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Walking Tall

19 comments | April 3rd, 2012

(story by Mir, from WouldaCouldaShoulda)

It finally happened, and I have to tell you… I'm not usually all that sentimental, but it got to me. Not even when it was happening, but later.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me start over.

Yesterday I took my daughter to Goodwill with me. I've been a dedicated thrifter since high school, which is a fancy way of saying "I'm cheap and I don't mind buying used." It's only recently that my teenage daughter put two and two together and realized that the chances of me saying "yes" to a purchase at a thrift store are astronomically higher than if we're at, say, the mall. (This is a no-brainer to me. A t-shirt for $2? Sure. The same t-shirt for $35? Uh, no.) So nowadays if I say I'm going to the thrift store, she's eager to join me.

As it happens, I was looking for shorts for my son. And as it often happens when it comes to thrifting, the thing I needed that day was in short supply. It seemed silly to leave five minutes after I discovered someone had apparently bought all the boys' shorts, so we wandered around for a bit. My daughter reminded me that she needs a pair of nice flats (she has outgrown her last pair, and even outgrown borrowing mine), so we headed over to the shoes.

Shoes are my least favorite thing to shop for, used. I don't want to wear someone else's grungy shoes, and it's not like you can throw them in the washer the way you can clothing. Still, sometimes you get lucky and find what are essentially brand new offerings that have been discarded by their original owners. As I scanned the racks, my eyes landed on a cute pair of black flats that looked about the right size for her. "How about these?" I asked, pulling them down. Of course, as soon as I did so, I discovered they weren't flats at all, but pumps. "Oh, never mind," I said. "I didn't realize they were heels."

"They're kinda cute," my daughter said, which surprised the heck out of me. She's a very no-nonsense kid, and never misses an opportunity to tell me that I wear "ridiculous" shoes when I dress up. She took one from me and looked it over. "What size are they?"

I turned over the one I still held, looking for the size marking, and discovered both that they were the correct size and that they were a fancy brand. Like, $150 fancy. And also brand new. And $6. The savings went to my head—I told her to go ahead and try them on.

They fit perfectly, and she wobbled her way around me in a small circle. "I think I might break my neck in these," she giggled.

"They're not that high," I said. "And you'll get used to them." She took a few more steps. "They're really nice shoes, and you'll need them for high school next year. If they're comfortable we should get them."

She smiled. "They're not nearly as uncomfortable as I thought they'd be. They're nice, actually. I think I'd like them."

So we bought them.

On the way home, I told her the story of my first pair of heels: For my Bat Mitzvah, my mother bought me two pairs of heels (and really, they were barely heels). The first pair, I wore to Temple for the actual event, including carrying the heavy Torah around the synagogue, which had a rather slippery floor. I spent the entire walk around the congregation silently praying I wouldn't stumble. The second pair, I wore for the big party that night, along with a floor-length dress. Halfway through the evening I managed to hook the heel of one of my shoes into my dress hem, resulting in an emergency wardrobe repair in the bathroom with a few safety pins. I'd been just a year younger than my daughter is now, and I remember thinking that those two pairs of shoes, much more than the "becoming a woman in the eyes of the community" events of that weekend, were what made me feel grown-up.

My girl chuckled at my story, and said she'd make sure she practiced wearing her new shoes before she wore them out of the house. Which, I guess, explains why she proceeded to put them on at home and wear them through dinner that night.

I was fine with it all—I really was—right up until she was helping me in the kitchen, and I realized that she was no longer wobbling. Not only that, while I was barefoot and she was wearing the shoes, she was now taller than me.

That's when I had to take a couple of deep breaths and get ahold of myself before I burst out into a chorus of "Sunrise, Sunset." Honestly, who told this child she could go turning into a bona fide woman? At least she's one with excellent taste in shoes.

Do you remember your first pair of heels? Is there something like this for boys/men, or is this a "special" thing just for us ladies, like bras and tampons (we apparently have all the luck)?

(Get more Mir here)

 

19 comments

  • Midj

    Posted on April 3, 2012

    New school shoes for 7th grade. *And* we had just moved to Florida and I was the new kid (again, my father had just retired from the military). They made me feel grown-up and pretty and slightly cool. I was less scared when I wore them. I think the fact that they had chunky, 70’s heels helped. And the fact that I was now 5’3″ instead of 5′ nothing. After years of wearing heels for work, I’m happy to be barefoot or in flats most of the time, but I still feel pretty, grown-up and slightly cool when I put on a pair of heels…

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  • Tenessa

    Posted on April 3, 2012

    Ha! That type of milestone also came with leg shaving and mascara. I was thirteen and I was allowed to buy heels for the first time. They were kitten sized, but I thought I was all grown up wearing them. My mom also suggested that I might need to start shaving my legs, if I so chose, and I most certainly did! Also, if I wanted I could wear mascara to school. I was overwhelmed with the enormity of these three occurrences!

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  • amy

    Posted on April 3, 2012

    For me with my daughter, it wasn’t so much a pair of shoes, but when I turned and watched her reach to get something off the TOP of the cupboards, tears welled up. She has now handed down tops and bras to me. She’s bigger than me, and she’s only 13 years old! LOL!

