Perceived Sexiness vs. What’s Really Sexy

26 03 2015
Courtesy of my closet.

Courtesy of my closet.

You see those shoes up there? They seem innocent enough, right? Don’t let them fool you, though. Not too long ago, they were the cause of one of my most embarrassing moments yet. But to their credit, they also helped reveal a crucial detail about what I find sexy in a man. So I guess I can’t shame them too much.

Let me back up a bit to give you guys some background.

Remember when I talked about how I recently attended some black tie events? Well, for one of those events, I decided I wanted to wear my black tulle a-line ball gown. And even though most would not be able to see the shoes I wore underneath, I also decided that I wanted to wear the shoes shown above with this gown. This plan (wearing the shoes with the gown) was perfect, as far as I was concerned, for several reasons: these shoes are hawt; I knew they’d compliment my pedicure quite nicely; I knew I’d be able to keep them on for a long period of time (if not the whole night); and I’d only worn them a few times previously, so I figured it was time to let them out of the closet and get some shine.

Well… what I hadn’t counted on, of course, was the fact that I would be eating and drinking my way through a city known for eating and drinking for 5 1/2 days before I needed to put the shoes on. What I hadn’t counted on was my feet swelling up to look like I was 6 months pregnant.

And I think you can tell by the photo that those shoes are absolutely not meant for swollen feet.

Yet, there I was, gown on, make-up done, hair done, trying to squeeze my sausage feet into those shoes. It was by far the most embarrassing thing to happen to me in quite some time, but you know what made it worse? A guy that I like, who was looking very sexy in his tuxedo, ended up being the one to help me put the shoes on. That’s right. Instead of me standing in front of him, looking regal, giving him my best flize, watching him as he mouthed “damn you look good” and blushing because I knew I did but it was still nice to see him acknowledge it, I was struggling, twisting on the bed trying to get my damn shoes on when he walked in.

Just picture this: Him literally holding each leg up (right, then left) while I’m desperately trying to push my feet in further, as he is simultaneously working his magic (and using all the strength known to man) to zip the shoes up from my heel to the top of my ankle.

I wanted to die.

I wanted to take those shoes, use the heels to dig a whole in the ground, bury myself in that whole, and never come back up again.

When I say I was embarrassed… y’all… whatever word you can think of beyond embarrassed still wouldn’t be able to describe how I felt. Mortified? Humiliated? Disgraced? Nope, still not enough.

But once I got over the embarrassment (kinda, you really can’t get over that), I started feeling something else. Something unexpected. Something tingly. Something surprisingly great. Because while yes, I was uber embarrassed about my feet, there was this very sexy man in front of me offering to help me, with no judgment, with no jokes (until later lol), showing up when I needed him. He was kind, and he was calm, when I was two seconds from crying and freaking out inside.

And if how he looked in the tuxedo hadn’t already done it for me, that move right there certainly sealed the deal.

It showed me that I can perceive sexiness as fulfilling all of these physical preferences I like (straight white teeth, great smile, broad shoulders, etc…), and a guy can do all the perceived sexy acts I like (hugging me from behind, kissing my neck, etc…), but what’s really and truly sexy is when he just shows up and supports me, without me asking for his help. Even when it just involves the silliest, most embarrassing thing. Especially when it involves the silliest, most embarrassing thing. Because that lets me know I’ll have his support when it’s doesn’t.

What about you all? What’s something that you find sexy in a guy or girl that’s not typically thought of as sexy?


STAHP with the Mandals Madness!

8 07 2014

I have a personal plea that I have to get off of my chest, y’all.

Do you know what’s even less sexy than Rick Ross boobs on a man?

Than murses?

Than 50-year old men who still wear braids?

Thank over 25-year old men who think Four Loko is a viable drinking option?


Men wearing mandals.

I know, I know — some of you are thinking “but men need to let their twinkle toes breathe too!”

Nah. Nope. They Don’t.¹

I’m not saying you have to wear Timberlands in the summer, but as for me and mine, there’s no easier way for my Little Mermaid to dry up than to be in mid-scan of a guy and notice dude is rocking the latest mandals with his outfit.

Actually, that’s not true. He could rock a mandal with a slingback, which is about as quick a turn off as a tear drop tattoo for me. You’re both obviously prone to bad decision-making as far as I’m concerned.

You know why mandals are so bad? Because they just scream 60 year old man who’s said eff it. Now, at 60, you may very well feel that way. My grandpas wear mandals all the time, but they’re both 83 and are notorious non-f*ck givers.

Dude who’s 35 — you have no excuse!

