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To Walk in His Shoes
I am walking down the runway- no strutting down the runway am walking down the runway- no strutting down the runway. My stomach is sucked in so tightly my abdominal muscles touched my spine. My back was straight, poised with natural confidence. My shoulder and hips swayed back and forth with a saucy attitude, cohesive to the funk-a-licious beat playing. Fashion critics and designers were awed by the vivid hues of my patterned shirt and matching aura. I approached the end of the catwalk and turned to go back stage.
I saw my bed room ceiling patterned by the water damage. “Come-on. We're going to be late,” Kelly said. The funky beat turned into my alarm clock beeping and then I re-entered reality. No longer was a fabulous male model, but a fashion student on his way to an interview for an internship at VOUGE MAGAZINE.
“We will just be fashionably late,” I said lackadaisically. My mind was still at the fashion show.
“There is nothing fashionable about being late,” Kelly said as she looked in the full length mirror, probably for the sixth time that morning. I would have found her really attractive- if I liked women. But Kelly was my best friend, and even if I were “normal” I suppose I wouldn't pursue her for that reason. She was my best friend ever since the first day of high school, as we were bonded by our unconditional love for fashion.
It was mind boggling to me how Kelly and I were so different yet so alike. If the All American girl became an ailment she could be the poster child. Kel looked like the girl you saw on every magazine cover: flawless skin, elliptical face, long blond hair, prominent eyes and lips. Despite her superior beauty she acted like the ideal pageant girl: eloquent, poised, respectable. Of course she foiled me, the flamboyant guy with an even more flamboyant wardrobe and sense of humor.
Eventually, I forced myself out of bed, and was rummaging through my closet to find a shirt that matched my new “Hush Puppy” shoes. After listening to Kelly scold me about punctuality, I threw on a black shirt with a pink pinstripe. I left the top two buttons undone. Kelly tousled my hair with her delicate fingers to find the perfect position for my bangs. We ran out the door. Well, Kelly sprinted in heels (a talent she has acquired from avoiding obnoxious men) and I lightly frolicked in my pink suede loafers.
We waited for the elevator to come. I tried to compliment Kelly on her ensemble; a purple mini dressed with silver plether boots and matching bangles. Kelly avoided eye contact in her passive aggressive revenge of the silent treatment. She was dismayed because we were running behind schedule. “Lighten-up. Remember, if a girl looks pretty who cares if she's late,” I pleaded. She smiled reluctantly. Then the smile turned into a laugh, and I knew Kelly was no longer anger.
Mr. Donavan opened his door to retrieve the daily paper. He wore nothing an old house coat, the same one he always wore. Mr. Donavan was a retired Businessman, who was on the pointless quest to woo Kelly. As he was bending over to reach the newspaper he not so subtlety winked at Kelly. Kel, who was always uncomfortable with Mr. Donavan's advances, instinctively looked away. I then winked back at him and made a clicking sound with my tongue. Mr. Donavan's face turned a bright red only Versace would use in her collection. He immediately slammed the door shut, with a big bang. I assumed he was ignorant enough to think that was one of “our” mating calls. No need to say he was un-accepting of my orientation. Kelly looked at me. I could tell she wanted to laugh but was looking for permission. I nodded and we chuckled in unison.
The pair of us arrived at the immense ivory tower five minutes later and 15 minutes behind schedule. The receptionist was much more pleasant then I envisioned. She directed us to an office down the hall.
The office had very trendy furnishings. Bright yellow chairs, green wallpaper and shag carpet added life to the otherwise typical room. Behind the desk sat a frail middle aged women in an over sized teal blazer. “Your late,” she muttered. By the tone of her voice I assumed she was one of the aloof fashion snobs. Although, I could have assumed that from the contour short black hair.
“My apologies. It won't happen again,” Kelly said well extending her hand. It was in Kelly's nature to be polite. I think it was from all those years of beauty pageants. The lady did not remove her eyes from her paper.
“That's if you are so lucky to get the opportunity to come back,” she said. Kelly looked traumatized. I speculate it was less from the lady's rudeness and more because Kelly seldom displeased anyone. People are normally nice to Kel, or at least tolerable to her because she is the perfect girl mauled by society. But I have dealt with bigger bullies before. “Anyhow. Let me examine your outfits. It's amazing how much you can tell about interns from their ensemble.” She scanned Kelly first. Her eyes started at the ground and worked their way up in till they made eye contact. Kelly looked like the uncomfortable monkey at the zoo that couldn't figure out why everyone was staring at it. Then she looked at me. I wasn't intimidated the slightest. “Remove your shoes. That shade of coral is atrocious,” she commanded.
“No” I answered defiantly. She gave me a look of disapproval, and wrote something on a pad of paper. Remembering that she controlled my fate, I gave an explanation. “You see, people tell me I am a freak- in more ways then one. Apparently I'm a freak because I have my own ideas; I have my own opinions. One of them is that fashion is more intrinsic then people think. What we wear should be an outwards reflection of our inner self. These shoes are exactly like me: overly flamboyant, eccentric, some could even say gay. But that's what makes them gorgeous. It has nothing to do with the fabric, or texture, or hue; it is the way they connect to the person who is wearing them. And I'm sure all the people who saw me walk here thought my shoes we an, “atrocious shade of coral.” But I'm happy with whom I am, and see no need in changing.”
I was not stopped by Kelly trying to make an excuse for my insolence ( I was actually surprised she hadn't). But the blazer lady started clapping. “I'm impressed.” My draw dropped. Kelly looked at me with a sense of pride normally reserved for mothers at their children's graduation. “You seem to have a refreshing take on what we at VOUGE should be accomplishing. But for future reference . While we are in this building, I'm head fashion freak. Don't be discouraged. But you must understand that your opinions, regardless of how interesting, are premature. You need more experience, experience I think you could get a VOUGE. So are you interested.”
On our way home from the interview I asked Kelly what she thought of my ode to eccentricity. She smiled, showcasing her adorable dimples. “I was proud, you have the courage I never had,” she said. I don't think she understood that she never told asserted herself because she had to. Ironically, it was the people who gave me hell for being who I am, that taught me how to stand up to ladies in teal blazers.
“We'll if we traded shoes for a day, you'd know where the courage came from,” I answered.
“Why don't we trade shoes right now- my heels are killing me,” She giggled with the most radiant smile. I looked down at my loafers and couldn't help to grin as well.