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  • Sheila

    Posted on April 3, 2012

    Universes criss-crossing, again. My oldest (who turns 14 a few days before Chickadee), has ALSO just acquired her first new pair of heels, ALSO thrifted, and she wobbled around the house in them all day Saturday. They are silver and strappy and she feels like a million bucks in them. I should probably tell her about my first high heels, which had to be repaired MacGyver-style, with a stapler, while on an eighth-grade field trip AFTER she returns from her eighth-grade class trip to Washington, D.C.

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  • Jeanmarie

    Posted on April 3, 2012

    Aaaah, Mir – again we share milestones – Emme had her ears pierced directly after her last cheer competition this weekend – I can remember holding her in the pediatrician’s office, only a few weeks old, when I told the Dr. that it is a family tradition in my home to wait until 13 for ear piercing, as opposed to the “at birth” option many Italian families choose. Thirteen seemed a hundred years away, yet here it is…
    She actually had the nerve to ask for Laboutin’s for Christmas!

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  • Jeanmarie

    Posted on April 3, 2012

    My first high heels were from National Shoes at Kings Plaza Mall in Brooklyn – they were a style called “buffaloes” – a natural colored leather wedge with an X in the ft and a wedge heel. My mother adamantly refused to buy them and I had my very first “hissy fit” in public. She finally gave in, stating “If you break your ankle, don’t come crawling to me” :-)
    She beat the crap out of me with said shoe one year later when I got caught smoking in the bathroom :-)

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    • Mir

      Posted on April 3, 2012

      Your mother beat you with a shoe? That somehow seems a larger milestone…. (Note to self: Tell kid that if I catch her smoking, I’ll beat her with her new beloved shoes.)

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  • Katie in MA

    Posted on April 3, 2012

    The Converse sneaks Gracie is begging for for her birthday are starting to sound better and better. I’m not ready for my baby to grow up! But I guess she will, soon enough. I think Chickie was turning 8 when I started reading – you know, about two minutes ago. :)

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  • Victoria

    Posted on April 3, 2012

    My daughter shares my love of a good thrift hunt too!
    (Question…..the last 3 times I’ve read ”Off our chests” there is a ‘patch’ of information hiding the lower left end of the article. I know it should be child’s play to get rid of it but I can’t seem to…)

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  • ScottsdaleGirl

    Posted on April 3, 2012

    I remember that my first pair of heels was a chunky brown strappy thing, but it was that sound they made when you walked. Ahhhh that sound made it for me. Click Click Click…

    These days I rarely wear heels because, well I don’t HAVE to.

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  • Chuck

    Posted on April 3, 2012

    I can’t think of any similar kind of thing for boys, except maybe the first time you wear a tie? I dunno. I do remember as far as shoes go, once when my sister was 14 and I was 5, she borrowed my sneakers and they fit her perfectly. I always thought that was funny. But finding shoes for my full grown feet is a challenge – although the internet has made it easier.

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  • jadine

    Posted on April 3, 2012

    My first pair of heels were worn at my middle school graduation (9th grade in Canada, so I was 14). My mother, who only wore navy blue and beige, finally caved and bought me a pink dress to wear for the occasion. I loved it, and chose strappy heels to match. My mom actually, didn’t want to buy me any shoes with a heel, but she caved. Anyway, I had to walk to the school for the dance (about 2 miles), and the beautiful shoes killed my feet. It was awful. But they sure were pretty. I never wore them again, but I remember exactly what they looked like. Sigh. Now I wear ugly mom shoes. You know? I really should change that.

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  • Liza

    Posted on April 4, 2012

    8th grade. For both Confirmation and Middle School Graduation, events that took place roughly 6-8 weeks apart. They were brown, woven leather, sandals, with a roughly 1 1/4 or 1 1/2 inch heal. I loved them. And they made me feel Oh So Grown Up.

    Today I am wearing my most favorite shoes ever. They are black and pink Fluevog wingtips with heavy duty, skid-proof soles and half an inch of heel. Well, an inch if you count the thickness of the rest of the sole.

    I like traditionally girly shoes too, but these are my favorites.

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  • Rosemary

    Posted on April 4, 2012

    This is one of the few things where apparently my mom let me do something earlier than other girls for once! I was in fourth grade, and my mom pulled me out of school for the afternoon so we could go shoe shopping. I can’t even remember what I needed them for, but we went to a dance store and bought a pair of tap shoes (sans taps) so that I would have something with a strap. I remember practicing walking in them up and down the stairs… so exciting!

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  • Leanne

    Posted on April 4, 2012

    Jr. High graduation, and I remember like it was yesterday. It was quite a challenge to find appropriate grown-up shoes as I barely wore a women’s size 4. They were buff color leather wedges with almost the same color rubber on the bottom as the leather. I have no idea why I wore buff/nude colored shoes with a white dress, probably something to do with extremely limited selection. But I loved those shoes and what they represented. I think I was in college when I finally stopped wearing them and tossed them out, Just couldn’t justify their fashionlessness any more, even to myself.

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  • Brigid

    Posted on April 13, 2012

    I took my 7 YO sandal shopping since spring came early and she outgrows shoes twice a season, let alone from one season to the next. We headed back to the children’s section as usual and she chose a pair of sparkly silver sandals. I got the size 6 off the shelf and we tried to cram her foot into it until we both realized there was no way it was going to fit. I went back to get the next larger size, but there was no larger size. Which meant my second grader and I had to go to the women’s section. She ended up with flat silver sandals in a size 8. MY SECOND GRADER IS WEARING A WOMEN’S SIZE 8. Sorry, didn’t mean to yell there, but jeesh, I wasn’t quite prepared for that.

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