I have a bit of a thing about footwear. My epitaph will probably read, "she shopped at Bally." The obsession started at school. My feet grew long before the rest of me - I had size seven shoes when I was still under five feet tall - and I swore I would never be seen in anything like a Clark's sandal in later life. I have bought impractical shoes at every available opportunity since adolescence, and now have enough pairs to kit out all the prostitutes in a West End nightclub. I can't hold a candle to Imelda Marcos, but then again I don't have the gross national product of a third-world country to finance my habit. Most women have one, maybe two pairs of black heels; I have nine. My shoes come in patent snakeskin, Catholic-schoolgirl patent, studded, embroidered, buckled, laced, astrakhan and plain for funerals. This is besides the cerise ones, the purple and green suede, the cream canvas with Lurex baguettes, the Smartie-print, the silver-and-gold, the mischievous-expressioned tigers. And that's just the stilettos.
But the Weitzmanns are something special. Stuart Weitzmann shoes have a certain standing as cultural icons because they are the footwear choice of the New Jersey gangster's wife. People produce wads of cash from Weitzmann boxes in Goodfellas.
This particular one is probably the ultimate tart's shoe. While it's a normal black court from the front, a side view reveals a four-inch heel made of an octagonal cylinder of gilt-covered steel. Very aggressive, impossible to run in, excellent for opening wine bottles - and when you dance in them, you have to do it on the spot and put all the movement into your hips. They called to me from a window in a sale. "Serena," they said, "we may cost over pounds 100, but we are yours. Together we will conquer the world." So I bought them.
Then the other night, Single White Female was on the telly. In the film, Bridget Fonda's lodger, Jennifer Jason Leigh, gradually usurps her landlady's haircut, clothes, social life and identity. Naturally, she's a psycho, which leads to murder, in which, during a row with BF's wimpy boyfriend, JJL slips off her shoe and whacks him through the eye with the heel. Now, watching this on video, I was struck by the familiarity of the shoe in question. I rewound, replayed, nipped to the spare room to check out my four-tier shoe rack and came back in a state of high excitement. My favourite shoes were the same pair Jennifer Jason Leigh uses to off the paramour.
Well, this was obviously too golden an opportunity to pass up. Having strutted around the flat in a state of rapture, I awaited my chance to take on the outside world. There wasn't anything going, partywise, for a week or so, and I was a bit overexcited by the time I finally got to spike my way round someone else's parquet. I wore black and painted my hard-gnawed fingernails gore-red for the occasion.
And the thing is, of course, that men, bless 'em, while having many plus points, such as understanding the terms of the GATT agreement and being able to keep themselves amused for hours quoting Dennis Hopper's "Sicilians got nigger blood" monologue from True Romance, are easily threatened. Their linear thought patterns can be literal to the point of autism. Most of those occasions are associated with women. It doesn't take much to make them show the whites of their eyes.
My first victim was standing by the Austrian blinds with a cocktail sausage between thumb and index finger. "Hello," I said, and launched into my theme. "Have you seen my shoes?" "No." I showed him. "These," I said, "are the same shoes Jennifer Jason Leigh uses to kill the boyfriend in Single White Female." He took a bite from his little sausage. "Oh, yes?" he said. "How does she do that, then?" "She rams it through his eyeball. He drops dead on the spot." He paused, sausage halfway to his mouth. "Excuse me," he stuttered. "My wife looks like she might need rescuing over there."
I turned to a more robust-looking soul in a leather jacket. Gave him my line. He paled. Launched into a dissertation on the works of Jacques Derrida. Introduced me as fast as he could to a man called Spike, which seemed a perfect intro for a chat about the lethal qualities of the stiletto. He said he thought Bridget Fonda was sweet, and had I met Dave? Dave said he didn't like high heels and his girlfriend had given up wearing them. Then they started talking about goal averages and I fell asleep.
The moral of the story is that I may have failed to score, but I found a soul mate. A designer specialising in Louis XV interiors. I had given up trying to flirt and was sitting on a window seat with my friend Philippa discussing 'flu symptoms when the man sitting on my other side touched my arm. "I couldn't help noticing your shoes," he said. "Where did you get them?" I filled him in on tarts' shops in South Molton Street. "And tell me," he said. "Is it my imagination, or are they the same ones she kills the man with in Single White Female? Bet you've been scaring the daylights out of the boys. They must think you're about to get them in an armlock."
I fell in love. We talked till dawn about serial murder and Brad Pitt and the cost of red damask. We have a date next Tuesday. I'm introducing him to Afghan food, and he's introducing me to his boyfriend and his sister. In the end, not every frog thinks it's a princeReuse content