Limping in Heels

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When it comes to dating, there’s no right time to announce that you have a chronic illness that may or may not interfere with your energy level, your eyesight, or even your ability to raise a glass. MS is not communicable like a cold, or cooties. It’s not deadly like cancer or heart disease or AIDS. Depending on the level of disability, someone managing their symptoms can live a full and productive lifestyle. All that being said, even with the most positive outlook and most sparkling attitude, it can be hard to find the right way to let a guy you’ve just started seeing know that it’s there, like a shadow. The first date might go well enough. A movie is harmless. Dinner at that nice sushi place goes really well. Dancing at a hot club sounds like a perfect opportunity for drinks and getting close. It means sexy touchable hair, soft shimmer on the lips, a light spritz of something floral in all the right places, a simple dress that hugs just enough, and heels.

Heels can be a problem. Oh, I can strut in them all right. I’ve been known to turn a stretch of pavement into a catwalk in some three-inch stilettos with no trouble at all. But that was before. These days, when I strap on a pair, I do some practice pacing in my living room after getting dressed. I warm up by squatting and tiptoe-ing like I’m preparing for some kind of sporting event. At the club, I try to stay cool when I hear a familiar bachata or merengue start playing. I sip my drink and try to be coy, but all it takes is for my smiling date to offer me his hand and I’m up. The music plays pied piper to my hips and shoulders and for a moment, I’m a Dominican Diva or a Cuban Princess going wepa! on the floor. Oh yes. But then, I remember that I might lose my balance and stumble without warning and the rising heat in the room could make the crazy tremor in my left hand flare up. I get all weird and ask to sit down and the poor guy who was really enjoying my moves is visibly disappointed. I sip water and get even weirder because I think he won’t be into me anymore once he finds out that I’m a high-heeled gimp.

I might give him another cautious spin on the dance floor, but the thing I’m afraid to say gets in the way of the tight squeeze, the leading kiss, or the anything else that night. The next day, I slip my feet into my dear old Doc Martens with the worn down heels and ragged laces and I almost feel okay about not answering the two text messages from last night’s loverboy. It would’ve been such a hassle to get into a bunch of explanations with technical terms he’s probably never heard. He would’ve given me the I’m so sorry to hear that speech and look at me like I’m damaged goods. Right?

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Anyway, he wasn’t all that cute. And he wore too much cologne. And he had tiny ears. You know what they say about men with tiny ears. Anyway, there’ll be other dates. Other opportunities to dance. And I’ve got a closet full of heels.

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