The other day I was on one of many trips to the lower level of the building where I work. That floor is hard and smooth and showroom-shiny, unlike the quiet carpeted floors above where my office is. A woman was walking down a hall behind me and I could not help focusing on the sound her shoes were making – she had on fairly high heels, fairly dressy (yes, I call them lady shoes) – and she was at that “I have to get something done” pace.
I suddenly had a very distinct memory of my mum getting dressed to go out. She had a pair of shoes that I loved back then – I liked to wear them but they were one thing OFF the dress-up list. Red, shiny, snakeskin spike heels. Straps across the top of the foot. If she had those on, she and dad were going someplace nice. And the sound…Mum walking in those shoes was a sound that LADIES make (my mum was usually much more sensible).
I have no recollection of what she was wearing, only the shoes. Oh – those shoes. And the sound of her walking accross the kitchen into the vestibule…lady sounds. Legs with stockings sounds. Shoes-you’re-not-allowed-to-wear-until-you’re-grown-up sounds. Some kind of I’m-in-control sounds. A little bit of marching sounds. As soon as I hear heels like that….it’s a flashback.
It amazed me for a minute how that high heeled sound is so distinctive and loaded – it may mean something quite different to someone else, or it might mean nothing at all. There were platform boots that echoed in high school hallways, runners that squeeked and sneakers that…sneaked. Flip flops made that irritating sound. Kodiaks could drag and thud, but only when they weren’t tied up – then they’re quiet. High heels were something else altogether.
Maybe it’s because there was not a lot of lady shoe-wearing growing up. Not later, either – I do love lady shoes and a great heel, but I am mostly a Doc Marten person. My sister’s husband said he needed to build an addition for her shoes, and my oldest ordered a pair of terrifying 7″ heeled Union Jack boots online when she was 12…the beginning of HER shoe habit (she is equal parts Docs and too-high heels). There is some kind of fascination there to be sure. Mine is the sound, apparently.
My old lady feet don’t see lady shoes too much any more, and I think I’ve lost the ability to walk with that determined march in high heels. Hell, I probably can’t walk in them at all. I will have to be satisfied following strangers and listening to the sounds of their shoes – those heels never go out of style for long.