Oh Betsey Johnson

This weekend, I went for two long walks – and a good thing, too, because it is supposed to rain the rest of this week. On one walk, I wandered through Central Park. In the other, I ended up at DSW – a very large shoe store – because I need to replace my very practical, black, ankle-high, flat-heeled boots. They’ve reached the point where they have gone from being my most comfortable shoes to being my most uncomfortable and it’s time.

It is the wrong time of year to buy boots in NYC. The selection is picked over and tends toward rubber and hiking. I dutifully swept the aisles, wandering up and down dismissing the more rugged and rubber selections, tempted by Doc Martens which technically met the requirements but that, every time I picked them up, rejected themselves by their sheer weight.

And then I saw this.

Before I knew it, my hand had reached out and picked it up, revealing the price tag behind the display.

They cost the same as the other, more practical boots around them.

They are decidedly not practical.

They would probably not be the most comfortable boots in my closet. Or even comfortable at all.

My breath caught in my throat. My mind immediately began trying to imagine what I would wear with them. I might need to buy a whole new wardrobe. Or at least a complete outfit to complement them. And the thought of buying new clothes right now is daunting, to put it mildly. The combination of too much sheltering, too much comfort food, and the closure of most of the stores where I used to shop has reduced my wardrobe to ath-leisure even for work, which is something I will need to do something about eventually.

To try to build an outfit around these shoes in this situation… and where would I wear such a thing, since we aren’t going out and my husband would hate them and would discourage me from wearing them if we did go out to dine outdoors or something… I guess could wear them to work, a decidedly unlikely place for shoes such as these to appear.

And yet.

I put the shoe down on the display. Time had stretched itself out all in an instant like it does sometimes, collapsing and expanding simultaneously. In the instant that I had held the boot in my hand, I had journeyed through my closet, roamed the clothing stores of New York past and present, seen my husband’s face when I brought them home, worn the boots to work and braved the reactions of my conservative colleagues.

I took a step and another, again scanning for black demi-boots, flat-heeled, practical but it was hard to see them through the specter of the red boots. I found my way over to the clearance section where sometimes one finds treasures. No black demi-boots but a pair in dark green. I tried them on and they were supremely uncomfortable, tight, stiff, rigid and I moved o

Since then the red boots have been haunting my dreams. I finally gave up last night after tossing and turning over what to wear with them. With boots like that, all one can do is declare defeat and either buy a complete Betsey Johnson outfit to wear with them – and where I would find that, I don’t know since I think her shop here is closed now – or just declare how wonderfully they go with jeans and wear them with everything.

But here is the solution: I shall have to go back and try them on because they would probably be so uncomfortable that my feet would reject them outright and gone are the days when I would have bought a pair of beautiful but uncomfortable shoes just to display them in my living room as décor, as a symbol of the type of person that I wanted to be, secretly dressing up late at night and putting them on, to drink champagne, seated, legs stretched out where I could see such shoes on my feet and know that it was me wearing those shoes.

Reminding myself that I lived in New York City, the greatest city in the world, where one could find the ruby slippers and wear them on the street with jeans and people might think they were fierce. And not say to you, as people in the town where I went to high school used to sneer at me with scorn when I thought I was looking my best, Punk Rocker or I think your earrings are gross or Are you wearing makeup? To a picnic?

To which I replied in my head, I think you are gross and should try wearing a little makeup just for fun and weird earrings and maybe dye your hair a color not known in nature.

Or own a pair of rhinestone boots, just once in your life.

And maybe live a little again.

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