I stared at myself in the full-length mirror in my bedroom wondering where the fresh-faced girl of my youth had gone. You know, the one with the slender body that wore cigarette leg jeans and stiletto heels. In my menopausal haze, I decided I needed a distraction.
Wandering into a trendy shop, I roamed the aisles and suddenly a burst of vibrant colors appeared before me. My hand brushed against a ruffled blouse in a size 4 that was clearly intended for a pre-pubescent young girl. Placing the blouse back on the rack, I smiled to myself and shook my head muttering, “Nope, not gonna happen.”
As a woman of a certain age, I try to dress for ease and comfort, but there are always temptations. Ok, I confess, shoes were my downfall. In my younger days, I wore crushed velvet platform shoes in an eye-popping fuchsia with silver piping. Preparing to go out on a Friday night, I proudly came down the stairs making a flawless entrance. My father would look up from his evening newspaper, do a double take, shake his head and return to reading. Years later, he would say, “Remember when you use to wear those shoes with the coffin lining?” I cringed at the thought. Perhaps some things should be left in the past, but not today.
Like a periscope, I scanned the aisles with wide-eyed delight. Oh the sights, the colors and last but not least, ah yes, the shoe department!
Suddenly I spotted them. They were the color of midnight, sleek and lanky with an iridescent sheen like a jaguar. I hesitated for a moment and looked in their direction. “Hello there stranger,” they whispered in a sweet, sultry voice. I looked over my shoulder and around the shop to make sure there hadn’t been some mistake. Were they talking to me? “P’sst.” “Hey, you!” “Come closer, take a good look.” “Don’t be shy!” I inched forward one step at a time and then it hit me. I was hooked.
In that moment I became Audrey Hepburn, wearing a classic black dress that fell just below the knees, strands of pearls clinging to my neck. My legs are encased in a pair of silky, sheer stockings and these strangers that beckoned to me have taken their rightful place at my feet. I feel as if I have been propelled skyward, magically becoming sexier and knockout gorgeous. Eyeing my silhouette in the mirror, I turn my well shaped calves to admire the satiny, stiletto heels.
“Why don’t you walk around a little to see if those heels will be comfortable,” the young clerk chirped, her judgmental gaze eyeing me from head to toe. Could it be the haute-couture of baggy sweatpants and the wrinkled T-shirt that I am wearing that give her pause? By this time, I had no shame.
Striding across the carpet like a runway model, I suddenly feel an electric shock shoot through my left foot. The pain is so intense that I crumple like a piece of old newspaper. Grabbing the arm of the nearest chair, I gently ease the shoes from my feet. “I don’t think I’ll be buying these,” I whisper, unwilling to release these beauties from my grip.
Suddenly a white, hot power surge overtakes me, beads of sweat cover my brow. Pain still pulsates through my foot, a silent reminder that I have been humbled but not beaten.
Had I arrived at a stage of life where wisdom and comfort were more important than trying to compete in a youth-oriented culture? During the drive home, I have come to the realization that it can be a lot of fun to revisit the past, but it sure is nice to know that my Birkenstocks are waiting for me under my bed. I feel invigorated by this new found knowledge, but my thoughts are suddenly interrupted as my car veers toward an ice cream shop. All reason is gone. A red velvet sundae with French Vanilla ice cream, swirls of whip cream and chocolate sauce, is calling my name.
As I sit at a table, enjoying each spoonful of mouth-watering heaven, I become philosophical and a famous quote comes to mind. As millionaire and entrepreneur E. Joseph Cossman once said, “middle age is when a broad mind and a narrow waist exchange places.”