The other day I went for a pedicure and manicure. My manicurist looked taller than usual as she walked toward me. I looked at her feet - she was wearing a pair of platform stiletto-heeled shoes.

Green with envy, I said, "I sure wish I could wear shoes like that."

"What size do you wear?" she asked.

"Seven," I replied.

Quick as a wink, she took off the shoes. How could I resist? After the shoes were on my feet, I couldn't get out of the chair, so she helped me get up.

With great care, I took three steps. I was ecstatic to feel elegant again. Throwing my arms in the air, I said, "I want to be young again!"

The other customers laughed, and one gentleman getting a pedicure responded, "You're not that old."

Ah, how my heart swelled - though I knew if I didn't take the shoes off immediately, my feet would be doing the swelling.

I wore high heels for years. Working in New York, it meant nothing to walk for miles in five-inch heels. That was long before women began wearing walking shoes on the way to work, changing into pumps when they arrived.

At the time, high heels were a symbol of style - no matter the discomfort, fashion was imperative.

My recent experience with high heels reminded me of my transition from Manhattan to San Francisco to Los Angeles. Walking in high heels in San Francisco was excruciating, similar, I imagine, to climbing Mount Everest. Sometimes vertigo would take hold and I'd feel I was going to topple over and needed to grab on to a building to stay steady.

By the time I moved to Los Angeles, high heels were losing their appeal. In L.A., the fashion-victim capital of the world, clothes were less important. I had never experienced "casual" attire before.

Eventually this mode of dress was encouraged in the workplace. Casual Friday gradually became Casual Every Day. It wouldn't have surprised me if people started showing up in their bathrobes. Jeans became popular, T-shirts replaced button-ups and ties, and high heels were reserved for proms and weddings.

For a long time I was unable to conform to casual dressing, so people made fun of me. I'd be the only person in the room wearing a hat and high heels. Instead of feeling glamorous, I began to feel out of place and out of step with the universe.

I can't remember when my heels were replaced by "comfortable" shoes. Although I continued to wear hats, mainly to keep out of the sun and also because I have no patience to fool with my hair, my high heels vanished. Not only did I feel grungy, but I was much shorter.

Now I realize I should never have given in to less pain. If I had continued to wear high heels, I would be able to wear today's exciting high heels in exotic colors and patterns.

I guess I'll have to settle for those few delicious minutes in my manicurist's shoes.

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