In keeping with this week’s theme of New York flashbacks, I asked my longtime friend and former roommate to share her favorite memory when we met for dinner on Saturday night.
“About me,” I added. As though that was ever in question.
She winced. “I don’t know that you’re going to like this.”
“Don’t say the time we danced on a bar,” I said. “I already have one of those.”
“No, I wasn’t going to say that,” she laughed. “I was thinking about your birthday. The one with the shoes.”
Oh yes, my 28th birthday. Best described as the night I lost half my dress in a crosswalk and fell in front of three lanes of stopped traffic. That’s way less embarrassing than dancing on a bar.
You might be wondering, What the hell kind of dress falls off while you’re crossing the street?
And I’ll tell you: A halter dress that someone decided to turn into a strapless by cutting the ties off with a pair of kitchen scissors just moments before she left her apartment.
Advice I needed yesterday: Don’t do that.
But I did. And that’s how I came to be sprawled across 10th Street, forced to choose between getting my top back in order and crossing the street before the light changed. It will come as a surprise to absolutely no one that I accomplished neither.
Fresh off the fall, I did what most women in my situation would do: I blamed my shoes.
They were a brand new pair of platform sandals that I bought specifically for that night. They were cute, to be sure, but they were also treacherously high. In fact, they were so unbearably uncomfortable and made me so ungodly tall, that I decided I probably wasn’t going to wear them again long before I crawled across 10th Street.
It was a decision I decided to see through at the end of the night, when my friend and I stopped at the bodega near our apartment for Gatorade and snacks.
“I can’t deal with these anymore,” I said as I took the shoes off and dropped them in the trashcan on the corner.
My friend stared at me, aghast.
It was then, as I stood barefoot on the sidewalk on the corner of 20th and 1st, that I had a moment of clarity. Not that I should put my shoes back on, mind you, but that I couldn’t enter the bodega without them.
“Can you get me an orange Gatorade?” I asked my friend. “Calorie free if they have it.”
She nodded and went into the store – without ever formally acknowledging the shoes, I might add – just as a girl who was crossing the street walked over to the garbage bin and picked the right sandal out.
“Are these yours?” she asked.
I looked around, as though there might have been another barefoot drunk girl that they belonged to.
“They’re beautiful,” she said. “I think you’re going to regret this in the morning.”
“Those shoes are dead to me,” I said. “You can have them if you want.”
She reached into the can to pull out the other one and looked at her boyfriend.
“Please don’t take those shoes,” he pleaded. “They’ve been in the garbage.”
And then, I swear, he cocked his head in my direction and gave her a look that said, “Do you want to be like her? Do you?”
“They’re new,” I insisted. “I only wore them once. But I don’t want them because I fell.”
She nodded knowingly, then turned to her boyfriend and said, “Well I don’t want them then. If she fell in them. They’re probably not comfortable either.”
The glare he gave her made me think that they weren’t going to make it as a couple. But that was neither here nor there because my roommate reappeared just then with two Gatorades and a bag of Doritos.
“Ready?” she asked, completely ignoring whatever fresh ruckus I was causing. “And do you want your shoes?”
“I want the Gatorade,” I said, taking a bottle out of her hand.
We made it home, almost in one piece, as we always did. And in the morning, I’ll have you know, I regretted nothing.
Not even the Doritos.