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Martha Petteys

It was like a baby giraffe moments after birth.

Spindly legs wavering. Knees wobbling.

At any moment it would collapse into a pile of right angles and sweat.

“No, seriously, you look great,” said my friend, watching the spectacle from a dressing room chair a safe distance away.

Forty one years old and I was buying my first real pair of high heels. Sure, I’d purchased kitten heels before, which I would in turn keep in the back of my closet for safekeeping, but nothing like this.

“How can you say this looks good?” I said, tottering back and forth in front of the three-panel mirror, ankles buckling.

“You look like a natural,” she said.

“A natural what?”

I wasn’t sure I could trust her opinion. She is one of those bright patterns people. Someone you could see showing up to a party with a halo brow. A pair of footwear that felt akin to those overturned buckets preschoolers wear on their feet and stomp around in might be perfectly normal to her. Not me.

The shoes were ridiculous and impractical.

Naturally, I bought them on the spot.

As much as I disliked the instability, what I liked was the height. I had grown a solid 6 inches, and to a person descended, I suspect, from pygmies, such a gain provided a significant change in perspective and I wasn’t willing to go back to normal life.

That said, I could not wear them in public, as my mastery of them was akin to my ability to transverse canyons with large springs strapped to my feet à la Wile E. Coyote. I would need to practice.

What are you doing?” questioned my eldest like she had just stumbled upon something obscene.

“Umm, the laundry,” I said, volleying back the angst.

True sweatpants and six-inch heels is not a look everyone can pull off, but I think I made it work. I was taller, more powerful, able to reach high shelves in a single bound.

I moved clothes from the washer without the usual help of a step stool.

I washed all the way to the top of the bathroom mirror.

I put away dishes without once climbing onto a chair.

And my calves, though starting to cramp a little, looked fantastic the entire time.

It’s like they say, don’t judge someone till you have walked a mile in their shoes. Or cleaned their litter box in a pair of heels.

Someday I might even be able to wear them in public.

Martha Petteys writes a weekly column for The Post-Star. Write to her at or visit her on Facebook.


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