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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

High Heel Hell


Most of us have experienced it, the high school ritual known as Senior Prom.


The Willamette River runs through downtown Portland. An esplanade bordering the river is crowded with restaurants that are popular on prom night. For years Mrs. C. and I have made a habit of parking ourselves on a bench to watch the parade of young people dressed in finery on their special night. Stretch limos come and disgorge self-conscious teens trying their best to look nonchalant and grown up. Mrs. C. and I have fond memories of our prom, which we attended together forty-two years ago.


It’s hard to ignore how mature the girls look beside gawky guys in tails or white tuxedos with top hats and canes. (I kid you not.) The young men often look ill-at-easy in their rented tuxedos while their dates look like elegant Grace Kellys. But there’s something amiss with these young women—the way they walk. More correctly, the way they struggle to walk.


They wear high heels, even those towering over their dates, and they wobble about like nineteenth century Chinese women with bound feet. They totter and lurch like they’re on stilts. I guess it’s understandable that young women these days aren’t practiced at walking in heels; who’s going to teach them? It’s unlikely their mothers wear heels and teens don’t like to emulate their parents at this age anyway. Finishing schools once focused on walking with grace and poise but today young ladies get their culture tips from The Bachelorette and Jersey Shore.


Every now and then we spot a young lady in sneakers that match her outfit. Our last prom night expedition provided the rare sight of a radiant girl, her pink satin gown accessorized with matching bunny-shaped slippers. Returning home with aching feet wasn’t in her future.


After exiting limos, many of the girls remove their heels and lug them around. Their dresses have been designed for that extra elevation and hems are now dragging on the ground. And the dancing hasn’t even started, not that the boys look interested in dancing. If memory serves, most of them will stand around the edge of the dance floor with their hands buried in rented pants.


But dancing isn’t what terrifies these guys most. Two concerns at this stage of the evening make it likely that before the evening is over they’re going to sweat through their rented tuxes. First: how will they know when the moment is right to kiss their dates, and will they be brave enough to seize the opportunity? Second; they wonder if they have enough money to cover the cost of dinner if she orders anything more expensive than the chicken special.


The boys are too distracted to notice that their dates are struggling with their shoes. They have yet to notice that their dates even have feet.


46 comments:

  1. Great post, and so spot-on! I'm Anne, from Life on the Funny Farm, and I'm visiting from Finding the Funny. Have a good one!

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  2. I don't get the fascination of these spikey heeled shoes. It seems like self-inflicted torture but all women of all age groups seemed to adore them. My friends assure me that they are so comfy and that I just need to get used to them. That isn't going to happen.

    I sense a little naivety on your part. My husband would have attended my prom 42 years ago as well. And maybe boys were worrying about kissing their dates goodnight back then. That isn't how it works today. Things have progressed. Really, you don't even want to know.

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  3. I don't know who invented high heels but he must have been a sadist. I can't imagine trying to walk around in some of those things where your feet are almost vertical. It's crazy the things women will do to themselves to look "beautiful". The hardest thing us guys have to do is figure out how to tie a necktie or bowtie.

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  4. I loved this!! You paint a great picture of that annual rite-of-passage. I ADORE my heels. They make my calves look awesome! But even after several decades of wearing them I still worry that I wobble.

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  5. I worked with the teenage species of human for years and you are so spot on with your analysis of this "oh so important" rite of passage.
    I never cared for heels myself. But then I'm of the "yippy dippy hippy" genre. I've hugged a few trees, danced by the light of the moon, but never at prom.
    Great post, Oma Linda

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  6. Oh, yes, the cash-strapped worry (for many of us) about what the date will order, then doing the calculations in our head to determine if we actually have enough left over to order something more than a burger for ourselves (and we're teenaged boys, who like few things more than eating humongous amounts of food, so it really is torture.)

    Nice picture painted.

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  7. Never fear about the footwear dilemma. Soon enough everyone will be wearing flip-flops everywhere ...oh, wait, they already are.

    The only thing left is to figure out how in the world to make flip-flop safety shoes with steel toes.

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  8. Oh, and this kind of reminded me of that short story by Steve Martin, Cruel Shoes.

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  9. Women have feet! Well that's news to me. I'll check with my wife of 31 years later today. As usual thanks for the laugh.

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  10. And they ain't looking at their feet, anyway.

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  11. I USED to wear high heels...to work, with my business suits...but alas, the feet give out at about age 50, and so we all go back to flats and tennies so that we won't be hobbling around at 64. But once you get those pump bumps and callouses, they are there for life. Nevertheless, I covet the pretty high heels still...

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  12. When I was a young girl and wearing the high heels of the day they were not as high as what you see the girls wearing now. One of the best things Princess Diana did was bring flats and low heeled shoes into fashion! But now those spiky things are back -- and I do admit to loving the way they look, not to mention the legs! -- but being officially elderly now, I would not consider even trying a pair on for old time's sake! It is a sad fact though -- constant wear of these shoes throws the spine out of kilter and can lead to chronic back problems later on.

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  13. I didn't attend my prom. Wasn't allow to dance. One day I'll do some posts about my childhood. I've been thinking about doing so for some time. Painful as it will be.

    Have a terrific day. :)

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  14. My granddaughter's heels are so high she is actually walking on tippy-toes. I don't recall my shoes ever being that ridiculously high but then, I'm of the 'finishing school' era when walking gracefully was encouraged and before 'my shoes are higher than yours,' became the catch phrase of teenage ladies. Loved your post Mr. C.

