by Joanie Fuller

I have been buying dance shoes for the past four years. I never thought they would become a symbol of my progress, but many of them have. Each pair has its own story. I won 1st Place in my white shoes. They’re the plain and simple Novice jobs guaranteed to give you a humble appearance. They were right with me throughout the whole dance and I respect them for that. They brought me fifteen minutes of fame and a chance for a spotlight dance captured on video, along with some cash and prizes.

I moved on to a pair with a little glitter since that big 1st Place win gave me the excuse I needed to reward myself. With these shoes I won a big Intermediate 2nd Place. Yet, that wasn’t enough. I heard about a guy in Burbank who designs shoes. So, I made the two hour trek to Burbank to see George. George doesn’t speak English very well but I communicated my needs. His favorite expression was, "No prrrrrrrroblem." Well, it is a problem if he sends you someone else’s shoes. Eventually, we worked these problems out. It was great wearing shoes specially made for my own feet.

Did I stop there? Of course not! I then bought some Austrian crystals to adorn the heels and eventually they brought me a whopping 5th Place in the Novice Division at the Phoenix Convention in ‘97. They’re my favorite shoes to be worn only with pants since skirts just don’t look right with these clunkers. Let’s admit it ... comfort comes from those ugly, simple shoes.

I recently ordered a new pair of kicks from a catalog. They have nice thick cushioning for those wimpy little tootsies that just can’t seem to cope with all the pounding and they’re worn by all of those "in the know." Even before the catalog kicks could be delivered, I purchased a new pair at the Phoenix convention. They were beckoning me from the counter. "Hello," they said, "See me sparkle? I’ve caught your eye, haven’t I? Go ahead, just try and walk away without me." Needless to say, I couldn’t. I purchased them in spite of the fact that they were two different sizes. After all, they were ON SALE.

For once, having two different foot sizes paid off. They fit great. Isn’t it a miracle that each shoe landed on the foot with the matching measurement? These are now my most current "magic" shoes. And at half-price how could I go wrong? The moment I slid my bruised and battered feet into these shoes my dance career took a jolt forward. I felt like a princess wearing a glass slipper. These shoes gave new meaning to bibbity-bobbity-boo! Please don’t tell me it’s my imagination. Why are some shoes so magical and others not?

I’ve noticed that the lower heels make me feel quite short. Could this be because I’m only 5’2"? I hate to feel too short. A few years ago, I started with 2-1/2" heels and when I realized that my little dogs were barking so loudly that I couldn’t hear the music, I went down to a more "sensible" heel. After seeing myself on video and noticing that I looked like a frump in these shoes, I convinced my feet that they don’t hurt THAT much. I graduated back up to 2" heels. I counted my shoes the other day and I have about 20 pairs. Some heels are so high that when I wear them I resemble Carol Burnett in the skit where she plays Ms. Wiggins, the incompetent secretary, whose center point of balance placed her butt out so far that you could use it as a sofa.

Then there’s my favorite "boondoggle." I thought I could match Oleg Cassini when Burbank George said, "Design your own shoe." So I took a heel from a comfort shoe, a strap from a dainty shoe, and picked silver leather to cover them. I can still hear my husband laughing when I opened the box and unwrapped these little foil numbers. They look like silver submarines lit up like Las Vegas. So I’m not a designer, OK? They’re still in the box waiting for that special moment. Maybe a moment when everyone else is too drunk to notice!

Each pair of my shoes transforms my personality. Some make me feel like a dance queen while others make me feel like my Nana. When I feel like Nana I want to grab a black kerchief, take a bus, and sit in church for an hour. Dominus! The little fat frump shoes are perfect for that occasion, especially when the strap is so tight it produces that bulging "little old lady with fat feet" look.

What to do. I want to be an elegant dancer, but finding the right shoe is a problem. It’s a psyche thing. Pretty feet, pretty me, pretty me, pretty dancing, pretty dancing, big winner, big winner, big plaque, big plaque, some money ... any amount of money is OK with me. More shoes!

Hey, George! One more serving of magic please for one little princess with quick feet! Oh by the way, you design them this time, OK?