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Gill knows that one of my favorite episodes of Sex and The City is the one where Carrie wears her latest pair of expensive Monolos to a party and is horrified to discover that the hostess is a germ freak and demands that all guests take off their shoes upon entering her home. Carrie rails against this since she has chosen her shoes to complete the outfit and almost walks out in protest. Gill thinks this behavior is ridiculous. I think the tantrum was totally justified.

When I agreed with Carrie, albeit for slightly different reasons, Gill mocked me.

“It’s only a pair of shoes!” Gill complained. “Really, Ma? You’re that vain? Who was the one always telling us appearances don’t matter as much as what’s inside?”

“True…and if applied to a person’s character and heart, I stand by my words. But in this case, it’s what’s inside the shoes that I have a problem with. In my case, if I take off my shoes, I am exposing myself to ridicule and derision, and the rest of the guests to crooked toes, curled-under toes, broken toes, bunions, calluses, any manner of foot deformity. Do you really think I want to spend all the time getting ready, trying to look my best, only to have my feet be the only thing people remember? Shoes are my friends, my salvation, my accomplice…saving me from a world of shame. I need them to save me from insecurity.”

Gill always shook her head, not able to understand my point of view. And then it happened. Last week, she attended a party with her new co-workers in Bristol. She walked in to discover that the house rule was ‘no shoes’ past the foyer. Gill was mortified — for, under her boots was hidden her shame. Her tights had multiple holes in the toes. As she pointed out to me, they were fine from the knees to the ankles but the feet were an embarrassment. They were old and, like many of us who want to be thrifty, she kept them to wear under pants for extra warmth or under dresses when wearing boots. Perfectly sensible. Who among us (besides any guys reading this) doesn’t keep a supply of old bras that have lost their elasticity and have turned grey, old underwear (I’d say ‘panties’ but Gill hates that word) that is stretched, also grey and bears no resemblance at all to the sexy stuff we feature for important dates and yes, pantyhose with rips and holes in them? We do that to be cheap, practical, and since nobody else will see them, our real selves. We can look like Princess Kate on the outside but Trailer Trash Sally beneath. Sorry, Kate…no offense intended. But you get my drift.

“Ma, I panicked! I didn’t want my new colleagues to think I have no class!” Gill moaned.

“Oh, I doubt they’d think that, dear. But I’ll bet they are relieved that they hired somebody whose loyalty and productivity will be unquestioned since you obviously need the job! Nothing screams poverty like holey socks. Apart from that, I fear I taught you nothing when you were young. Holes in your clothes? Really? Or at least, if you do have holes, make sure they’re only where the sun don’t shine…unless you’re on a hot date, in which case all bets are off. Absolutely NO HOLES anywhere then! Think Brigitte Jones…remember how embarrassed she was when Hugh Grant’s character discovered her stretched-out granny pants? Let that be a life lesson to you.”

“Ma, you’re losing the plot. It was just toe holes on my feet.”

“Yes, dear, but aren’t you the one with toe fungus and athlete’s foot? And people worry about Ebola? Ha! The shit you have on your feet is more easily transmittable than that.”

“Thanks, Ma. I love you too…”

“Don’t be so serious…I was just getting back at you for all the comments about me not wanting to remove MY shoes at parties. It’s just that, if I’ve put together an outfit with care, I don’t want to have the ‘jewel’ in the crown taken away, so to speak. It ruins the entire effect. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.”