to mix in circles she never imagined in her student days and in gowns as elegant.
She’d also found the perfect accessories for her shoes – a couple of little black numbers. Our favourite: a versatile silk with a subtle African design in gold print around the mid-calf hem. We worked well together and made her the belle of several balls. Alas, there is no photograph of that ensemble.
Then her life took a turn. She fled the big city and followed her heart; again we were consigned to the bottom of the heep, only to be dredged out on high days and holidays.
All told, she walked and danced us around for more than twenty years: we graced the boards in seven Johannesburg abodes, one in Queenstown, five in Cape Town and, somehow, we just didn’t get to McGregor. By then, we all recognised that our time together was done. We were no longer compatible and our love affair came to a sad, but necessary end: peep toes, delicate leather and four-inch heels are no match for gravel roads, no pavements, dust and mud.
Foot attire is much more practical and, we’re lead to believe that her new favourite black shoes are agricultural ankle boots!
With no ill feeling, we bade her farewell, giving way to Fit Flops, spotty socks and Sketchers. Happily, she sill has her lovely lacquered red toes that still tap to any beat.
Oh, and we’re told that she and The Husband are often first on the dance floor, and last to leave it. Some things don’t change.
I unashamedly love shoes. It is true that there comes a time when a girl can have too many, and that’s what’s happened to me. Sadly. I can still spend hours and hours in a shoe shop looking at beautiful shoes dreaming of when and where I might wear them. The daydreams leave with me, but the shoes stay on the shelf. Today’s shoe fashions are probably one of the few reasons I lament the loss of youth: in my day, shoes were, by comparison, rather dowdy and plain except for the odd button, bow or touch of gold. How I long for a time I could get away with wearing something like this….
Consequently, when fellow Steemian and Powerhouse Creatives @zord189’s weekly contest was about shoes, I couldn’t resist. I really did love those black stilettoes, and for all the gnashing of teeth about the dowdiness of the shoe fashion of my youth, they stood me in good stead for a very long time.
Until next time
The Sandbag House
McGregor, South Africa
Feature image: Ava Sol
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