Thursday, February 17, 2011

Confessions of a Vintage Shoe Fetishist

by Stephen J. Gertz

Keep your Manola Blaniks, Giuseppi Zanottis, your Dolce & Gabbanas. When I need to snuggle up and spoon I go for vintage, old-fashioned ladies' shoes. It's like collecting rare books: Modern Lit. or Antiquarian? I prefer a shoe that's been around the block, is experienced and has character. They don't make 'em like they used to. As far as I'm concerned, they stopped making shoes when Chronos hit the twentieth century.

Tonight, I've taken six of my favorites out of the Holy Closet of Holies, my inner sanctum of footwear du femme, for an evening of pleasure, just me and my little pretties, menage a sept, alone at last.

Check out the lines on this black beauty. You don't need horse-sense to see its appeal: Sleek in fine silk that when light strikes at the right angle seductively shimmers and entices. Irresistible! And the heavenly flare of the heel as it touches the pillow I pose it on...A goddess upon a velvet pedestal, is it not so? I admit that there are times when, after gazing upon it with all the love a man can have for ladies' footwear, I lose control, madly grab it, grope to my heart's content, and sigh with the greatest of satisfaction.

Oh, how often have Miss Frilliest and I spent a quiet evening at home, curled up by the fireplace. a brandy in one hand, her in the other. I love it when a woman's shoe wears a mini-skirt - so above the heel risqué! And, aren't you, as I am, tempted to lift it to spy what delights lie underneath? Don't get me started on the needle-work on the toe. I LOVE tattooed ladies.

Provenance is everything, I believe, and when I raise her to my nose and gently inhale the scent sends me, and I become Proust in remembrance of pumps past, this pump in particular, and thank my lucky star that anti-fungal and anti-bacterial foot-care products once had no place in society's upper strata. I prefer the natural aroma of plantar fascia against leather - aged and fermented to perfection. Like a great wine, a great shoe must have a great nose. Notes of goatskin, chocolate,  peat moss, mango, rich loam, horse manure, cigars, shmütz, toe cheese, and talc - I frolic in the Elysian Fields; I can't help it. It tells you where a shoe has been, and I am often  lost in a reverie while contemplating a  lady's tumescent foot boldly inserting itself into the warm inner shoe over and over again, what that foot must feel, and what Miss Frilliest felt to be so filled to fullness. I get all pumped-up. Sue me.

Not a pump, not a slipper, it's my flat-bottomed land-gondola with heel as rudder, and I often imagine that I'm standing at its stern, oar in hand, as I serenade it and, by extension, all ladies' shoes with "O Solé Mio." Just because I'm a Vice-President of the Literary and Antiquarian Society of Perthshire &c. &c. doesn't mean I don't get lonely. So lonely. Call me Shoeless Joe from Kokomo, a tragic figure in my own psychodrama.

I like womens shoes the way I like my women. Sturdy. Dependable. Silent. A bit stout. I don't trust a pump that isn't a little plump; too lean and it's clearly not enjoying  life to the fullest. I like a shoe that  has meat on its bones and leaves a big footprint - on  my  chest, back, whatever; 'makes  no  difference to me.  Check-out that strap and stiletto toe! I get shivers as I worship. Excuse me while I retire to the throne room to, uh, genuflect.

Ditto the above with this fine lady who dares red. Le plus passionnés! We all know the symbolism of red lipstick. 'Goes double with red heels. "I am woman shoe, hear me roar, in plus-size too big to ignore, and I know too much to go back and pretend. 'Cause I've heard it all before and I've been down there on the floor and no one's gonna keep me down again."

Not if I can help it, mon cher.

Finally, la piece de resistance in whose presence I am powerless to resist, possessing all the qualities I most admire plus a demure, low-key color that purrs, "I'm cool on the outside but a tigress on the inside."

To worship and adore that which comes between a lady and the floor is a religion not easily converted to. We are the few, the proud, and, thus chosen, just trying to be all that we can be. It ain't easy being Shoeish.

Oh, I hear your tittering and muffled chuckles. I suppose I should be embarrassed. I'm not. Some neurologists have suggested that shoe fetishism is caused by the feet and the genitals occupying adjacent areas of the somatosensory cortex, possibly entailing some neural crosstalk between the two. No surprise to me. I've been listening to them chat for as long as I can remember and I can't get enough of it. I love dirty talk.

Now, excuse us, please - time for a little quality-time, enfin seul!

GREIG of Glencarse, T. Watson, A Vice-President of the Literary and Antiquarian Society of Perthshire &tc. &c. Ladies' Old-Fashioned Shoes. With Eleven Illustrations from Originals in his Collection. Edinburgh: David Douglas, 1885. First edition (2d, 1900). Oblong quarto. 9 text pp. Eleven chromolithographed plates.

Colas 1312. Lipperheide 1744. Hiler p. 395

Images courtesy of Marilyn Braiterman Antiquarian Bookseller, who is currently offering this rare volume.

Photo credit: Fang-Ling Jong.

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