Patent Leather Heels

There are fault lines, I am finding out, between my generation and all others. And where I assumed there was commonality, there is, but only the thinnest shreds. What is coming my way is the benevolent indulgence of younger women for my having attitudes and behavior that hearken from another era.

Take the word cunt, for instance. After my post yesterday, The C-Word, I was gently schooled about how cunt-saying norms have changed. It’s common among younger women, I was told, very common in Europe and Australia. I had no idea. It’s still a word that is venomous to me, sickening, enraging but I guess I’m old school. Fine.

And bare legs with a dress and heels. It makes so much sense but it is so foreign. So I always wear pants. Until the other night when I wore a dress with a dynamite pair of new black patent leather heels with off-black hose and felt like a million bucks. That silky feeling, those perfect legs, the swinging foot.  It could have been 1990, it felt that great.

Wherever I go lately, it seems that I am the oldest person in the room. At an enormous luncheon a few days ago, I marveled at seeing a single other woman who possibly could have been my age. Everyone else literally could have been my daughter and some, with a few teen births here and there, could have been my granddaughters. In this environment, it seems like the world wants to pat my hand and tell me I am amazing for an older woman in much the same way that some men used to tell me I was pretty smart for a girl. I don’t resent either sentiment, oddly, I take them as compliments. People mean well. I think.

It is unsettling to realize that I am swimming further and further out of the mainstream. My sensibilities are dated. Everything about me that’s important started fifty years ago. Civil rights, anti-poverty, anti-war, women’s movement. The voices and people from that time are my icons and I roam through life like all that shit happened yesterday. I watched a documentary about the 60’s that featured Bobby Kennedy standing on the back of a car telling an enormous crowd of black people that Martin Luther King, Jr. had been killed and he did it with such enormous compassion and eloquence that the crowd came together and it seemed like it happened yesterday. I still believe all the things he said. It’s what I carry in my soul purse, if you will. But it is an old, old purse. I am just now realizing that I have one goddamn very old purse.

My mother’s old purse was the Depression. The making-do, the darning, the potato soup, the endurance, the never complaining., the waiting for catastrophe. And the seams. Her seams were always straight and her slip never showed.

No one wears a slip anymore.

17 thoughts on “Patent Leather Heels

  1. Paula Lucey

    I was talking to someone about the Bradley Center. There does not seem to be much respect for the great things that happened to Milwaukee because that building was built and Bucks were here. I feel the same way about the old county hospital. But the point of my comment is that people quickly forget the shoulders they stand on today. Want to use a nasty word… okay… just take a minute to remember how you even got the opportunity to leave the kitchen, much less go to Europe and Work where you want to work and earn what you are worth ( well almost) and have some control of your C.

    Thank the people who got you there. Thank the shoulders. Then said what you want and consider what shoulders you are leaving.


  2. Paula Lucey


    I was at UWM graduation a few weeks ago. All the professors including me had on flats and all the students had on darling heels. All the professors were drooling. I still get together with the nurses that I started working with in 1976. We have been thru boy friends, husbands, babies, degrees, promotions, divorces, new husbands, big promotions, … now we talk who has had what body part replaced! Knees, hips, shoulder?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A soul purse. There were so many things in this post that I was nodding my head to, recognizing and agreeing, but that bit about the old purse…I immediately felt the weight on my shoulder. I still have a half-slip in my drawer. It’s probably a priceless antique, now. And yes, the c-word is vulgar. I cuss a lot but will never use that word. I don’t care who feels it’s in common usage, it’s cruel.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Jan

    I want to hit the “like” button for this post and for virtually every comment, but it somehow doesn’t want me to do so without logging in to a blog I don’t have. So, Like, Like, Like, Like, especially you, Jan, and DearMaizie.
    I’m a bit younger than you (62) but more and more often feel exactly as you wrote here; my thoughts and reactions and values are finally out of date. Maybe because we rode the baby boom crest for so long, where everything we thought/etc was the rule, we’re spoiled. Or maybe we’re just, finally, old.

