“Oooh, try these on,” she said.
I took a step backward and shook my head. “Too small,” I protested. She pressed them into my hands. “You’ve talked about doing the walk for ages,” Karin said. “Is THIS the year you’ll go for it?”
Next to her stood my daughter Nicole, who recently began working at the Shasta Women’s Refuge and Family Justice Center, the local organization that runs the event on behalf of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Nicole also had been after me to step into some stilettos. She’d handed me a brochure, and I’d filed it in the “to-do-for-Nicole” pile, next to a pair of broken roller skates from her middle-school years.
A few days earlier, Nicole had shown me the event website, www.walkamileinhershoes.org, in an attempt to win me over. I was impressed… but walking in HEELS? Really?
While she pitched the idea, I studied the screen. The national event traces its origins to 2001, when Frank Baird and a small group of men dared one another to totter around a park to show their support for women. Today, it has grown to a word-wide movement with tens of thousands or men raising millions of dollars to combat sexual violence. The funds are used to help rape crisis centers, domestic violence shelters and programs to educate, prevent and remediate. I saw the beauty of the idea… for others… but not for my own well-turned heels.
“Look at this,” Nicole said. There was a video of a man walking on crutches, wearing a cast and a single red spike-heeled shoe.
“He can do it,” she nodded, and then looked at me expectantly. I wondered just how he’d broken his leg.
“I’ll think about it.” I said, and I did for about two seconds, and then I beat a hasty retreat.
A day had passed into memory, as had my promise. But there we were in a store that sold women’s shoes. I’d come looking for clocks. No luck. So I was ready to go, but then I was surrounded by women barring the way. I didn’t realize that my daughter, wife, and all the stores volunteers would gang up on me.
This was when my wife presented me with the shoes, and the challenge. I dodged her attention, and tried to wiggle out of any commitment by bringing my daughter into the conversation.
“So who else do you actually KNOW that is walking?” I asked Nicole. I thought this was an artful way of pointing out that no one we know would actually DO THIS.
“My boss’s dad is walking for the Enterprise Team,” Nicole said. “He’s been practicing getting around in a pair of high-heeled wedges. His wife has been supporting him—literally—while he learns how to walk again.”
I found this alarming. “What kind of shoes are those?” I asked, angling for a final, saving, topic-change.
Karin reasserted herself into the conversation. “They’re sort of a platform, if they’re flat,” she said. “If they’re angled, then they’re wedges.”
This was sounding dangerous, and painful.
“I thought you were trying to talk me into this?” I said, looking at Karin, and then Nicole.
“Hey, we walk around in these, can’t you?” Karin said.
“You also bear children,” I said. “I’m not going to line up for that.”
She didn’t laugh.
So I caved, and we bought the only pair of size 11 shoes at the thrift shop. They were practical and, fortunately, comfortable. This, strangely, didn’t entirely please my wife.
“We need to find you some real heels,” Karin said. We got home, and she spent the better part of an evening looking at “Heels-For-Men,” or something like that. There is, I learned, some pretty impressive foot-art out there if I ever decide to become a professional drag queen. But to get into some of these things you need a step ladder and an insurance waiver. I got altitude sickness just looking at them.
“But I HAVE my shoes.
“You need to get into the spirit of the thing. Didn’t you see all the colorful shoes.” She pulled up the website, and quoted to me: “Why heels? It’s not just the humor of their impracticality. It also makes men more aware of the vulnerability women feel.”
“OK. I’ll tell you what,” I said. “I’ll make it a part of my fundraising appeal. The more people who pledge, the more outrageous shoes I’ll wear.”
This seemed like a pretty safe move. Knowing how hard it is to raise funds, I set my goal at a pretty steep $250. The problem is, after I shared the pledge on Facebook, my friends immediately donated more than $100.
On the first day.
This is good news for the women’s shelter, but not so good for me. I’ll follow-up next week with what I am going to wear on the 13th.
Do donate to this worthwhile cause. Just don’t do it under my name, PLEASE…. My wife has her eyes on some high-heeled hip boots.
Robb has enjoyed writing and performing since he was a child, and many of his earliest performances earned him a special recognition-reserved seating in the principal’s office at Highland Elementary. Since then, in addition to his weekly column on A News Cafe – “Or So it Seems™” – Robb has written news and features for The Bakersfield Californian, appeared on stage as an opening stand-up act in Reno, and his writing has been published in the Funny Times. His short stories have won honorable mention national competition. His screenplay, “One Little Indian,” Was a top-ten finalist in the Writer’s Digest competition. Robb presently lives, writes and teaches in Shasta County.