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One difference between New York and Washington, DC is that women in Washington ride the Metro in sneakers and put their good shoes on at work, while women in New York ride the subway in heels. This puzzles me, since the streets of New York are much dirtier than those of Washington, and sidewalks are much bumpier and more cracked. Also, New York women seem to wear more expensive shoes than Washington women, so why wouldn't they be more careful?
If I had an office job in New York I'd mark myself as a rube by wearing sneakers to work, because I simply don't know how to walk any distance in heels. The other night I watched a woman and her date walk across the platform at 59th Street -- I'm guessing they had been to Lincoln Center, from their clothing -- and she was gliding on four-inch heels as if they were toe shoes. I admire that. I would lurch in those shoes, twist a knee and probably even break an ankle.
It's just not something I ever learned to do, and I'm not sure why. Part of it, undoubtedly, is that I was a senior in high school at the age of 15, and left for college at 16; I kind of skipped those last years of my teens, when most girls get serious about hair, makeup and other trappings of femininity. I never learned to style my hair with a blowdryer, I'm lousy at plucking my own eyebrows, and can't apply nail polish without looking like I came from a fingerpainting class.
Every so often I think I should make more of an effort, and I try -- but because it's not how people are used to seeing me, or how I'm used to seeing myself, I just look like I'm wearing a costume. I do have two beautiful pairs of high-heeled shoes that I bought in LA with well-meaning friends, and I think I've worn them a total of five times, combined. Needless to say, I didn't bring them to New York with me.