Cumberland Times-News

October 26, 2013

Don’t understand? You still can learn from it

Jim Goldsworthy, Columnist
Cumberland Times-News

— One of my favorite commercials at this time features a man who is dressed like a ninja, tumbling and crawling and sneaking his way through a semi-darkened room that is crisscrossed by laser beams.

He makes it to a wall and reaches for a thermostat. Just as he touches it, all perdition breaks loose.

Alarms go off, an unseen force blasts him away from the wall, and a see-through cage of some kind falls from the ceiling and confines him.

“Really?” he wails. “It’s only two degrees!”

The scene shifts to the boudoir, where his wife is sitting up in bed, painting her toenails.

“It’s for my new shoes,” she says, “Honey!”

The expression on her face is ominous, to say the least. Even the Mountain Monster hunters, the Ghost Adventures crew or Scooby Doo and his buddies would get the whibbies. (How many scoundrels would have succeeded in their nefarious intent, had it not been for those meddling kids and their dog?)

I’ve seen the like of this expression on the faces of women, live and in person, and it has scared the hell out of me.

Exaggerated though the above scenario may be, a ring of truth is present.

Few men, if any, will ever understand the passion women have for their footwear ... let alone how women actually can walk in certain examples of what they call shoes.

I am convinced that high-fashion shoe designers hate women. Cage shoes? Seriously? Only a disturbed mind could conceive of something that looks as kinky and painful to wear as some of what I see on women’s feet.

A woman I know told me one of the two reasons women wear such shoes is to intimidate and impress other women: I have them, and you don’t.

My mother said that if shopping malls have accomplished nothing else, they’ve demonstrated to young women the value of wearing flat shoes. This was a woman whose arches were permanently molded into crescent moons by decades of wearing high heels.

Two of my lady friends once discussed shoes and all things that have to do with shoes, knowing that I was within earshot. They probably just wanted to talk about shoes and had no idea how the experience would intimidate me.

I would have a better chance of following a conversation between two nuclear physicists than I had of comprehending what those two women had to say about shoes.

Ah, but that’s how it is. It’s possible that they would have been equally lost while listening to their husbands and me talk about firearms, motorcycles or hot cars. (In which case — say it with me — the shoe would be on the other foot.) Or maybe not. Happily, some women are motorheads who like guns.

One of my favorite women-and-shoe stories came from the hostess of a party I attended. She didn’t understand why women found it so necessary to wear high-heeled shoes.

My feeling (which I shared with my father and other men I’ve known) is that nothing is more graceful or mesmerizing than a woman who knows how to walk in heels, and that the overall effect is unmatched by anything else in nature. (By the same token, few things are more clumsy than a woman who doesn’t know how to walk in heels.)

Women know this, which is the second reason they wear heels: I have this, and you want it.

But I didn’t tell my friend any of that. I just let her go on. She was vehemently, heart-attack serious about why high-heeled shoes are demeaning to women. I agreed with her.

Eventually, she walked off to get a drink. That’s when her husband came up to me and said, “Don’t pay any attention to her.”

He told me about the day they drove past a shoe store in Hagerstown.

She said she’d like to go in and see what they have, and he could get a beer at the bar that was conveniently located next to the shoe store.

He had a beer, and then another, and after the third he decided to go and see what was up with his wife, the shoe-shopper.

He found her at the cash register, ready to check out with a stack of shoe boxes that was almost as tall as she was (and she’s not a short woman).

“Every one of those boxes held a pair of high-heeled shoes,” he said.

By that time, his wife had returned and — with a wide, happy smile — confirmed every word her husband had told me.

Goldy’s Rule 149: The only thing a man can understand about women is that he will never understand anything about women. Rule 149b: What he must understand is that he will occasionally find himself in trouble with women — even those with whom he has no romantic involvement — for reasons he cannot understand. Rule 149c: A wise man can use his inability to understand women as a learning tool.

Here’s how this works:

A lady friend of mine wears open-toed shoes and, simply out of curiosity and to make conversation, I asked her if she changes the color of her toenails to match the color of her shoes — as they did that day.

“I hate toes,” she said. “Toes freak me out.”

I distinctly remember that things went blank for a moment.

She had more derogatory things to say about toes, but I don’t remember any of it because Rule 149 had kicked in and I realized that I was in over my head.

Likewise, my role in the conversation had ended, because I had no desire to inadvertently run afoul of Rule 149b.

How then does Rule 149c apply here? Let me explain.

My lady friend is no longer wearing open-toed shoes or sandals, nor are many other women I have observed. They are wearing boots.

Because of this, I have learned — and can say with considerable assurance — that fall has arrived and winter is just around the corner.