My shoe was breaking.
Naturally, I was all dressed up, at an upscale art gallery when it happened.
I wondered, what would Lady Gaga do? Rip the shoe in two, turn half into an earring and start a performance art piece.
I didn’t do that.
I wasn’t feeling like a badass right then. I felt like an idiot and I wanted to keep the moment a secret.
So how did I find myself with breaking shoes while in a fancy gallery? A reasonable question. Sometimes I think I attract crazy moments, like I collect jacaranda blossoms on the bottoms of my shoes each June.
Hubby and I were headed to the gallery because my artist friend had a piece in a show there. At home that evening I’d pawed through my closet and found a red dress to wear, and I threw it on. Immediately I ripped it off. (Perhaps I should have sensed this as foreshadowing of events to come.) The dress was not fitting as I’d hoped and I vowed I’d wear skunk-sprayed clothes to the gallery before leaving the house in the dress. (I’m pretty sure I was PMSing that weekend.) After more excavation of my closet I found an outfit more to my liking. I dug out some black dress shoes with a two-inch wedge heel and felt (reasonably) ready to head downtown.
This shoe debacle happened over a year ago. So why tell it now? (A) It’s never too late to share a crazy story. And (B) I recently felt the itch to write another funny blog post. I hadn’t blogged regularly in the last five months and while it felt good to take a break, I also missed writing about my kooky adventures. But was I ready to share this moment? At the time it felt too embarrassing--like proof that I never quite have it together. If anything, I wanted to hide my embarassment in a sealed box. At the back of the closet. For several decades. But I’ve decided that there’s catharsis in being real. The pressure to have it all together is too much. So I’m embracing the embarrassing because human moments bond us.
So there I was, in a nearly empty gallery, with no one to hide behind. The gallery was about to close, but they let me in for a few minutes while Hubby circled the block, looking for parking. (Apparently, I was using 1999 as my reference point for the ability to park in downtown San Diego on a Friday night. In 2016 there was zero parking within a one-mile radius of the Gaslamp district. Hence, Hubby was circling the block while I looked at art and tried to keep my shoe on.)
Right before entering the gallery I realized that the sole was separating from my shoe. Earlier, I’d had an inkling that it was slightly loose. I’d glued it, and felt confident that it would hold together. But there, in the empty gallery, under the bright lights, the sole and my shoe were parting ways. The toe and the sole were still attached, but the heel was headed for the border. An empty, brightly-lit gallery is not the ideal setting when you’re having a wardrobe malfunction. I had the undivided attention of the lady at the front desk. And so I did what any half-shoed art lover would do: I ground my heel into the floor and subtly dragged my foot along as I walked so that she wouldn’t notice my sole flapping against the polished floors. Step, slide. Step, slide. Subtlety at its finest. Perhaps she wondered why a 40+ white lady was doing a bad imitation of a gangsta swagger, but this felt like a better alternative than having my shoe flap along under me. (Seriously--sometimes we have to make split-second decisions.) Shoe dragging felt like the equivalent of when a dog pulls its itchy butt along the ground: it temporarily solves a problem--but it’s not cute.
I turned up my charm a notch as I chatted about art with the gallery lady. Anything to distract from my shoe-turned-flip-flop. In truth, she might have been a down-to-earth person who wouldn’t have judged me if I’d confessed that my shoe was breaking. But because the shoe separation caught me off guard, and I was PMSing and not at my most confident, I felt too embarrassed. And why do these moments never happen at home—only in public?
Was it the end of the world? Of course not. But I rarely dress up, and my ego was bruised. It felt especially frustrating to have my cute look undermined by a broken shoe when I’d put in the extra effort to look good.
After leaving the gallery (step, slide, step, slide), I hobbled out of sight and then ripped the offending shoe off my foot. As Hubby returned, I was partly laughing, but mostly cringing, as I showed him the remains of my shoe. He tried to reassure me, but we both know that these moments seem to happen around me. A lot.
The next day, I tried something new to repair the shoe: Shoe Goo. If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend it. It is designed for durability, because shoes flex and need a stronger glue.
So that’s the story of my broken sole and my damaged ego. A year later, the shoes are gone. I upgraded to a pair that probably will last a century. My ego has recovered. And there’s something healing about sharing an embarrassing moment (after waiting at least a year). We all have embarrassing moments. Sometimes the instinct is to hide them. But sharing them reminds me that it really is okay to be human. Shoes will break but the spirit is actually quite resilient…