When I see mandals, I immediately picture that you must also have a kango hat, a really loose fitting linen suit, and some gators in your closet somewhere. Basically, I envision you being way too comfortable at the Zanzibar.²

And that just will. not. do.

So please, fellas, this is my official plea — stahp the madness.

I’m all for you getting your pedicure or body scrub on to keep your feet looking nice — just keep that showcasing for when we’re at home and you’re walking around barefoot.

In exchange, I’ll promise to only wear my Birkenstocks at home too.


Please note — nothing in this post applies to Idris Elba. I’m aware he likes to rock a mandal every once in a while, but Idris is so damn fine that he got Taraji to open the door for his stranger arse in the middle of the night (in that upcoming movie). And I don’t know any black woman in the history of black women who open their doors for strangers.

1 Although Addidas slip-ons and flip flops are alright. I’d still much rather you wear some boat shoes or sneakers, though, for your casual look.

2 Shout out to my DC folk who got that reference!

Timberland Boots are Just for Show: Shoe Story

14 11 2012

The guy on the right is probably the reason why they’re falling.


In the middle of some great round of laughter between friends, we all heard the ominous sound. One of us had just fallen. And as we looked around to see who it was, our eyes all found the image of our dear friend on her hands and knees, the victim of black ice and Timberland boots.

“Are you OK,” I attempted to get out, but before I could finish my question – the laughter everyone had been trying to hold in came bursting out like a popped balloon.

“Still not adjusted to the snow life, huh,” Jake asked her.

We all laughed. He laughed even more. And although he eventually helped her up, he continued laughing – one of those laughs that you just can’t stop even when you’re trying to. To her credit, she took it well, commenting about how New Orleans had flat ground and no snow and how Timberlands were the ultimate fail when it came to either of those. We continued making our way down the sloped cement hill to her apartment, the five of us laughing and joking and now walking quite gingerly down the wet walkway.

Not two seconds later, we heard the sound again.



Apparently Jake had been laughing so hard that he’d managed to lose his balance and not only fall, but go sliding down the hill – face first.

It was quite a sight to see. Here was this 5’11, not small guy, who was right in front of our eyes, sliding down the hill as if it were a ski slope… and not on purpose.

At first, none of us knew what to do. Whether it was shock or the pure terror of falling ourselves that way, no one made a peep. We just carefully continued walking down to the bottom of the hill, instinctively holding hands, not saying a word.  Oh, but when we got down there and we saw his face… well, let’s just say we might have awakened the neighbors with just how loud our laughter was at that time.

Anita, who’d fallen just a few minutes before, beautifully summed up what everyone else was thinking.

“Karma’s a you-know-what,” she said, looking him dead in his eyes.

“Yeah, and that bitch got you good!” Leave it to CCB to break it down so it would forever be broken.

That night was one of the many times I learned that Timberland boots were not actually made for traversing slippery walkways or trudging through the snow, despite what it may seem like in their numerous ads with people doing just those things.

In fact, what I soon realized was that while no one ever says Timberlands don’t make for good snow boots, it’s largely understood by my folks who live in places that regularly get snow. I guess it’s one of those North-east secrets that North-easterners just expect everyone else to know, but seeing as though the last time I can remember it snowing in New Orleans was on a cold December day in 1989 (the day my sis was born), it’s easy to see how I wouldn’t have the proper experience to understand such a thing.

Therefore, when I moved to DC as a young, impressionable 18 year-old, I immediately went out and purchased my first pair of those rugged, tan, suede, popular, clunky, and uncomfortable boots. I wanted to fit in, yes – but mostly, I didn’t want to fall. (At the time, I assumed it snowed nonstop here from like November to March. I needed to prepare.)

And yet, just like Anita, I soon found myself spread out on the pavement one day while attempting to rely on the traction of my newly purchased boots. Year after year, I tried. Year after year, I failed. And each time I tried, I’d find myself in an inadvertent ice-skating rink, slipping and sliding along the pavement. Since I was just as stubborn as I was naïve, I naturally assumed that the boots were not at fault, but rather I just hadn’t fully mastered the East Coast girl style just yet. It had to be my technique, I presumed, and if that was the case – that could be changed with practice.

When I saw her fall down that hill that night, it finally hit me. I couldn’t treat these boots like I’d done the Pleasure Principle “step off the chair” routine by Janet Jackson. No amount of practice was going to help this cause. I realized what many had determined well before me: Timberland boots (the tan, clunky, popular ones everyone wore) were just for show. They wouldn’t actually help me when the going got tough.

New Year’s Eve in New Orleans: A Shoe Story

5 09 2012












Happy New Year!!!

