The executive assistant explained she was planning a birthday party for her boss. Navigating broken English we understood they wanted Canadian food, only the best for a party in two days. Lack of common language didn’t hinder our ability to put on a splendid party. Not surprisingly, executive assistant’s “best” involved champagne fountains, expensive scotch, and dazzling floral festooned archways dotted with twinkling lights.. Never one to judge, we pulled out the stops to make boss one of the weirdest birthday/wedding/ sweet sixteen/ 70’s disco parties I’ve laid eyes on.
Our client said everything was perfect – exactly as she imagined. As guests started to arrive it became apparent female guests fell into two distinctly different camps. The ball gown and tiara set, mingled with barely covering your panties in skin tight Lycra dresses teetering on 4 inch heels crowd. Oddly age wasn’t a factor, nor did it seem to make the slightest difference – I suppose dress code was “optional”
After dinner attention turned to the stage for speeches and video montage of boss man’s life. We found the pictures helpful, managing to piece together boss man’s rise to glory in the real estate market, despite absence of our mother tongue. Formalities over it was time for Karaoke.
As I stood next to the stage, a Lycra clad woman approached saying “help” -one of the few English words she spoke. It didn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure out her problem. Blind sided by her period, every square inch from the edge of her skimpy garment to the top of her rhinestone heels demanded immediate attention. I led her out the back door, leaving her hunched over in the back of our van as I went to find a feminine product. No luck – the best I could do was a pitcher of warm water and two clean bar rags – one to wash up with, the other to stuff in her underwear. Her motioning for me to do the washing was met with a firm “oh, hell no”. She shrugged, washed herself, and put the bar rag in her panties.
Suddenly overcome with a sense of urgency she left the van, making a B-line for the stage. I’d missed them calling her name, I didn’t miss her perfect rendition of Lady Gaga’s I Was Born This Way.
Just another day at the office – it helps if you love your job.
I never liked my feet. My mother used to tell people that when I was little, my footprints in the sand; looked like a duck had waddled by. My foot shame grew as I did; shapely legs, slender ankles came to a grinding halt at the abomination called my feet. Nothing dainty about them. Size 9, just about as wide, and the ultimate cruelty; a second toe longer than the first.
Growing up on a farm didn’t help the situation much. As soon as school ended for the summer break, the shoes came off. We called them our “summer feet”; they were impervious to pain. My siblings and I put a lot of effort into this pursuit. For the first week of vacation we hobbled about gingerly – hot pavement, gravel, brambles – miraculously each of us declared the arrival of our leather feet. We became unstoppable; we ran like the wind, oblivious to all but the sharpest misplaced nail.
Old people’s feet horrified me. Nails so thick and curled it would take a saw to cut them, toes bent and misshapen, callouses glistening with a sickly yellow hue, veins swollen by time. I stared in astonishment wondering how some of these people found the courage to don sandals. Sure it was hot; but think of the children. These props belonged in a horror movie.
I buried my feet in the sand, suffered in shoes half a size too small, and sadly said goodbye to summer feet. I missed those summer feet most of all. My head sternly told my heart I could avoid making a bad situation worse by letting them go. It got easier once I moved to the city; before long I was doing the ouch ouch dance on hot sand just like every other city dweller.
As time passed it started to matter less and less. I found myself looking at feet with interest rather than repulsion. Feet told me a lot about the person, they posed questions, were a window into lives. I painted my toe nails, let my feet touch grass, and swear I’ve tasted summer feet once or twice. The other day my daughter said – holy crap, look at your feet. Hardly even curling my toes I smiled inside, knowing she’d figure it out someday. Once you find beauty in feet, your eyes are open to beauty in the most unexpected of places.
Uggs are a sheepskin boot from Australia. Void of shape or style, somehow they managed to adorn the feet of half the women I passed. More accurately; young women, the Lululemon yoga pants set. It didn’t stop there – Uggs supported skirts, leggings, skinny jeans; outfits were built around the ugliest boot imaginable.
I scoffed at Uggs, they were my socks with sandals. My daughter and I joked about “Uggfits”
When my husband announced he wanted to buy Uggs for my birthday, I thought he was joking. Not wanting to hurt his feelings I managed a weak smile. In my heart certain I could wiggle out of it, I played along. He asked me to meet him down town today; with Uggly dread I agreed.
The first store we went to didn’t have my size. Better yet – we now knew they were priced at $200. Things were looking up – fate might just take care of things. We tried again, this time a department store with an extensive Ugg display. Struggling with myself for not speaking up I weakly asked the sales clerk for my size. She was rather odd and cranky, we waited and waited. Five minutes passed, then ten. She emerged from the back room to tell me she couldn’t remember the size I had asked for. Yikes. The situation was becoming surreal, I took dishevelled and forgetful clerk as an omen that Uggs were not going to be. By now I had plenty of alternatives in mind; my smile was genuine.
Without warning my world came crashing down; she approached us with three shoe boxes. Resigned to my Ugg fate I sat down and pulled one on. Before even standing up, I was converted. My foot nestled in a warm embrace; hurriedly I pulled on the other and took my first steps. I was walking on fairy dust, pillows of magic, with music greeting every step. That was 12 hours ago. My closet lies on the floor as I plan my “Uggfits”. In hindsight my husband knows me best, I wouldn’t have been married for over 30 years if he hadn’t been able to see through my Uggsgust . I may just sleep in them.