Friday, February 03, 2006

These shoes are made for walking

Scientists have mapped the human genome, and there are all kinds of exciting implications for disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. But that’s all too theoretical and impersonal for me to fully appreciate. I know what they would find if they mapped my genes – I’m obviously missing something on the X chromosome.

I hate shoe shopping. I kind of hate shoes, except that it hurts to walk on many surfaces without them, and they are required for most social outings. At work, I kick them off at every opportunity, then have to blindly foot-feel for them under my desk when I’m pulled away on some grammar emergency.

But I desperately need some new shoes, so this weekend I will make the dreaded excursion to the dreaded shoe emporium to get some dreaded shoes that make me look like a woman who cares about shoes. Because I’m practical enough to want comfortable, but vain enough to want pretty.

I enjoyed Sex and the City, but it was often an anthropological lesson for me. I’d never heard of Jimmy Choos or Manolo Blahniks before that show introduced me to the high-end world of shoe fetishism. Sure, I have friends who love shoes, who can shop for them until long after I’m cowering under coat racks. But they now know better than to bring me along or regale me with stories of their shoe conquests. My lack of stamina for the hunt, or my blank stare when they brag about their latest trophy, is apparently not very gratifying.

A friend of mine once asked her boyfriend if he liked her new, wildly patterned shoes. He answered, incredibly tactfully for him (she had him well-trained), that he liked some of her other shoes better. This resulted in a relationship crisis that I’m not sure has been completely resolved, years later. I tried really hard to be sympathetic to her when she told me of the appalling shallowness of his love for her, but all I could think was, why ask if you didn’t really want to know? Why train him to lie to you?

Of course I’m not alone. Not all women are obsessed with shoes. Not all women ask questions like “do these shoes make me look fat?” Women might be from Venus, but there’s more than one continent on the planet. Generalizations are good for, well, generalizing, but they don’t offer much help at all when dealing with specific individuals. So they mapped the genome … when will they get to mine?