    That said, vulgar is vulgar, hate-words are hate-words, and degrading another woman is never ok. It begs of the “can’t you take a joke” excuse.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Sorry it’s a hassle to do the like button but this way I got your great comment instead! Agree with what you said – I guess it’s sort of the first time it’s sinking in that my views aren’t the defining views. It’s an ‘oh, my’ moment for sure. But interesting.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. Because there’s nothing like an old fool, I just had to come back and comment again on your c-word piece because I’m left with the impression you’re looking for somewhere to ditch your old purse or, at least, hide it in the top of the closet.

    Please don’t. Because it’s full of experience and hard-fought wisdom and scars that make it possible for younger women to advance beyond the battles of our generation. Just because someone younger thinks it doesn’t have value doesn’t make it so. Just because someone 40 declares a vulgar, demeaning word doesn’t mean what us old folk think it means anymore doesn’t make it true or right or hip or *au courant* or whatever else other social media meme they think describes their awesome insight and epic global sophistication.

    As for the word being used commonly in Europe and Australia, that’s just an excuse. Also, I’m sure E&A have plenty of little cultural incongruities we Americans don’t have. And, if I ever go to Europe or Australia I’ll keep that in mind. Here, that’s not a cogent argument for using a word that is pure and simple a slur meant to slap a woman back into submission. As I said in my previous comment, there’s a reason vulgarity is a word still in the dictionary. The c-word is vulgar. That will never change. And you were right, Samantha was full of hatred when she decided to use it because she was looking for a surefire way to hurt Ivanka trump. She’s a comedian, after all. Attention is her bailiwick. She conjured the most awful, degrading, hate-filled word she could think of to hurt someone else and in the bargain she ended up offending millions of women, women like you and me, who *know* what that word means and degrading herself in the long run. If it was so mainstream, so acceptable, she wouldn’t have used it. She wanted a weapon and that’s the one she chose.

    After I read this latest post of yours, I went on my merry morning reading way and landed at DailyKos, where I read cartoonist Jen Sorensen’s post, “Cartoon: The life cycle of a slur.”

    What interested me more than the cartoon were the comments. Read them. They say it much better than I can.

    And put that purse back on your arm. And, hey, your slip is showing.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I see you just stuck your toe in the water of old. You’ll get used to the strong undercurrent. Don’t drown yourself trying to swim like the other fish.

    I retweeted your c-word piece because I feel the same way you do and I’m sure a lot of other women do, too. Just because someone younger accepts it and says it doesn’t make it true, does it? There’s a reason vulgarity is a word.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Chris McLaughlin

    I knew about the Brit/Aussie fondness for calling everyone they don’t like (and sometimes do like) cunts, but not the generational one. But then, I’ve been schooled harshly for thinking and saying that sex work is not just another career choice, a notion many younger women seem to hold. And that being the oldest woman in the room…so often. I can’t imagine being out of the workplace where I still have a place, however small. But then I guess we start showing up other places. Or more and more, really see each other.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Love this.

    I turn 61 this week and suddenly look old (i.e. my age) after decades of looking a good decade younger than my age. Also really really sick of the endless Boomer bashing I hear incessantly from younger women — as if Boomers had such an awesome experience of law, work, marriage, reproductive rights. I tune out more and more.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Garry Armstrong

    I am thinking of Shelley Winters’ Bio and her description of her stiletto heels and their purpose. I cannot repeat her description of the purpose of those shoes. This is a PG site.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Garry Armstrong

        Okay, Jan, you know what Shelley Winters said about her stilletto heels. I frequentl;y have a “brain flash” when I see someone wearing them. During my working years, women reporters wore sneakers in the newsroom. Threw on heels when they were racing out for the story and camera “face time”.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I was pondering the other day if it was time for me to stop wearing T-shirts with quirky sayings, or quotes from sci-fi films, or micro brewery logos emblazoned across the front. I’m 61. When will I grow up?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Garry Armstrong

      Nana, I have a habit of trying to read quirky tee-shirts. Sometimes, my peek is misunderstood and I have to explain I was actually READING the tee shirt.

      Liked by 1 person

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