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If the shoe fits, then why not wear it?

Recently my husband and I were taking the hotel elevator from the underground parkade to our room when it stopped at the lobby to pick up a guest. The door opened to reveal a young man resplendent in drag queen attire.

This certainly caught me off-guard, but as he entered the elevator, I gave him a smile (a rather awkward one, I’m sure), and he responded with an equally awkward one. In the short ride up to the ninth floor where he departed, I couldn’t help but notice how tall he was. Wearing a pair of five inch spike heels will do that to a person, but he had morphed into a towering giant – a giant wearing a blonde wig and a skin tight neon pink dress.

As he exited the elevator, I couldn’t help but admire how well he navigated the hallway in those pointy-toed stilettos. (Believe me, in my youth I had worn many a high heel, so I was very familiar with the drill.) This obviously was not the first time he had donned such a pair of shoes.

Once the elevator doors had closed, my husband and I gave each other a look that said “each to their own” and I might have observed, “That was interesting.” But we left it at that.

The next morning as we headed back down, the elevator stopped at the ninth floor again. This time to pick up two people. One was the fellow from the previous evening. He was no longer wearing a dress, but now had opted for regular shorts and a t-shirt. I noted that he had not been able to entirely scrub away last night’s bright pink lipstick and now it just looked like a really bad smear. (Sometimes it’s just better to leave things be.)

However, the young man who was with him was in drag, sporting a pixie cut wig, sequined top, short skirt, and a pair of lovely pumps that could have easily been found on any high-fashioned runway.

We exchanged “Good Mornings” which was followed by a few moments of uncomfortable silence. (Elevator rides are uncomfortable at the best of times, but now it seemed even more so.) Then the first fellow unexpectedly turned to me and said, “Cute purse.” The compliment caught me a bit off-guard, but he had a good eye. (After all, it was my favourite Kate Spade bag.)

I thanked him and wanted to say to the guy in drag, “Cute shoes.” But I didn’t say anything, maybe because I thought it might sound too phoney or too patronizing.

The first fellow went on to explain to us that they had held a Drag Queen event the previous evening. I gushed, “That’s nice!” But I’m not sure how sincere it sounded. And that pretty much summed up the exchange.

When I reflected on the elevator incident later, my silence bothered me. Normally I would have asked about the event or even made small talk about the weather. But I did none of that, and I couldn’t help but wonder why.

After all, I consider myself a fairly open-minded, accepting person, but had I acted differently in this situation because I was being judgemental or because I didn’t want to say the wrong thing? I was hoping that it wasn’t because I had become some kind of an old-fashioned, prairie priss who had faltered when confronted with something new and different.

I don’t exactly know what the reason was, but I have a sneaking suspicion that when faced with the unfamiliar I had changed the way I normally communicate. One thing I did know was that I wasn’t pleased with my behaviour and vowed to do better in the future.

But I will say this – those fellows certainly had good taste when it came to shoes. (Although I may not know much about drag queens, I do know shoes.) And when your shoe size is well into the double digits finding stylish, sexy shoes can’t be very easy.

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