By Hannah Berman


Many years ago, when I would buy dress shoes, the only thought I gave to the height of the heel was that nothing shorter than three inches would be acceptable. Three inches was the minimum height, but a four- or five-inch heel was preferable. Additionally, the heels had to be very thin. Anything else was unacceptable for dresswear. In those early years, walking on my toes, or on the balls of my feet, which is essentially what one does when wearing very high heels, was not a problem.

Back then, many women walked around in gorgeous shoes despite the fact that it made their feet ache. While some managed to last an entire evening, others did not. The latter group consisted of females who removed their shoes as soon as they sat down and then proceeded to keep their feet well-hidden, under the table, until it was time to stand up again. The former were the gals who removed their shoes as soon as they got into their cars and headed for home. Taking off the heels relieved the foot and toe cramping that women subjected themselves to.

One wonders why so many of us did that. We did it because fashion dictated that we do. Even as we suffered, we turned our young noses up at “clunky” heels. Clunky heels were how we referred to one- or two-inch heels that were neither slender nor sculpted but wide and boxy. None of us ever imagined that one day we, too, would join the ranks of those needing to wear clunky heels, and, in our arrogance, we silently scoffed at those who did. But as we got older it became increasingly more painful to wear those thin, sky-high heels. When it became totally intolerable, we succumbed and finally put comfort before fashion.

Mea culpa! I am a former scoffer; I walked around in painfully high heels and then soaked my feet in warm water as soon as I got home. My late husband, Arnie, a.k.a. Hubby, questioned my sanity. He would ask me why anyone in her right mind would put on shoes that pinch and squeeze her toes and then wear them for several hours. My answer was always the same: “You wouldn’t understand.” His answer to that was also always the same: “You’re right; I don’t understand.”

The conversation, if one could call it that, ended there!

Sadly, to my eternal heartbreak, Hubby is no longer here to have that conversation, or any other conversation, with me. I hope he can see me, because if he can, then he knows I have matured. In short, I have aged to the point that I no longer choose to wear what he used to call “killer shoes.” Some years ago, I succumbed to a modicum of sensibility and graduated to wearing shoes with short, clunky heels. They don’t look any better to me now than they did years earlier, but at least my feet are enveloped in comfort and can breathe!

Unfortunately, right now I am back to my old habit of putting fashion before comfort. Surely, Hubby must be shaking his head and wondering why I have regressed. Less than a month from now, one of my beloved granddaughters will be getting married, and the thought of wearing clunky heels is once again intolerable. As I was still in sensible mode at the time, I did wear clunky heels at the weddings of two of my other grandchildren, but I have decided not to do that this time around.

Recently, I purchased sparkly, sling-back, three-inch sculpted heels with a pointed toe that is nothing short of a killer. I am able to stand in these shoes, but walking is a different story, so I now have my work cut out for me. Having learned that practice makes perfect, I am practicing. Every day I put on the shoes and then march around my house. The first few days I lasted about 30 seconds, and after a week I lasted a full minute. As of this writing, I am able to walk in them for close to two minutes. There is some pain associated with this but I refuse to give up.

Though math has never been my strong suit, I am calculating that by the day of the wedding I might be able to walk in these beautiful new shoes for perhaps five (or more) minutes at a time. However, being of reasonably sound mind, I am leaving nothing to chance. In the event that my ability to walk, along with my pain tolerance, will not have sufficiently increased, I have backup plans. I will take along old, comfortable, flat shoes and ditch my new beauties after the chuppah.

If I can’t bring myself to give up on the heels, I will go to backup plan number two. To that end, I will devise a recruitment schedule. As Hubby is no longer here for me to lean on, I will have to rely on one of my many devoted grandsons to allow me to hold onto his arm as I walk. Each one that I have asked has assured me that he will be happy to be of assistance. Now all I have to do is find one of them in the wedding crowd when I need help! For now, I will continue my daily in-house practice and hope not to need either of those backup plans.

Parents of the bride have to focus on everything, as the details of wedding planning are overwhelming. It’s wonderful to be the grandparent. First and foremost is my wish for the very best for the new couple. After that, all I need to be concerned with is my ability to walk in three-inch sculpted heels. That’s just the way it is!


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