Anita* and I looked at each other with much relief and excitement while we toasted our glasses and screamed out the countdown for the last seconds of 2009. We’d actually made it to her uncle’s house, running in with our best heels, just in time for us to have champagne glasses placed in our hands at the very moment the crowd started with the number 10.

“Whew,” she said to me. “Happy New Year girl!”

“Same to you honey. And this year, we managed to not be in the car, traveling from one place to the other, during the countdown.”

“I know, we definitely need to get better at this.”

She was right. This was our third year in a row of spending New Year’s Eve together in New Orleans and yet, somehow we still hadn’t perfected getting to our next location with time to spare before the New Year came. The year before, we found ourselves in the car, driving into the French Quarter, and when we heard the radio start the countdown, we just pulled over by the river and toasted by ourselves. We made it to our 2nd destination 5 minutes later.

We were a little better off this year, but I still found myself running into her uncle’s house, praying that I didn’t trip over my 4 inch leopard print heels. They had a red embellishment on the side of each shoe and the last thing I wanted to do was add to the red with my blood. But thankfully, none of that occurred. Instead, we grabbed our glasses and toasted the year with her family, and all was well.

Anita’s uncle had managed to serve up a beautifully delicious spread of food that was just what we needed to coat our stomachs before heading downtown. And so for the next hour or so, we ate and drank champagne and took pictures, posing like we were on our own special runway – making sure to tell everyone “not to forget the shoes!” We posed near his fountain in the backyard, posed in the dining room, posed in the kitchen, the living room, the front yard – anywhere and everywhere we could, really. We also probably ate and drank in all those locations as well!

And then, just as quickly as we’d run into the house an hour or so before, it was time for us to leave and head downtown to Bourbon Street. We gathered our things, packed ourselves back into her car, and then I realized what I’d done. I’d made the ultimate rookie mistake for Bourbon Street. Not attempting to go there sober, which is bad enough.

No, I’d forgotten to bring a change of shoes for the evening.

You see, one thing you have to know about Bourbon Street is that you never ever ever go there wearing shoes that matter to you. And since I didn’t want to start crying by the end of the night because someone had completely ruined my babies, I was at a loss of what to do. Sure, we could go back to my house to get some sandals or sneakers, but that would have taken up way more time and gas than either one of us wanted to spend.

We thought. And thought. And finally, Anita remembered that she had an extra pair of sandals in her trunk that I could wear. Perfect! Except that Anita’s shoe size was about a size and 1/2 bigger than mine, so while I was thankful for the spare pair, I was horrified about how this would actually be executed.

As it turns out, it was just as clownish as you would think. But since desperate times call for desperate measures, I buckled those sandals up, sucked up my pride and literally flip flopped my way along the streets of downtown New Orleans. “Most people would be drunk by now, anyway,” I decided, probably as a way to justify looking like a little kid walking around in her mommie’s shoes. “The last thing they would be worried about were whether or not my shoes were too big.”

And I was right. A few drinks and plenty of dancing later, I barely remembered that my feet probably looked like they belonged to a clown. What was most important was that me and one of my besties were having a great time (she even battled a drag queen to Single Ladies by Beyonce’!!) and for one night only, the shoes I had on were much less of a concern.

* Name was changed in this story.

Walking Across the Stage: Shoe Story

6 06 2012

Yes, this is what I imagined the stage of my high school graduation ceremony to look like./ Photo:

“Those shoes are so hot,” exclaimed my best friend. “But how are you going to walk across the stage with them?” At the time of her original question, I deadpanned Annie* with one of those looks that could only mean “are you serious?” and kindly informed her that I would have no problem with my new silver, strappy 4 inch sandals. Twenty minutes later, and with our procession into the UNO Lakefront Arena quickly coming upon our graduating class, I was now ridiculously nervous.

What if I hadn’t practiced my strut enough, and I looked like one of those girls who’s never walked in heels? Or what if (gasp!) I actually tripped on. the. stage? It was more than I could handle, and I gradually began to psych myself out. Here I was, standing in front of the line (yay for a last name early on in the alphabet!), and I was practically sweating through my graduation cape. This was no easy feat either, since I had on a particularly cool feeling, flowerey summer dress, and the powers-that-be had managed to crank the AC to infinity in the arena. Yet, I was starting to sweat so much, I was worried that not only would I trip on stage, but I’d also be the girl who tripped on stage with the huge arm pit sweat stains.

Seriously, I was wreck.

