I buckle the ankle straps on my Joan Crawford-style 3-inch high-heel shoes. I love these shoes. They represent glamour and romance and fun. I’m 77 and I’m not supposed to wear high heels. “They’re not age-appropriate, Mom,” my daughter Bonny says.
I don’t believe in “age appropriate.” Age is a gift and a time to be and dress and say what you feel.
Anyway, I’m ready. I’m excited about tonight. I’m on my way to my friend Holly Blum’s 75th birthday party at a swank Russian restaurant. Tonight Holly is introducing me to a widower. I still hold that dream that I’m going to meet my Jewish Heathcliffe. I drape the black silk shawl from India around my bare shoulders, perfect with my short black dress. Carefully, so as not to fall, I hurry down a flight of stairs and outside to my waiting taxi.
The driver is on his phone talking in a foreign language, driving like a maniac. “Please sir. Slow down. I hurt my back.”
“Lady,” he shouts. “I have to earn a living!”
Shaking from the ride, I arrive at a beautiful Russian restaurant with a gold roof and marble floors.
Inside, the room is a glow of candlelight. An ensemble plays sensual, Jewish Russian love songs. It’s so dark I blink, trying to focus, and, careful about depth perception, push myself through the crowd. It’s a big crowd.
Holly is a well-known therapist, and all these brainy looking women are wearing arty ethnic necklaces, and the men are wearing suits and ties. There are huge posters of Holly on the walls, and a video screen streams pictures of her at various stages of her life: a 16-year-old beauty queen, on the trampoline at gymnastic class, a radiant bride at her wedding.
I make my way to the bar. “Vodka shot, three green olives please,” I say.
On my second vodka shot and feeling no pain, really happy, I make my way through the crowd, greeting friends, everyone air kissing and repeating “75 is the new 50,” stuff like that. Couples are slow dancing, with dreamy looks on their faces. Most of the couples look as if they’ve danced together for years.
Holly is wearing a bright red, off-the-shoulder dress, matching her red hair piled high on her head. She introduces me to Myron Ackerman, a spidery thin man with a narrow face. Then Holly disappears.
“So I hear you’re an … environmentalist?” I ask.
He nods. “I research climate control.” His small gray eyes are checking me out.
“Nice shoes,” he says. “Most women your age don’t wear such high heels. They fall and break hips.’’
“What does age have to do with shoes?’’
He laughs. When he laughs you can’t see his teeth, his lips close in a line. “You’re funny.’’
“So, climate control,” I say, irritated by his ageism. “I can’t stand hot weather. Not in my native San Francisco. I grew up with fog and wind and rain. Heat is for the swamps in Florida.‘’
“Hot, shmot,” he interrupts with an unpleasant frown. ‘’It doesn’t matter. Asteroids are about to wipe us out.’’
‘’We’re all going to die soon by asteroids.”
“I prefer not to worry about it.”
He continues to rant about the friggin’ asteroids and that we’re all going to die soon and what good is love when it dies so soon. Every second he snorts and sprays this asthma medication up his nose.
“Well, I believe in — ‘’
“Shoes,” he says nastily. Then he departs.
The music is gorgeous. I’m standing here, swaying to the music, loving the night, loving the joy on Holly’s face and the guests’ corny “Happy Birthday” speeches every minute. And then the music plays Holly’s favorite song, “It Had To Be You.” God, it’s romantic.
“Care to dance?” asks this tiny man with a huge hump in his back.
He puts his arms around my waist.
I don’t know where to put my hand … on the hump? Oh dear, but the man is graceful and can dance and leads me into a kind of four-step with dipping and swaying, and my high heels are making these clicking sounds. And I’m humming, and when I close my eyes the ceiling goes around. Geez it’s great. I’m having a great time, and still believe the one will show up. Especially when I’m in my high heels! I’m going to wear high heels forever.