Joco Opinion

September 10, 2013

Denise Snodell — A manly Cinderella story

They say your feet continue to grow throughout life. But women’s shoe sizes don’t.

My youngest son is at least 6-foot-2 and probably still growing. The kid is perfectly proportioned. So naturally, it disturbs me that we wear the same size running shoe.

This startling fact crushed my self-esteem over the summer months, when I finally ended a long running hiatus. That’s how it goes with me. Silly injuries force me back to walking mode for long spans, and then suddenly, without prior warning, I burst out in a clunky run.

I was so happy to once again find myself moving at a “faster” pace, even though my size 11 ladies’ Nikes were feeling snug. (That’s right, 11. And snug.) I ignored the pain, mainly because stores don’t sell gal running shoes beyond the big one-one. I convinced myself I was imagining the tight fit. But within a week, I had terrible blisters on my big toes. Almost overnight one toenail — sorry about your breakfast — looked like it wanted to bail.

Something had to be done. I consulted my husband, who during his college years spent many hours selling top-of-the-line athletic shoes. He’s the guy whose state champ track record permanently hangs on his high school gym wall and who still runs like a speed demon in all extreme weather conditions. What I’m saying is, the man knows everything about running shoes.

Together, we took a trip to the sporting goods store with the monster inventory. We were prepared for a challenge. This might be because early in our marriage a shoe clerk of a now-defunct chain rudely dismissed me to a dusty, vertical display of larger sizes. My husband promptly dubbed this “The Freak Wall.” It’s been a “running” joke between us whenever I have any kind of sizing issue, including sleeve length problems or whatever. I’ll hear, “Shopping at The Freak Wall again!” He’s a riot, isn’t he?

In my defense, I’m a half foot taller than the average woman. If I had, say, size 7 feet, I would probably teeter every time I stood up. But one of us in this marriage finds it hilarious that I’m losing even more traction on the bell curve. For the record, my regular shoe size is now a nonexistent 10½ women’s, but you need to size up a bit for running shoes. (If you wear anything above size 10 in any female footwear category, manufacturers drop kick the half sizes. Why?)

So on this recent shopping expedition, I tried on every available women’s size 11 running shoe. All brands were too tight. And there were no twelves. (Twelves!) Either standards had just uniformly changed or my feet stretched a bit more. I prefer to think it was the former, but regardless, I had graduated to a zone beyond The Freak Wall.

I don’t know which one of us said it right there amidst all the pink and purple and pastel soles, but the following sentence was uttered: “Alright. Let’s look at the men’s shoes.” Fluorescent lights and full-length mirrors were shining at me from every direction, but it was my darkest retail moment. Man shoes. Crestfallen, I galumphed over to the guy side. My Prince Charming went into hunting and gathering mode. Bless his heart, he brought me every possibility in a new color wheel of gray, off-black, smoky steel, light gray, medium gray, charcoal gray and the occasional smattering of Gumby green. Money was no object. We found a perfect fit. They’re gray.

Here’s how I talked myself into these puppies. You know how the fashion industry has been encouraging women to wear the “boyfriend” fit? It’s “boyfriend jeans” this, “boyfriend blazer” that. Epiphany time.

I broke out these new titanium babies, my BOYFRIEND SHOES, several weeks ago. I was a new woman. I think my pace amped up a bit, but I can’t be sure, because on about Day 14 I took a hill too aggressively. I tore/pulled a calf muscle to the point where my shin and ankle showed some awful bruising.

This never would have happened had I been wearing fuchsia Nikes.

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