Sole Survival

Single women live by an unspoken creed: When the going gets tough, the tough go chaussure shopping.

This is why my pal April and I underwent some intensive retail therapy in France during the fall of ‘05. We’d both been jilted by an excruciatingly pretty man, but even in those apocalyptic times we were ready and raring to pick out some delicious foot candies.

Eager to look the part of a fille about town, I donned a wide-brimmed hat and my favorite knee-high boots (the ones with four-inch wedges for heels) and marched several miles like a little soldier from our hotel to the Champs-Elysées, holy grail of couture. Kicking off this adventure in veritable stilts was a mistake and I blame the impeccably styled natives. When visiting a foreign country, one must do her best to fit in, and I had somehow convinced myself blisters would qualify as souvenirs. Needless to say, I trekked the last six blocks in white tube socks (c’est chic, no?), and snapped up a pair of moccasin-style flats from the first storefront we stumbled upon. And yes, I slipped them on over the socks since there were no Band-Aids in sight.

April, a gorgeous blond from Dallas, found delight in fondling European price tags and receipts that would later become part of my scrap book. She also taught me to say, “Combien ce coût?” (How much does this cost?) and “L’avez-vous dans une autre colour?” (Do you have it in another color?) with her sassy Texas drawl. All of this—plus the chocolate mousse I ate after every meal—was enough to send my brain into a dopamine-secreting riot. Salespeople were chanting “yee haw!” with plum Parisian accents and rolling their eyes in disapproval as only the French know how, but in those moments, April and I were initiated into a secret society. The universal signal—the swipe of a MasterCard—had been sent. We would be forever bonded by shoes. Glorious shoes.

As the sun set, we toted our bags to an outdoor café near the Arc de Triomphe where we wined and dined without whining about men or our tender, beat up feet. After devouring the most magnificent four course meal I’ve ever experienced, we returned to the hotel. I collapsed on the bed, my new things all around me, and could not contain my joie at the thought of the next day’s itinerary: a romp in the shoe department at Printemps, a souped-up version of Bloomingdale’s with a rooftop view of the city. Oh, and I climbed the first few steps of the Eiffel Tower in my Jessica Simpson Daisy cowboy boots, which I had smuggled overseas.

The best part? Somewhere during the course of that trip April and I managed to build up resistance to painful heels of the tall and pretty variety (surely you know what I mean). Ever since, I have proclaimed sole-searching, in its many forms, a legitimate cure for whatever romantic disillusion ails me.


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