But as we began walking down the makeshift aisle they’d made for us, my nerves slowly went away. “What was I so scared about really,” I thought to myself. “This was nothing new! I walked around in heels all the time.” And as I sat with the rest of my class, having made it through the first part of my test without any issues, I knew I’d have no problems whatsoever when the time came for me to get on that stage. That stage was going to be my runway! And I…. was going to be Naomi.

We sat there for what seemed like hours, but was really only minutes, especially since our valedictorian and salutatorian were nice enough to do a combo speech. And then it was time for the names. And the walking. My row was the first one to get in line near the stage, and as I watched some of my classmates seamlessly walk across the stage, my confidence continued to swoon about the likelihood of me not making a massive fool of myself in front of the maybe 700 people in attendance.

I raised my head (like the good society lady my grandmother taught me to be throughout the years) and began my Naomi Campbell walk. Up the steps. To the middle of the stage. Step by step, I made my way to my principal and that diploma he held in his hand. Step by step, my smile widened as I realized not only was I receiving my high school diploma, but there would be no hidden rocks on the stage to trip me up.

Away from the middle of the stage, I walked, confident that the worst was behind me. Grinning to my family. Palming the diploma in my hand. And then it happened.

I missed a step.

Horror meet my face, please.

I tried to quickly gather myself and pretend as if the world didn’t see the mishap that occurred. I hurried down the rest of the steps and practically flew to my seat. “I didn’t actually fall,” I told myself. “A mere trip wouldn’t register on anyone’s radar.” And I comforted myself with that proposition until I saw my family after the ceremony.

My mom, bless her heart, ran up to me with such pride in her eyes. “I’m so happy for you baby,” she cried out. “And don’t worry, I’m sure no one saw you trip down those steps.”

Right. No one saw but it was the first thing you mentioned, mom? I could have died right then and there. But I wouldn’t have bequeathed the curse of those shoes to my worst enemy. So I stood there and smiled like all was okay – vowing never to wear them again.

* Name was changed.

PS: If you’d like to be featured as a brief shoe story (anonymous or not), send me a pic of your favorite pair of shoes and information detailing a moment when you wore them. You can send the information to me @darbybaham on Twitter or email me at *NOTE: I may have to contact you more for information, depending on the details of your story*

Wedding Shoe Dropout…

25 02 2010

You remember the song that they sing in the musical Grease, Beauty School Dropout? If not, go here! If you do, then you know that the song came at the time when poor Frenchie knew her beauty school skills just were not going to cut it anymore.

Your own D-Magic had her own dropout experience this past Valentine’s Day. As I told you all before, I had a beautiful wedding to attend this Valentine’s Day. Truly – it was on Platinum Wedding TV Show status! And of course, you know my shoes had to match the event, right? Right… which is exactly what I was thinking when I placed these lovely crystal sequined shoes from Aldo on my Christmas List for my parents to pick from.

As luck would have it – my mommy got them for me! WOOT!!!! As unluck would have it, as soon as I tried them on, I knew it was going to take all of my heel wearing experience to make it through the night in these bad boys.

Now, I’m no amateur, but even the least knowledgeable person about stilettos can look at those heels and know that I had a task ahead of me. But since I’m no amateur, I followed my usual plan. Starting from when I came back to the District from my 2-week vacation at home in New Orleans, I officially had about 5 weeks to master these shoes.

I started off small. I tried wearing the heels for an hour with some thick socks, just chilling in the bed. I mastered that with no problem. Then, I graduated to walking around the apt for 10 minutes per hour, wearing the heels for at least 2 hours at a time. I vacuumed with the heels on. I washed dishes with the heels on. I even caked on the phone with the heels on lol.

And then, the damn snow happened.

And that took about a week and 1/2 of my time from me and an enumerable amount of my game. By the time the snow stuff had ended, I had only mastered wearing the shoes for 3 hours, with socks, walking around the house for 10 minutes every 30 minutes. Not good – considering the wedding + cocktail hour + reception was projected to be at least 6 hours! (This is where you realize the story is going to go wrong lol.)

But I pressed on. I wasn’t going to let these things bitch me. I’m D-Magic, stiletto queen. I got this – or so I thought. When the time came to wear the shoes for the wedding, I realized a huge tactical mistake I’d made as soon as I put them on. Unfortunately, in an attempt to make the shoes more comfortable for the wedding by wearing them with socks at home, I’d failed to see how they felt for hours without socks on. Here’s a clue – not very good.

What I found out was that while the socks definitely did their job of making the sides of the shoe more comfortable for me, they also succeeded in blunting the burn that my toes would normally feel while wearing 4.5 in heels with no hidden platform. Still, I refused to be punked out. I was going to wear those damn shoes.

