We all know her. She is the timeless woman: classic, ageless, gracefully accepting each challenge of getting older. Her lithe limbs glide across the room. Upon close examination of her skin, we wonder what night cream she uses. We assume she has spent her entire life in the gym and has never seen the sun. She looks stylish in flats. I am not that woman. In fact, I hate her. She is the epitome of “aging gracefully.” I, on the other hand, am aging disgracefully.
Over the next few weeks, because there is just too damn much to write about on the subject of aging disgracefully in one post, I will examine every aspect of how my body has begun to betray me.
Let’s start at the bottom – my feet.
After decades of wearing fabulous heels and cute flip-flops, not to mention logging thousands of miles on a tennis court, my feet are waging a silent war against me. Apparently, they launch their main attack each night while I sleep. Now, every morning, I have to stretch my feet for several minutes before taking a single step out of bed or the pain in my plantar fascia will shoot up my leg causing me to face-plant onto the carpet. Nice.
Shoe shopping used to be a transformative experience for me. Even on the most frustrating days, the dazzling treats displayed in the shoe department of a good department store offered hope for the future. Designer Shoe Warehouse was my crack house.
Now, shoe shopping is a grim adventure into three worlds: stripper shoes, sittin’ pretty shoes, and the shoes I should wear.
On the first rounder of the shoe department, I find the stripper shoes – an assortment of metallic platform torture devices fitted with skinny straps that scream, “Wear me! I’ll dig into the top of your foot and give you pump fat!” If I were a 22-year-old pole-dancer with a much smaller butt, I might consider these. But, sadly these shoes would make me tip forward while attempting to walk, making my butt look even bigger than it is. (I’ll get to that later.) And I’ve already paid for my college degree. There’s no reason to get on the pole now. (And we’re back to face-planting.)
I only pause at the stripper shoes for a split second before the shoe angels pull me to the center table. The heavens part, casting a halo around my deepest desire: the sittin’ pretty shoes. They are beautiful, usually a classic pump style with a delicately curved, four-inch heel. They beg to be worn to power lunches and cocktail parties. Unfortunately, I have to walk into said luncheon or party before I can sit pretty, and the thin sole offers no support at all. Damn you, you perfectly constructed, patent leather pump available in every color of the rainbow. You are a wicked temptress.
I turn away from the center table, knowing those shoes are for someone else’s feet now. Dismayed, I peer at the dark, back corner of the shoe department. You know the section I speak of where Rockport, Easy Spirit, Clarks and Orthaheel shoes are displayed next to posters of fallen arches and heel spurs. I know that is where my feet want to go. So I abide and slide into a sensible sandal, well equipped with a supportive arch and cushioned heel. My feet are thrilled. My soul is crushed. This category is also known as the I’m-one-step-away-from-giving-up-on-life shoes. Behold my future.
Yes, after months of early morning stretching, corrective insoles, and rolling a frozen can of juice concentrate under my feet, I am in less pain. However, every time I choose to wear the good-for-my-feet sandals rather than my fetching wedges, I die a little inside.
As for the 18-year-old that pranced by me in the canned food aisle of Publix wearing a to-die-for royal blue shift dress and killer nude wedges, all legs and attitude, I still have the ability to kick you in the neck, and I get excellent traction in my sensible shoes. I just may need a nap afterwards.
So, how are you aging disgracefully? Come on, share a little. I bet Father Time is pissing you off, too.