Princess ShoesI think most women own at least one pair of what I now call “princess shoes”. In case an explanation of the term is necessary: princess shoes are shoes that are enchantingly lovely on their own, but when you put them on, you feel transformed into a more beautiful, regal or chic version of yourself. In many cases princess shoes are also known as “15 minute shoes”; shoes that are so gorgeous they’re worth the pain but, realistically, the longest you can wear them while vertical is about 15 minutes.

Tabitha was gifted with her first pair of princess shoes this past Xmas. Next to her stocking Santa placed the precise pair of hot pink, glitter-covered ballerina shoes that she’d been covetting for the past 6 months. The rest of her stocking’s contents were a blur to her the moment she laid eyes on all that glittering girlishness. And when she slipped them on her feet, I looked up from my seat and instantly recognized the sparkle in her eyes.

Unfortunately Tabitha’s new princess shoes are also 15 minute shoes and they soon exacted a toll upon their wearer. Within several hours, she began to complain that her heels were hurting. When Dick suggested she take them off and let her feet rest for a while, a horrified expression crossed her face. Remove princess shoes? What heresy! After she began limping and holding back tears, I stepped in and forcefully removed her beloved princess shoes. I explained to her that some shoes take a while to become comfortable. I wanted to start giving her all my secrets for surviving princess shoes – like always have a back-up pair that will work with your outfit – but Tabitha’s 3 and we have plenty of time to learn these lessons. Or so I thought.

For a week following her first encounter with the princess shoes the raw blisters on Tabitha’s fleshy pink heels caused every bath to be an excruciating experience, and don’t even get me started on the morning shoe selection process – pure agony – and that was just for the rest of us. Despite the painful injuries inflicted upon her by the princess shoes, every dalliance into the topic of footwear became a battle royal with Tabitha pitching a screaming fit, demanding that she be accessorized with her princess shoes while I tried in vain distract her as I slipped her Crocs onto her injured feet. Naturally, Dick found Tabitha’s masochistic obsession with the princess shoes utterly bizarre. To him, and most heterosexual men I’ve known, shoes are a necessity required for safety and comfort and not much else. The notion that someone would choose to purchase, let alone wear shoes that were neither safe nor comfortable just does not compute.

I’m finding it hard to explain the whole complicated relationship between females and footwear. I guess my easy answer is that shoes are like porn. The right pair of shoes can spark our imagination, allowing us the temporary illusion that we’re far more sexually desirable and thus, powerful, than we probably are. The illusion (or delusions) one can acheive with the right pair of shoes puts the high in high heels.


Nearly one week after Xmas, Dick and I were planning our New Years Eve festivities and subsequent attire. Dick selected a loose-fitting black & tan print button down shirt, black trousers and sensible black loafers. I wore a diaphanous silk blouse with a sweetheart neckline trimmed in black lace, black wide leg trousers, chandelier earrings, and the perfect accessory – my insensible Betsy Johnson capiz shell encrusted stiletto heels.

Covered in a gorgeous pearlescent snakeskin and featuring dainty 4 inch heels, these shoes actually have to be positioned on my size 11 foot, rather than worn. At 6 feet tall, I don’t need the additional 4 inches the heels give me – in fact, I’m sure they make me look a bit freakish, but part of me is certain that the luxurious clicking of the capiz shells against the tops of my feet as I walk by tells everyone within earshot, “Hey, check out the sexy babe in the shoes.”

Realistically, I’m sure I teeter in my princess shoes rather than walk – like an elephant using toothpicks for stilts. I’m sure it’s ridiculous to behold me since, they’re technically a size too small so the normal balancing act one does in 4 inch heels is made all the more precarious with a bit of heel hanging over the back of the shoe – just enough to throw off my center of gravity and provide abundant opportunities for public humiliation.

(Did I mention that the restaurant we chose to dine in has notoriously over-lacquered, slick wood floors throughout?)

Within a few moments of arriving at the venue my princess shoes were beginning to take their toll on my feet. The projected 15 minute wait turned into 20 and then 40. The packed exterior bar was completely lacking in seating so we were forced to stand around a pub table, occasionally leaning in to alleviate some foot pressure. Just as I was starting to enter into panic mode planning Dick’s hasty retreat to the car to fetch my back-up shoes, the waitress called our party’s name. Entering the foyer, I clung to Dick’s arm like a blind person to the tether for their seeing-eye dog. In a hushed voice I warned him that our marriage was on the line if he allowed me to slip and fall on the highly polished floors.

