New York Times – published: September 20, 2003

There has been a lot of weather going on in New York this year, most of it wet. Not to mention the big blackout. What all these things had in common was the fact that it was almost impossible to deal with them in high-heeled shoes.

The fault, it seems, lies with Leonardo da Vinci. Though the evidence is not conclusive, some historians believe that Leonardo, the original Renaissance man, may have invented that most exquisite and ubiquitous of torture device, the high heel.

The height-enhancing shoes were an immediate winner with European royalty, both men and women. Centuries later, it’s everyday women who are footing the bill.

When the blackout occurred, shoe stores closed along with most other businesses, and women without flat, accommodating shoes faced a painful choice: risk blisters and other ailments while looking fabulous in Jimmy Choos, Manolo Blahniks or less-heralded push-up shoes, or pound the pavement in bare or stocking feet.

You cannot walk miles on squeezed and compacted tiptoes. Neither can you leap across a very large puddle in the more glamorous versions of the high heel, and we have spent a great deal of time with puddles this year. There have actually, when you think of it, been a relatively small number of days that didn’t cry out for second-best sneakers, or maybe designer galoshes. Having a pair of sensible shoes is like eating spinach, a commendable idea. But how often does a bowl of greens win out over a bowl of ice cream? High heels are an indulgence, one best enjoyed while sitting down, preferably in nonemergency situations.

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