When you left the house this morning, everything was fine. But suddenly, through some twist of fate, weather shenanigans, or all-out clumsiness on your part, your footwear situation went awry and now, here you are with a broken heel in the middle of a snowstorm. What are you going to do?

Shoe malfunctions are a recurring nightmare of mine in the same way that losing teeth or showing up to work without pants is for other people. Since I've had my share of unfortunate footwear incidents, I have my share of MacGyvery solutions. All of them are embarrassing, but less embarrassing or hookworm causing than walking around barefoot on a city sidewalk. At least, I hope so.


First, prevent shoe tragedy by buying shoes you can pull off; if you can't walk comfortably in shoes when you try them on in the store, you sure as hell aren't going to be able to wear them to work or to the club without significant discomfort. I'd go even further and point out that you should never buy shoes that you're not confident you could sort of jogtrot at least a block in, unless you plan on bringing backup shoes with you every time you wear the hurty ones.

Even the best laid shoe plans sometimes fall through, though, and often this footwear failure comes in the form of a broken heel. Unfortunately, there's not much you can do for a broken heel except superglue it and walk funny until you get to a place where you can sit down and get yourself shod again. I broke a pair of shoes about a mile away from my apartment in Athens, Greece once, and had to walk for what seemed like hours on my tiptoes. The ridiculously dressed military guards standing like jerks at the entrance to the national garden made fun of me, which sucked, but on the positive side: calf strengthening!


When I used to wear heels to work every day, I was constantly wearing through the tips of my heels, so I'd walk through the lobby of my building sounding like a forlorn tap dancer who had given up on her dream in order to to go corporate so she could, I don't know, pay for dancing lessons for her little sister. It would be on ABC Family if it were a movie. Anyway, when this happens, try not to walk around on your worn out heels too much; you'll damage the shoe. Instead, find a pencil, pull the eraser out of one end, and use that on your heel tip for a temporary fix. I've also used duct tape before, but duct tape only serves to make you look like you're unhinged, which has its benefits, since looking unhinged can often lead to people not wanting to talk to you. A hole in the sole can also be fixed temporarily with a good healthy application of duct tape.

If you step in a pile of dog shit, you can hurt not only your soles and your pride, but also your social standing. No one wants to be friends with Lady Turdsaplenty, so you're going to want to find a sink or water source right away. Wet the soul of your shoe; if the bottom of your shoe is rubber, let the shoe sit in soapy water with a depth that doesn't exceed that of the depth of the rubber sole on the shoe. Let it sit for a few minutes, then wipe the bottom with a paper towel. Soak again in clear water, then use a Q-tip or something else that isn't your fingers to scrap the remaining bits from inside the tread. Shoes that don't have treads can be rid of stink with hand sanitizer or hand soap and a good thorough wipe.


In the event that the shoes will not be wearable for several hours, consider replacing them temporarily. When I was in New York in August, my travel companion and I went on a very long walk from Soho up to Central Park, because we're dumb and quixotic about our abilities. I was wearing newish wedge sandals with lots of straps, and of course by the time we got past the Metropolitan Museum, my feet were throbbing and blistery. Rather than end the day, we found a store and I proceded to buy the ugliest pair of shoes in the entire world, but I didn't care because at least my feet didn't look like livestock hooves. I have not worn those shoes since, but I'm thinking of getting them bronzed.

Of course, sometimes shoes are rendered unsuitable by an act of God. You walk into a party and it's dry as a bone and clear, and by the time you leave, sleet. Once I spent the night at the house of a guy I was seeing after attending a holiday party with him. I showed up to the party in open toed shoes because there wasn't any snow and why not wear open toed shoes because whee!, and overnight, Old Man Winter decided to make me pay for my harlotry by dumping three inches of the white stuff on the ground. I don't own a car and neither did he, so I ended up wearing a pair of men's athletic socks, sweatpants, a sweatshirt, a coat, gloves, and black suede open toed shoes onto the bus that took me back to my apartment. Even though a few people looked at my feet and then up at me with a knowing smirk, the ride went surprisingly well. Chicago's not the most fashionable of cities; it's the urban equivalent of a big pair of sweatpants. Since I was living alone at the time, no one except my cat ended up judging me, and she shits in a box and thinks the Nintendo Wii curser is a bug for her to kill, so she can take her fashion judgment and shove it.


If it's truly icy outside and you have shoes with no traction, try poking some thumb tacks through duct tape (so they enter through the sticky side and stick out of the side that isn't sticky, then stick the whole thing to the bottom of your shoes. It's better than nothing.

Today we learned that shoes can be our best friend our our worst enemy, but no matter what the shoe gods throw at us, we should be able to catch it and throw it right back. As long as we have duct tape.