Friday, 18 September 2009

The Case for Potato Shoes

Are English soles really tottering on the brink of destruction? The state of British women's footwear is making the news here lately:

In essence, a trade organization suggested women's high heels as part of mandated corporate uniforms be banned due to the fiascos they cause among feet. I could have predicted this sentiment would have gone over like a pair of velcro-fastened Soft Spots.

Fashionable footwear is a must among some sets in England, while "comfortable shoes" carry the day amongst older pedestrians. Lucky for me, I am firmly in the camp of potato shoes due to an old foot injury, incurred while wearing Dr. Scholl's heels, no less! A friend of mine criticized my shoe wardrobe as resembling a group of root vegetables, and still occasionally reminds me of the pitfalls of potato shoes. Her worries are in vain, though. I've gone to Clarks, Ecco, and New Balance, and I won't be turning back. My feet stick out as well as my accent, but my bunions aren't burning. And my permanently bipartite sesamoid bone thanks me daily.

Chumly, by my count, owns almost as many pairs of shoes as I do. I attribute this to his youthful vocation as a shoe shop clerk, working as a shoe dog for a man named Mr. Cheeseman. Not only has his love of cheese followed him into adulthood, but he does seem to amass footwear. He's quite handy to take shoe shopping, in fact - he's fully capable of suggesting sizing and fit, just like back in his salad days. As prior readers may have gathered, Chumly is terribly helpful, if not sarcastic. I suppose I shouldn't chuck stones in the little glass house I live in, however.

I get the impression that dealing with British women in search of fashionable footwear wasn't among his favorite passtimes. A window shop in the women't fashion section reveals many, many va-voom offerings in purple patent, and an abundance of ankle boots with spikey heels. England is a very pedestrianized country, and I've marveled at the young women out for a drink on city streets lined with cobbles, precariously teetering on 3 plus inch heels and in skirts that look more like extremely abbreviated sausage casings. In fact, we were out one evening, switching watering venues in a medieval town, when a Brit male suddenly checked that all the ladies had on footwear that would make the journey. How considerate. But, no worries. There I was in my Born mary janes. Hello, tater tots. I thought this country liked potatoes. Just not in their footwear.

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