Shoes, Shopping and Sex. A column from a friend and author, Barbara Silkstone.
Let’s look deeper into the mysterious passions these three sisters of lust – shoes, shopping and sex – hold over us. When is a shoe not merely a shoe? It can be many things, a relationship, a ticket to the future or a memory slide back in time. Shoes run with us, they work with us, they take us dancing, and they are our sexy friends who get us into all sorts of mischief. We can have an affair with more than one pair of shoes at a time and not be a cheater. A shoe can be the prelude to romance or a reason to leave someone. Did our love affair with footwear start with fairytales? Cinderella dropped her slipper and gained a prince, while the old woman hid out in a shoe pregnant and barefoot.
Remember the shoes you wore the night you lost your virginity? Were they innocent little ballet shoes or were they “take-me” strappy sandals? Do they sit in the back of your closet wearing little grins on their leathery faces? Does the sight and the texture of them re-excite or embarrass you?
How about those red strappy sling backs you wore just before that memorable one-night stand? Remember what they looked like the next morning strewn on the floor with the rest of your clothes? Do they come out when you’re looking for trouble or have they migrated to the thrift shop?
For fun, ask your guy what shoes he was wearing the first time you had sex. Unless he only owns one pair, he’s going to be stumped. And if he owns only one pair of shoes what are you doing with him? We hang on to shoes because they hold an emotional connection to an event. We seek out new shoes because we’re looking for new relationships. As your favourite pair becomes a little loose and worn, are they like a former lover? Is it time to find a tighter, firmer fit? That leads us to shopping.
In Intimate Encounters by Sierra Michaels, Cali the heroine is working her way through graduate school by giving massages and happy endings at the apartment, a pleasure pad in Los Angeles. Cali counts on a variety of nifty spiked heels to turn on her clients and also to pay for her degree in archaeology. Angel works at the apartment to feed her shopping habit. She’s a bit of a princess and shops at least three times a week. She likes designer brands and would spend all her money on clothes, purses and shoes. She’s shopping to fill the void as she doesn’t have a boyfriend, but she does have an unconscious desire for sex. She’s in the sex industry, but it’s not satisfying for her. She’s competing with a lot of beautiful women in Los Angeles. She must look hot all the time, that includes those six-inch heels.
At the beginning of Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella, recent college graduate Rebecca Bloomwood is offered a hefty line of credit by a London bank. Soon she’s exceeded the Visa limit and is playing hide-and-seek with bill collectors. As many readers may recall, the irony of the story is that for all her outrageous spending, she works for a publication called Successful Saving. Shopping as a replacement for sex is never drawn in sharper detail than when Rebecca buys a Denny and George scarf on sale. It’s nothing short of a seduction scene as the clerk slides the scarf box into a thick glossy bag with dark green cord handles. When she hands it to the shopaholic, Rebecca almost cries out. She describes the ultimate orgasm as ‘That instant when our fingers curl around the handles of a shiny, uncreased bag and all the gorgeous new things inside become yours.’ In an effort to get her habit under control Rebecca opts for cheaper pleasures like parks and museums. She visits the Victoria and Albert Museum but decides it’s a bore. There are no price tags in sight. Can she feel satisfied when despite her fab career, great flat and designer wardrobe, she is constantly ducking letters from credit card companies? Is Rebecca filling her void by shopping?
“She describes the ultimate orgasm as “That instant when our fingers curl around the handles of a shiny, uncreased bag and all the gorgeous new things inside become yours.””
Shopping is more than a form of female bonding. “It’s as though we are communing with a higher being,” Kinsella writes. As we shop together, we guide our friends to find themselves while we redefine who we are.
I recall a recent shopping trip in Miami with my friend Pam. She insisted on buying five-inch-high slip-on patent wedges. “They’ll make my legs look longer.” As she waddles back and forth on the carpet I see disaster in her future. “You’ve just started to date Robert, don’t take chances. You’ve been a year without a man. You’re going to break you ankle in those shoes,” I caution her. My friend ignores my caring advice and purchases the shoes. The following day, as she runs to the door to greet Robert with a kiss, she stumbles and … breaks her ankle.
Shopping in London in a shoe boutique, I was trying on a pair of Ferragamo flats, the style called Vara with the little bows on the toes. I’ve been in love with those classics since I could walk. My legs are thin and my knees have a tendency to look at each other, but those shoes made my stems look like a model’s. I did a little spin in the mirror and realized I was being watched. The man looking at me was a relatively famous movie actor. His handsome face was familiar from American Westerns. I stopped twirling and looked at him quizzically. “Please don’t stop. I was just enjoying your enjoyment,” he said as he smiled and walked away. I should have had a witty response but the shoes got in my way.
Can hot sex come to the non-shopper? Enter Bridget Jones with her closet crammed with twisted pantyhose and sweaters that seem to have grown in the dark like mushrooms. And if huge white panties were really such a turn-on for the Daniel Cleavers, then shopping for shoes might be redundant. But think of the smell of real leather tucked lightly in pink tissue, removing the wadded paper from the toe knowing yours is the first foot this shoe will caress. It’s like the first touch of a new lover, but frequently much better. The shoe knows exactly what to do.
We can’t separate these three sisters of lust: Shoes, Shopping and Sex any more than we can separate Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda. But let’s chat about the ladies of Sex and the City in my next column.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on shoes that have changed your sex life, shoes that you treasure, shoes that made you the woman you are today.
With love & laughter,