My dad got married this weekend! It was lovely; he cried adorably, my sister and I cried rather less adorably, and the whole thing was just wonderful.
But lovely and adorable and wonderful do not make for good stories.
What does make a good story? A passive-aggressive bed and breakfast hostess cornering girls to make them take off their high heels.
I first caught her attention by walking a little loudly down the hall. Swiftly taking in my peep toe heels, she stepped uncomfortably close to my face and asked, “Didn’t anyone tell you?” Before I even had a chance to answer, she went on, “I had requested that there be no spiky or tall heels.” I began to explain that no one had told me of any such request, and I was pretty sure my heels didn’t qualify as “spiky,” being only about 3 inches tall, but she barreled onward. “So if you could just take them off after all the pictures are done,” she said, smiling sweetly, “that would be wonderful. Everyone will just think you’re getting comfortable! But they really do leave bullet holes in my floor.”
I was unaware that I had shotguns in my shoes. Whoops.
Now, I was raised to respect both adults and old houses, and this mansion-turned-B&B was nearly 100 years old. Of course I didn’t want to damage the floors, but I figured if I stuck to the rugs and refrained from flamenco or tap dancing, it would be fine. Besides, more than half the women there were wearing heels too, and I didn’t see the hostess whispering warnings of bullet holes to any of them.
What I did see was Bird and her friend coming back from the buffet with plates in one hand and shoes in the other.
“She cornered us!” Bird said. Apparently the hostess hadn’t bothered with the sweet smile this time. She just stood there and made them take their shoes off after asking if anyone “remembered” her original request at all. While, like me, Bird and her friend certainly didn’t want to cause any damage to the floors, they felt somewhat attacked.
“I don’t see her going up to anyone else,” I mused, glancing at the still-shod feet around us. Some of those could definitely be classified as spiky, and yet the hostess chose to continue targeting the three youngest women wearing high heeled shoes.
The last straw came when we made our way into the living room to watch our dad and his new bride cut the cake. I noticed that the hostess had literally cornered my poor sister and was hovering, watching her remove her shoes again. Bird told me later that she demanded, “Do you have a problem with removing your shoes? Other people don’t mind taking off their shoes!” – and pointed to a pile of flipflops that did not belong to anyone in our party.
I can bite my tongue. I can be civil with people being unfair toward me. I can even brush it off, if it only affects me. But if you make my little sister uncomfortable? Watch out.
“Excuse me,” I cut her off, putting on my best Southern Belle smile, “with all due respect, if this is going to be a problem, you should probably make a general announcement or put a sign up, since I can’t help but notice you’ve only been talking to the three of us.”
“Well, yes, there should have been a sign up,” she said, “but the smaller heels don’t make as much of an impact, so really…I mean, it’s just that I had requested…”
Honestly, I was not going to miss my dad cutting the cake to listen to that woman repeat her line about bullet holes. So I smiled just as sweetly as she had earlier and turned away.
Once the cake cutting and toasts were over, I turned to the Engineer. “I have a physics question for you,” I said. “Does the height of the heel on my shoe increase the force I am exerting on the floor?”
“No,” he said, “force has more to do with the surface area.” (I’m paraphrasing because I don’t remember exactly what he said, but the explanation was very helpful, particularly since it proved me right.)
Our conversation had caught the attention of a family friend nearby. Once we filled her in on the situation, she asked, “Is that her?” and sauntered straight over to the hostess.
We found out later that she had quite politely asked why the groom’s daughters, whom she knew to be two classy ladies, were not wearing shoes. The hostess repeated her line about bullet holes and heels, to which our friend asked, “Oh, do I need to remove my shoes?”
“Oh, I didn’t even notice those! No, no, you’re fine.”
Our heels were exactly the same height.
The family friend then politely pointed out that we were paying for the use of the venue and would be posting a review later on about the experience, so she was going to go ahead and tell Bird and me to put our shoes back on.
The hostess, in my opinion, had quickly crossed the line into unprofessional behavior. She consistently made discriminatory judgment calls in her attempts to protect the floors, insisting that our heels were more damaging than anyone else’s. It was pretty obvious that she was unwilling to treat the “adult” guests this way, as evidenced when our family friend asked if she needed to take her shoes off. Even if Bird and I were not the daughters of the groom, we were still guests in a venue that was being used by paying customers. Yet the hostess became hostile every time she approached us, particularly Bird and her friend. Addressing us respectfully, regardless of our apparent age or connection to the bride and groom, would probably have yielded far more favorable results than attacking and scolding us for not immediately complying to her demands.
Still, this by no means ruined the evening, and I finally did kick off my shoes (when I damn well felt like it!) to swing dance a little with the Engineer.
The next morning, as we were saying goodbye, the hostess bustled up to shake hands and say how nice it was to meet us, and, turning to me, added, “And weren’t you so much more comfortable after you took off your shoes?”
I blinked, withdrew my hand, and went to hug my dad goodbye. There were just too many comebacks to choose from.