Monday, May 30, 2011

Head over Heels

By: Jennifer Huffman | Posted: Sunday, May 29, 2011
Napa Valley Register

Our middle daughter had been begging for her first pair of high heels for a while now, but as her eighth-grade graduation got closer, her high heel campaign became a full-on assault.

I tried to convince her she didn’t need to wear high heels, but she wasn’t having any of it. The girl wanted heels and she wanted them bad.

I was still holding my ground about heels when a letter arrived from school about the eighth-grade graduation dress code.

Shoes with heels two inches or less are acceptable, it said.

The two-inch rule was apparently the result of an incident at a past eighth-grade graduation, which may or may not be an urban legend of the middle school set.

As the story goes, one year a student wore a pair of extra-high heels to the school graduation ceremony. Going down the aisle to collect her diploma, she teetered… she tottered… and then she fell.

Thus the two-inch heel rule was born, effectively crushing the high heel dreams of all eighth-grade girls to follow.

My daughter triumphantly waved the letter at me. Resistance was futile. We headed to the mall for shoe shopping.

First of all, finding a pair of high heels under two inches is harder than it sounds. There are a lot of high heels out there, but most of them are two and a half inches or higher.

At Macy’s, she picked up one pair of heels.

I like these, she said.

Eyeing them, I could tell they were probably too tall, but I knew better than to ask a teenager to take my word for it.

I pulled out a tape measure.

My daughter held up the shoes.

The verdict: Two and a quarter inches.

I think it would be OK, my daughter said confidently.

Not so fast, I said. The previous week another eighth-grade mom told me the tale of her own daughter’s high heels. Just a smidgen over two inches, she took the shoes to the school principal for inspection. The principal must have had her own ruler because, alas, the heels were rejected.

School rules, I said. Two inches it is.

We moved on to a shoe store called Waltz.

Waltz was filled with shoes in every color, pattern and heel height. There were the tallest, spikiest heeled shoes I’d ever seen, let alone worn. There were cute little flats and shoes with flowers, leopard print, gems and rhinestone dangly bits.

This was the Jersey Shore of shoe stores. It was the gaudy cousin of Payless Shoe Source. Better yet, most of the shoes at Waltz were priced at $25.95 or less.

This is the place, I told my daughter. Get over there and pick out some shoes.

She circled a row of three-inch heels.

I held up the tape measure.

She rolled her eyes.

After a few more minutes, she picked up a pair of faux patent leather heels with a peep toe.

Those are cute, I said.

Measure it, she demanded, holding the shoe out to me.

They were two and a quarter inches.

No good, I said. They might be OK for church or a school dance, but not for graduation, I said.

She sighed a heavy sigh.

After much frowning and arm folding, she tentatively picked out another equally cute pair of peep-toe shoes. Out came the measuring tape. This time we had better luck. They were one and a half inches tall.

Perfect, I said.

I like them, she admitted. If I can’t have that other pair for graduation, these are nice, she said.

I silently said a prayer of thanks to the shoe gods.

Brightening a bit, my daughter carried her box to the register.

“Do you want to buy a second pair for half off?,” the helpful salesgirl asked.

My daughter looked at me with puppy dog eyes.

I looked back at her. Our almost–high school girl was growing up, heels or not.

Go get them, I said.

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