And my girls who were with me, CCB and C-Murder, oh their shoes were no more sensible than mine were… so I didn’t feel too bad about my stubbornness. There we were, 3 fly sexy ass mamas walking to the wedding ceremony, knowing in our hearts we would not make it in these shoes all night. We lucked out for a while though. We found seats immediately upon entering the room where the ceremony was held. We found a small unoccupied table with chairs for the cocktail hour and we knew we could certainly make it through the dinner portion of the reception with no problems.

It was the dancing we were really concerned about. So we did what smart girls do… we made sure everyone saw those danged shoes while they could – while they were still on our feet. We crossed our legs to show our shoes. We walked with the bottom of our dresses in our hands to show our shoes. Hell, we even walked up to folks and said, “look at my shoes!” These were not times to be modest, you see lol.

But the Freemans had different plans than we did. Before the dinner actually began and before we knew what was happening – we were being asked to join the wedding party on the dance floor for a few quick dances. The shoes and the feet were not prepared for such surprises. By the time we’d preliminarily danced and walked back to our table for dinner, we all telepathically told each other that we’d be making a break for it upstairs to our room to change into our dancing shoes before we stepped foot onto that dance floor again.

And that’s exactly what we did. Sometime between our entrée of Filet Mignon/Chilean Sea Bass/potatoes and the dessert, we snuck out of that reception room so fast, you would have thought we were auditioning for Wonder Woman roles or something. And what’s even worse, we didn’t even make it to the elevator before we were kicking those shoes off our feet and limping our way to paradise, ie the dancing shoes we’d each picked for the night as the realization of shoe dropout drew nearer.

We took one last picture as evidence of our beauties (picture forthcoming), threw on the comfies, readjusted our dresses and made our way back to the reception as if we were not full inches shorter than what we were 10 minutes prior. I was the worst of the bunch, with my dress now fully dragging on the ground, as I made a complete 5 inch drop from my previous height in the dress. But it was all worth it. The pain, the running to the room, the slight feeling of failure that we only made it through 4 hours of the evening – it was all worth it.

Because that’s how much we’re serious about our shoes. That can’t ever be denied now lol.

Easter Impressions*

13 04 2009

It was Easter Sunday in sunny California, and I’d planned everything, from the food we would eat to the times people would show up at the house. I’d planned everything except my shoes, and for some reason, even though my outfit was thoughtfully in place… The right shoes just weren’t coming to me.

I stared and stared at my shoe closet, finally deciding after 20 minutes to step away from the madness, clear my thoughts, and come back later. The problem wasn’t that I didn’t have a pair that would work, the problems were that a) I had too many pairs and for once, was slightly overwhelmed trying to make a decision and b) I was having the craziest time finding something that was cute, casual, didn’t look like I was doing the most, but didn’t make me look like a scragamuffin.

What made the task harder was that Easter dinner was being held at my house so wearing heels, I figured, would probably look pretentious and very Bree (desperate housewives) of me. Tennis shoes wouldn’t work because of my outfit, and neither my flip flops nor my sandals would work because I needed a pedicure. I was stuck, for real.

So instead of making that decision, I went about making sure everything else was ready and done. I set the food out on the preparation table, set the dinner tables, and moved most breakables out of the common area. Everything was in place… Everything but me. And I had no time to continue deciding as the first round of people began showing up, as evidenced by the ring of my doorbell.

“I’m coming,” I screamed, ran to the closet quickly, threw on the first shoes I saw and ran back to the front door. I’d barely even had time to catch my breath when I swung the door open and welcomed in my first guests: 3 of my good friends from school and a beautiful stranger. I hugged each friend, making sure to slyly keep my eye on the prize. We smiled, introduced ourselves, and as I felt him giving me the once over, panic set in.

Of all the shoes I could’ve put on my feet, I’d thrown on a pair of old Birkenstocks and I just knew when his eyes birkenstocksreached my feet, this amazing first impression would turn sour. I followed his eyes in my mind and when he reached my feet, I tried desperately not to start squirming and show my uneasiness by shifting my feet. I stood confidently in those raggedy old shoes (or at least I hoped I had).

“Birkenstocks, eh,” he kind of chuckled.

“Well, you know… I just had to throw something on real quick before company arrived.”

“No problem, ma… I think it’s cute. I havent seen anyone wear those since high school.” He looked up and gave me the biggest smile and suddenly I was okay with the shoes I’d chosen. But I knew I would make damn sure that next time I was more prepared. Can’t have the cutie thinking this is a normal situation.

* Just another attempt at strengthening my short story skills….