I will never forget the thrilling feeling of wearing my first high heeled shoes. It was 1963 and my sister Marsha and I had been pushing Mom and Dad for several months to allow us to wear nylon stockings for the very first time, knowing, of course, that ladies only ever wore stockings with fairly exciting shoes. As far as we were concerned shoes with rhinestones on the straps, shoes with bows, shoes that were any colour but brown or black were exciting.
We were both sick to death (it doesn’t take much to make a 13 year old or 14 year old sick to death. Apparently we could “just die” for any number of reasons—boredom, embarrassment, or starvation when dinner was a half hour late.)We were sick to death of the ugly brown utilitarian ones we normally had to wear, the kind with laces, or the kind with old fashioned buckles like our little sister Norma Jean (Jeannie) ruined her first week of school. The brown leather on the toes of her shoes was worn down to rawhide by her dragging her feet behind her while Marsha and I tugged her along the gravel driveway toward the school bus.
By day two or three she was screaming and twisting like a windsock in a hurricane by the time we got there. If I remember correctly it took Marsha, myself, my brother Keith, and even the bus driver our cousin Wilbert Roemmele, who stepped off the bus momentarily to boost her little behind up the steps on that occasion.It’s kind of funny the memories that something as ordinary as shoes will conjure up.
Finally, for Marsha and me an occasion worthy of new shoes arrived! Our second cousin Donna Lynn was getting married and our little sisters, Janice and Kathy, were flower girls. As there were ten in our family only Mom and Dad and the little girls were invited to the wedding, but Marsha and I could attend the ceremony if we were willing to work as servers, pouring people their coffee and tea at the dinner table. I only remember two things about the occasion— my Aunt Maude asking for a cup of hot water which she actually drank out of the cup like coffee, not even throwing in a specialty tea bag, or some Ovaltine, or anything! The other was the agony of the feet (or “agony of da feet”. If I had the necessary drawl I’d be sorely tempted to use that pun, and hard pressed to find a better one!)
Five minutes into the coffee and tea serving I felt like my feet were in vise grips, but I kept a lunatic smile pasted on my face every time I passed anywhere near my mother and father. I never let on that the white pointy- toed shoes with high heels and toe cleavage (the only cleavage that would be physically possible for at least another five years) were excruciating. It was a great relief when only a month or so later at a Mother- Daughter tea at our school I slipped on the steps and broke the heel off one of them. Good riddance! I would never have to wear them again, and would not even think of putting on another pair of high heels for at least another two years.
That occasion was my first date; it was with a fellow Junior Farmer from the same group that Marsha and I belonged to, and it was to a Red Valley Saddle Club banquet and dance. Even though the only horse I had ever ridden was our neighbours’, the Derbyshire’s blind work horse, the fellow asked me out anyway. I guess he thought that was enough experience to indicate that I had an interest in his passion. (Perhaps hobby might be a less misleading choice of words here.)
I got to wear a beautiful blue floral satin dress which my Mom redesigned for me from one of her own. I danced the night away in slightly more comfortable shoes, but again with a lunatic smile pasted on my face. I had been nervous during dinner, and took a drink of water every time I felt a need to cover for my lack of conversation. Unfortunately, the servers were excellent, and they refilled my glass as often as I emptied it. Then I was just too shy to ask for directions to the Ladies’ room— from him, or anyone else for that matter. Not during dinner, not during the dancing, not even after the dance!
The moral of the story is that if your kid is too mortified to ask directions to the Ladies’ room, as if it is some sort of feminine secret that she too has a bladder, then she is too young to date! How were Mom and Dad supposed to know that the kid who looked so grown up in her nylon stockings, fancy blue high heeled shoes, and the first dress that she couldn’t even put on all by herself, was still a little girl inside all that womanly attire?
The young man was a perfect gentleman and escorted me to my door afterward. Then he planted a kiss on my cheek and turned to go, just as I slammed the door in his face and ran like a blind horse through the darkened house to the bathroom. For some baffling reason he asked me out again, this invitation being rather comical as it was to a Junior Farmers’ barn dance, but it was held on our family’s farm, in our own newly constructed and as yet unused barn.
This time I really did have a lot of fun because I already knew my way to the bathroom.