One of the prompts from Cricket’s Slice Of Life this week is a moment of failure.
Here’s my tale of woe –
It was the stilettoes that did it. Led to my moment of failure. Bubblegum pink tools of the devil.
During my Senior Year of High School the Design class decided to put on a fashion show to raise money for charity. My friend Jules asked me if I would model one of her outfits. I was flattered to be asked, I mean, what 17-year old girl doesn’t dream of a girlie modeling moment? So I agreed.
But a few days before the show I began to get cold feet. Actually, my feet were more numb than cold because my circulation had gone haywire from walking in those damn stilettoes. They pinched at the toes, they rubbed the ankles raw and walking in them was as easy as balancing on a tightrope after consuming half a bottle of vodka.
Yes, it is true, I have never been able to walk in heels.
This is me in stilettoes:
shuffle shuffle stagger
shuffle shuffle teeter
shuffle shuffle fall over (usually with my skirt halfway up my back, thank God
I always wear sensibe underwear)
Some of the people I admire most in this world can work it in stilettoes. My friend, Mel is one. She sashays in those 6 inch heels like she is walking on air. My Mum is another. She can dance the foxtrot in them. I have heard that Sarah Jessica Parker can run a couple of kms through the streets of Manhattan in her Manolo Blahniks. Modern marvels all.
But me, well, that’s a different story. I can stand in them. Truth be told I look quite good in them. As a gay friend of mine once said to me : ‘They do make your calves look rather shapely.’ Until he saw me attempt to move forward in them. ‘But for Pete’s sake, don’t walk in them.’
Jules made a very trendy, 1980s style dress a´la Vivienne Westwood. It was blue and pink with a yellow tartan sash, a white bodice and shoulder pads. It looked good, trouble was Jules had left finishing the dress until the last minute and stitched me into it. It was extremely fitted. I looked like an extra in a Spandau Ballet video. Walking was difficult in the dress even without the stilettoes.
Somehow – I think I was transported there by some unseen force, maybe the spirit of fashion – I made it on to the catwalk. The music started blaring – Human League, I think – and someone pushed me forward. Told me to strut my stuff. I tried, I really did. I imagined how Elle Macpherson would do it or Linda Evangelista. I even had the pose down pat where you pause at the end of the catwalk with your hand on your hip and pout at the audience. But it wasn’t meant to be.
Ever felt like you were going to fall before you actually did? Ever known that no matter what you do your ass is going to hit the ground? You brace yourself for the point of impact, for the deafening ring of humiliation in your ears, hoping for a miracle. But, alas, miracles and modeling just don’t mix.
I managed to walk ten steps. The ten wobbliest, yet proudest steps of my life. For ten steps I owned that catwalk. I was working it, baby.
And then it all went horribly wrong. I lost my balance. Stepping forward into nothing, knees buckling, ankles bending, falling, falling, falling, flat on my face.
There was a gasp, a collective quiver. I swore, I moaned, I wished I could sink into the floor. My time as a model was over before it had begun. My moment of failure was stark. And then a friend in the audience began to laugh, winked at me, and I began to giggle. Jumping to my feet, I held the offending stilettoes aloft and finished my strut down the catwalk, complete with pouty pose. There was a resounding cheer, a round of applause and the show went on as normal.
I’ll never forget my initial humiliation and the sense of failure I felt as I was falling. But I’ll also never forget how a wink from a friend restored my sense of humour and allowed me to press forward. I guess what it means is that sometimes even when you think you are failing, you are actually succeeding – at making the best of a situation. And that is just as important as being able to walk a straight line in stiletto shoes.