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  15. I love your depiction of teenagers! My oldest will soon be thirteen, and I know he spends hours thinking about how to impress girls. It makes my heart break at the thought of him navigating the road to adulthood. I'm your newest follower on GFC. I can't wait to read through more of your posts!

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  16. You've been on one with feet lately, haven't you?

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  17. I've read that Dolly Parton's slippers have high heels.

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  18. I read that Dolly Parton can't see her feet

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  19. The boys are not going to look any lower than their dates' cleavage. And isn't the most important part of prom night trying to lose one's virginity? Feet don't really matter then -- unless the guy has a foot fetish. Oh, dear. If some guy had tried to suck on my toes when I was in high school, I would have screamed (my feet are ticklish). I guess I'd scream now, too.

    Love,
    Janie

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  20. Why do young girls put themselves through so much pain! I can't waear any heals now due to fallen arches on the balls of my feet, which I am told was down to wearing pigging high heels!

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  21. I never went to prom. My boyfriend senior year was anti-establishment, which was fine with me. I wasn't into dolling up, anyways. I did go to the overnight graduation party where they locked us in the school until morning. We had a live band and then later a DJ (I danced almost all night); played volleyball and badminton; cards and board games. We were very closely chaperoned. It was a blast. I know I am really showing my age. This was long before limos and hotel suites, I tell you. I played Rummy 500 and we were all drinking pop and eating chips and M&Ms. Still innocent. ;)

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  22. Amazing. How did you ever construct a sentence with the words "culture" and "Jersey Shore" in the SAME sentence.

    That was UNbelievable.

    And it worked. It really did.

    *smile*

    And a huge LOL to Cheryl's comment regarding "THINGS have progressed" and proms ain't for JUST kissing anymore. hee hee hee

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  23. I'm afraid it's true...kissing is the least of what happens on prom night these days! By morning those girls will have their underwear tucked into those shoes.

    I loved your description, though. Our local newspaper publishes a couple of pages of photos of prom-goers, and I'm always amazed at how sophisticated the girls look in their high fashion prom gowns!

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  24. Hey, hey, I know that Willamette river! I live in Portland too.

    I never understood why tall women, or any woman for that matter, but especially tall women would wear heels. I would think most guys wouldn't want their date towering over them. Although I am on the tall side and appreciative of that and would understand why other people would want to be tall so maybe I don't know what I'm talking about. Wouldn't be the first time.

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  25. Gads, how i hate heels! Only own one pair, to wear when i absolutely must.

    The girl with the bunny slippers, i bet she was an honor student. That was smart.

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  26. I think you just gave me an idea on how to finance retirement: invest tons of money in high-heel shoe companies and some more money in the podiatry industry.

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  27. LOve This Dear! i enjoyed seeing it, Thanks For Posting ♥

    Mwaks!

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    Blow a Rainbow

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  28. Oohhh, the memories of prom! My own teenager went to prom last month and we had the same discussion about her shoes. Later when she came home with aching, red feet, she acknowledged it may have been a little vain to wear them. What a fun thing to do- watching the kids going to prom! You've probably seen some doozies of outfits-

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  29. Same observation at high school graduations with the girls having to walk up and down steps and across the stage. Those heels were outrageous. Surely, no one would choose to wear them without peer pressure to fit in.

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  30. I used to love heels. I'm tallish and just wanted to be taller. Now, I just want to be comfortable.

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  31. I wore heels when I was still trying to impress the boys and wanted to look cool and fashionable. Now I've come to understand comfort is the best way to be stylish.

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  32. I still love heels even if I dont wear them every day .. and on the days I do, I wear flats or sandals or boots (depending on season and whim of weather) to the office and put the heels on here .. but I do remember all too well the first shaky steps taken in high heels ... where were the training wheels?

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  33. yep...my first 3 kids were girls....and 9 proms with different outfits and different shoes..yep...

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  34. I enjoyed reading this post. It brought back memories from my ownhigh school experience! I had a snappy new suit, but not a tux. Loved the reference to Grace Kelly!

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  35. ahh to be young again. it's nice to see some glamour and even nicer to see young people enjoying themselves.

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  36. I think schools should have classes for girls to teach them how to be graceful. Although you can just bet they will be criticised for being sexist. Luckily, as you say, the boys don't notice. !

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  37. Whoever decided women should walk on skinny tall spikes beneath their heels was the same one who coerced Eve into trying out the apple. Or whatever it was. I have never cared for heels, not the ones who push them on society nor the ones we are supposed to wear on our feet.

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  38. my daughter was one who wore co-ordinating sneakers. i know my older daughter's one friend learned to walk in heels when her very flamboyant dad taught her. i wonder if he could teach me too? nah...i guess i'll stick with my sensible shoes.

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  39. High heels still slay me! Though the ones in that first pic might be worth it for the pain...;)

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  40. I've never attended a prom, I'm delighted to say, as the gender stereotyping would drive me insane. I have dj-ed at many end of school year parties and the boys dance as much as the girls.

    My teenage daughter's wobble around in high heels and it just cracks me up.

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  41. I can identify with this account; my daughter had her prom night a couple of years ago. She looked more uncomfortable than most as she is a sporty, non-girly type - but still, of course, the most beautiful girl at the prom!

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  42. Good piece of writing. Thanks for sharing it in #FindingTheFunny!

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  43. Lol, the shoes in your picture are pretty cool, but I never quite got the idea behind high heels anyway. ...Doesn't do much for me, really. I'd rather a girl wore something comfortable.

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