A few steps from the hostess station, my princess shoes slipped across a particularly slick patch of lacquered flooring, nearly felling me into the ample cleavage of our gleaming hostess. Thankfully, Dick’s arm tensed in tune with my hydroplaning, acting as a counter-balance, and I was able to make my odd flailing look like more of a “hi, glad to see you” lean forward rather than a “can I see your tits up close, please?” borderline sexual assault.

With crisis narrowly averted I began to relax, thinking about the prospect only mere moments away of floating gracefully into my dinner chair, dining on delicious food and takin’ a load off my barking dogs – at least for an hour or so.

The busty hostess in her own princess shoes, teetered along ahead of our party, menus in hands. Just as she slowed to drop them on a nearby table, she abruptly changed course and steered our party towards the back of the restaurant. My mind reeled at the possibilities. Never did a restaurant seem more huge or more perilous. Trays of hot food, old people in walkers, drunken patrons – all significant obstacles to be navigated on their own, but only more perilous when one factors in the skating rink slick floor.

I realized that there was no way Dick could stand beside me all the way to the table; we’d have to go single file to get through the crowds. All he could do was follow closely behind me and play catcher in case I started to fall backward. But a spectacular side fall, split, or forward spill left me totally unprotected.

“Tiny steps, tiny steps, all the way there,” I repeated as I focused on wearing a “normal” expression to mask the immense focus required to stay upright.

Just as we made our final right turn towards the table, my left heel wobbled and then skidded ominously on the slick floor and I extended a hand, prepared to take a happy patron down with me if necessary. Behind me, the rest of our party followed, many of the women navigating the same dangerous curve with the utmost care.

Finally, the hostess was just ahead, placing our menus at our seats.

“Almost there…almost there.”


It wasn’t me. Another woman at the end of the aisle, wearing her princess shoes slipped and fell spectacularly into a table of diners.

Masking my horror with a veneer of non-chalance, I took my seat at the table and breathed a sigh of relief as I took a sip of my water and watched the chaos around me from the comfort of my new most favorite chair. I started to take another sip, but paused. To be on the safe side, I never took another sip of water that night. No need to tempt fate with a full bladder. A solo trip to the restroom was SO NOT going to happen in my princess shoes…


I’m glad to report that the evening was a success. I even made it back through the restaurant, and walked down to a nearby bar for drinks – all without incident. For a change, no major injuries were received and my princess shoes garnered several compliments from other ladies in the restaurant. Later, at home, I inspected the damage to my feet and learned I only had two tiny cuts from an errant capiz shell which became trapped next to my baby toe, aside from that, no spills, falls, slides, twists, dives, or blood-letting. Pretty impressive considering what I was up against as far as traffic obstacles. Like the regular guy who finally musters the courage to hit on the super hot girl – a girl who doesn’t necessarily welcome his advances, but doesn’t completely shut him down either – I feel emboldened by my latest encounter with the princess shoes. In fact, I’m already looking forward to the next time I can put on those fabulous, strappy shoes and get my princess on.

As for Tabitha, over her father’s objections I’ve been letting her wear her princess shoes to school with the understanding that she must have a pair of sensible, comfortable shoes in her backpack. Inevitably, she makes it to about mid-day in her princess shoes before she begins limping and her teachers force her to put on her back-up pair. Sometimes, I worry about the message I’m sending – that it’s okay to “suffer for beauty”. I mean, she’s 3; she’s got a few more years yet before the peer pressure sets in. Still, Dick worries that her princess shoes are really just training heels for stilettos, but I’m less pessimistic and more conflicted about the whole thing. I think all we can do as parents is try to lavish her with more praise for her sensible choices than we do for her charm and good looks, and hope for the best.

The allure of the princess shoes will be hard to combat with logic and words. Everytime she puts them on, the magical effects of self-confidence lights her delicate face, enhancing her already beautiful features. It’s clear to me that my princess and her shoes belong together and how beautiful she feels wearing them today, may play a bigger part in how she feels about herself tomorrow – bigger than my reassurances ever could. I only wish I knew which of my words, if any, are the magic words to make the pain of blisters or worse, the blistering pain of self-doubt disappear.

I’m always trying to forecast the effects of our parenting influence on our children – no doubt a futile grasp at reason amidst the insanity. All we can hope for is that, maybe, just knowing that Dick and I are her comfortable back-up pair who will keep her feet on the ground in whatever shoes she’s wearing.

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