WALKING TALL

Womanish: African American colloquialism (mostly in the South) for a young girl who is acting too grown; a  designation usually given by the elder women in the community who predict that such a young girl will soon become the town’s next wild woman.

I am pretty conservative, and though I have often admired the stylish flair other women possess, my wardrobe was always safe, a quiet classic look . . . until the fateful day I walked into my favorite department store and a pair of shoes called, no, make that fairly screamed out my name. I bought those shoes. I couldn’t help myself; I had to possess them. They were, and still are, bold and brash. I called them my “womanish” shoes.

Those black, pointy-toed four inch heel kick the door in look out world I’m coming through shoes took control of my personality. Every time I slipped my feet into those shoes and pulled those leather straps up and across my insteps (just a whisper above bewitching ankles) to unite them with silver buckles that hovered over sensual bare-naked heels, my feet arched and a deep throated baritone whispered in my ear, “Oooo Baby, they look good on you!”

In these shoes I was no longer a rather dumpy fifty-something rolling down the hill towards senior citizen land woman. Instead I was a thirty-something self-assured Diva (twenty-something is much too young for these shoes) whose mere entree into any room turned the men into blithering idiots, while the women who were Cinderellas before I stepped through the door turned into pumpkins when I made my grand entrance.

These shoes made the ring around my waist disappear; they elongated my neck, and the curves of my youth that had acquiesced to gravity years ago immediately snapped back into place with alacrity and panache. Instantly I was smart, stylish, a witty and brilliant female bon vivant everyone wanted to know.

My womanish shoes turned my everyday much too loud and common laugh into a head thrown back scintillating sparkle that trilled its way past dazzling white teeth through slightly open, slightly moist, red glazed lips. Those shoes made me want to throw my head from side to side while I danced, hollered and “shook a groove thing.”

I bought that first pair of womanish shoes before my husband, who was a pastor, died. I walked into church just a little self-conscious about my new pair of shoes when a good deacon walked over to me, looked at my feet, raised his eyebrows and smiled rather suggestively. I had barely recovered from that unexpected reaction when another good brother walked by, nodded at my feet and said, with a glint in his eye, “Nice shoes.”  That’s when it hit me; “These shoes have as much power for me as that old geezer’s red sports car with the young trophy wife in the passenger seat has for him. And not only do the shoes have power, they somehow magically empower the wearer to the point where confidence overrides insecurity causing the wearer to walk just a little bit taller.” But, since I was still a married woman, whenever anyone commented on my shoes (mostly men), I would do my best to smile demurely, say “thank-you” and pretend that I was not even aware of the fact that my shoes were womanish.

After my husband died, I upped the ante on the shoes. I went womanish shoe shopping, probably a by-product of my grief, aka shopping therapy. Today, whenever I wear a pair from my ever growing collection, I make sure that the people who knew me “when” know that I bought my first pair before my husband died, especially since it’s now mostly women who comment on my shoes and say “my, how you’ve changed.” One just has to stop those shoe rumors before they start . . . sometimes. 

SOME THINGS TO REMEMBER ABOUT WOMANISH SHOES

  • Womanish shoes ooze confidence.
  • Womanish shoes mean what they say, but they are never mean in anything they say.
  • Womanish shoes are never self conscious.
  • Womanish shoes have attitude, but they are never vain.
  • Womanish shoes always know what to say and when to say what they have to say.
  • Womanish shoes never cry “uncle.”
  • Womanish shoes walk the red carpet in faith.
  • Womanish shoes dance before the Lord with great joy.
  • Womanish shoes make a $10 grab bag dress look like haute couture.
  • Womanish shoes take life challenges one step at a time.
  • Womanish shoes praise God standing up.
  • Womanish shoes walk through the valley of the shadow of death without fear.
  • Womanish shoes may grow old but they never age.
  • Womanish shoes never compare themselves to the pair of shoes standing next to them
  • Womanish shoes celebrate life in Christ

Until my shoe epiphany in the store that fateful day, my shoe wardrobe consisted of sensible black shoes that all looked the same, sensible black shoes that were comfortable and homely and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Back then, I did not want, or desire, the attention womanish shoes brought to the wearer. I was more concerned about what people thought of me.  Today, I am most definitely a womanish shoe wearing person. I am constantly on the prowl for the next pair. Besides, it doesn’t hurt to keep my public wondering. After all, wonderful and marvelous things do happen when I slip into those shoes. This I do swear and affirm, so help me Macy’s, Nordstrom’s, and all those purveyors of womanish shoes.

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