I love imagining that one aspect of a person’s self-presentation might stand as a sort of metonym for the person, or, at least, for one way of seeing a person. I’ve previously written about how hair and smiles can serve this purpose for me, narratively. Not that I imagine a person’s hair can tell me all there might be to know about a person, but that it can be a fun writer-ly exercise to imagine it can. (My gentle form of objectification.)
Today, as my eyes respectfully drank in a beautiful woman, I found myself darting back and forth between her serious, unsmiling face, eyes resolutely forward, fending off all comers, on the one hand… and her shoes.
Her shoes are black flats. Sensible. Serious. They have a sort of gold trim around the sole. If I had to guess, I would say they’re off a rack at Century 21. Dull. Unpolished. Functional.
I’m not saying she is those things. What I imagine is that it’s hard work to be her. That she has a serious job. Not one that pays well, but one in which she works hard to do good. Managing people, efforts, projects. And that she’s tired. Not because she works too hard, but because her life has been a constant uphill struggle to be seen and related to for what’s between her eyes rather than what’s between her legs. Her shoes feel less expressive of her essence than of her attitude: for God’s sake, they say, we are SHOES. Stop looking at us.
And that seems fair.