OMG. Shoes.

By Megan Robb

The notion that all women go absolutely insane over shoes is something that both annoys and fascinates me. I’d like to pretend that it doesn’t exist, but my TV tells me otherwise. It’s not just Sex and the City. It’s on The People’s Court, where a woman sued her landlord for throwing out the designer shoes she left in a garbage bag in the hallway and it was revealed that she was living in Section 8 housing. It’s on CNBC’s interesting but always unsatisfying reality show Princess, where just once I’d like to see one of the women who live outside their means fail to learn their lesson. (It’s not entertainment without schadenfreude, in my opinion).

It’s in TV commercials as well–and the notion of women enduring pain for their pretty shoes goes way back.

There’s a theory that Cinderella’s glass slippers were the product of a mistranslation of the French; the word for glass is similar to that of a type of fur similar to ermine. Yet no one questioned it for centuries because it was perfectly plausible that a woman would wear undoubtedly painful glass slippers for the sake of magical fashion. In the Grimm version, one of her stepsisters cuts off one of her toes just so she could fit in the glass slipper.  Hans Christian Andersen, the man whose fairy tales make the Grimms’ look like Disney’s, wrote the ultimate cautionary tale of loving shoes too much. In The Red Shoes, a little girl loves dancing in her red shoes so much that she wears them everywhere, including in church, which is very improper.

The shoes get possessed by Satan or something and they get permanently bonded to her feet. Her feet start dancing all by themselves, all of the time. She ends up feeling such excruciating pain that she begs an executioner to chop off her feet. Oh, but it doesn’t end there. While the little girl is hobbling back to the church, she notices her disembodied feet following her around. Meanwhile, the church people refuse to let her in because according to them, she hasn’t repented enough.  Finally, after years and years of suffering, the no-longer-little girl is brought into the church by an angel–she’s so happy that she dies on the spot. The end.

Even that feel-good fable couldn’t stop the shoe obsession. I would love to say that it has no basis in reality, but last weekend, I bought a new pair of shoes and it really made me happy. The only pair of casual shoes I wore for the past year were the ones I wore while working as a cashier at a store that required black shoes. I wore them every day whether I was at work or not.

They saw me through the holiday rush. While I’m grateful to the store for hiring me at a time when no one else would, I didn’t get a B.A. in Cash Wrap Arts with a minor in Explaining Coupons. So when I finally got a more professional job, the shoes were relegated to weekends. What I lovingly called the Cashier Clodhoppers weren’t worn to pieces, but they stank. When you can smell your shoes from across the room, that’s bad. When you can smell your shoes while sitting at your desk at work and you’re wondering if your co-workers notice, that’s also bad.

It was time to let go. I got some new ones, threw the old ones in a bag, and unceremoniously flung them into the dumpster.  It was a relief. The Stink of Post-College Career Failure was gone. I now know the power of new and beautiful shoes. Now I walk proudly and comfortably in my Converse-knockoff sneakers. I could wear them so often that you may have to cut them off me.

Contributing writer Megan Robb is a writer, consultant and editor living in Raleigh, North Carolina. Her articles can be found at divot.com, wordhusterink.com, and cracked.com, as well as her personal website, megan-robb-writer.webs.com

Epidemiology 101

 By Matt Lawson

Last week I was sick with an unfortunately lingering cold. It just so happened that I’d stocked up on clearance-priced generic cold medicine the weekend before, so at least I was armed. I hadn’t had Alka Seltzer-type cold medicine since college. It’s cheap and it works as long as you keep taking it every three hours. I know I’ve alluded to the illnesses of college life before, but now that the fall semester’s in full sway and cold and flu season’s coming up, I’d like to brief the new class of college freshmen on what to expect.

Back when you were wide-eyed high school graduates eagerly waiting the excitement of collegiate life, you were probably warned about meningitis and its tendency to spread in college dorms. You may have been vaccinated for it. Good for you. Now you’ve got that one out of the way, your body is open to all of the other dorm-bred contagions. You may think to yourself, “But my dorm’s not dirty.” Let’s assume that the building’s staff does its best to keep clean. I don’t doubt that colleges do their part to keep the dorms as disease-free as possible. They want parents to know that their little ones are getting the most for their money.

However, there’s only so much that the staff can do. They can’t make your roommate shower regularly. They won’t go through your mini-fridge and throw away the fuzzy black spaghetti you’ve forgotten about. They could crank the thermostat down so you don’t go from hypothermic outdoor temperatures to the raging sub-Saharan heat indoors, but that doesn’t create the problems so much as it just doesn’t help them. Besides, you learn to live in extreme temperatures pretty easily. It’s when you go home for winter break and find yourself yelling to your parents that their 70-degree house is inhospitable that it really becomes a problem.

Along with the expanding awareness of the world and evolving self-knowledge that comes with higher education, you will experience a variety of new physical symptoms. A Technicolor parade of all kinds of substances will come out of your body that you never knew you were capable of producing. Become familiar with words like “bile” and “gastroenteritis” and “Giardia”. Do not over-Google your symptoms because the search engine will end up diagnosing you with cholera or that old Oregon Trail favorite, dysentery. This will just give you another disease called cyberchondria that is already a threat to society without claiming you as another victim.

I recommend just going with the (greenish) flow. Of course, take medicine and go to the infirmary and all of that. Always wear sandals in the shower. You do have your studies to think about. Keep in mind, though, that this is the time you can legally experience Kafka-esque dreams, delirium-fueled night wanderings, and philosophical breakthroughs, along with the complete dissipation of time and space. Let them fuel your creative fires. As an added bonus, you will earn the sympathy of others. Professors will understand if you can’t attend class due to staph poisoning. Your children still will want you to chauffeur them to the mall after you just coughed up a lung in front of them. (I may not have children myself, but I have been on their end of the situation).

Being sick in college has its temporary cost, but it will make you a stronger person inside and out. In the end, that’s the essence of a good education.

 Matt Lawson…er, “Matt Martin” is the editor of Hennen’s print publication.  When he isn’t editing stories or doing layout, he can be found chugging brews with his bros…er, family.  Honest.

Tuesday Essay: Mystery File

By Megan Robb

The real questions are: What the hell is this and why is it buried in my Word files?

  1. How did stars like Jim Carrey and Eddie Murphy start their careers?
    1. By acting in movies
    2. By doing stand-up comedy
    3. By going to traffic court
  1. Why was New York City’s traffic court set up in the 1970s?
    1. To help the city’s criminal courts
    2. To entertain with comedy
    3. To provide free shows
  1. How many cases do judges hear each day?
    1. 50 to 100
    2. 1.3 million
    3. 10
 Answers: After doing a little research, I’ve come to the conclusion that this is about the defensive driving/improv groups that apparently exist but I’ve never been fortunate enough to attend. It also appears to be a reading comprehension quiz. And based on the idiocy of question #3, I’m pretty sure I wrote this. The rest is still a mystery.

Contributing writer Megan Robb is a writer, consultant and editor living in Raleigh, North Carolina. Her articles can be found at divot.com, wordhusterink.com, and cracked.com, as well as her personal website, megan-robb-writer.webs.com