Wednesday, 29 November 2006

The Best Job In Brazil: The Ankle Specialist

Now summer is approaching, I am afraid of losing one of my main sources of amusement while patrolling the streets of Brazilian cities. As well as poodles-in-t-shirts, the other thing guaranteed to tickle me every time is seeing the platform boots that almost every brasileira between 15 & 50 wears. Same style, slightly different colour, same soles. They don‘t seem to realise that platforms were only invented for use by Slade and Elton John on stage in 1975! They‘re not serious! You‘re not supposed to wear them except at fancy dress parties for 70s nights! Platforms are comedy, not fashion, items. Remember what happened to Naomi Campbell.

If you come to Brazil for the first time, you could be forgiven for thinking that the girls here are even taller than the Dutch or Austrians. Look down! The answer is in the six inches of solid rubber or wood at the bottom. It‘s impossible to walk gracefully or to look elegant on those things. I know. I tried it. Purely for the purposes of science, of course. It‘s like walking with a ton of dried mud on your boots. The floor seems miles away. Your head brushes the roof or the doorframe. You never feel in control. The best you can do is to totter about like a stiltwalker waiting for someone to catch you. I would hate to be stuck in the middle of a dance-floor with hundreds of women wearing wooden platforms stumbling around me. Kiss goodbye to your toes. Even a cockroach couldn‘t withstand a stamp or two from those.

For summer, the boots will be replaced by sandals with platforms, which aren‘t quite as funny, but can still provide moments of hilarity. This is when your role as Ankle Specialist really comes into its own. The cocktail of platforms without ankle support, endless hills with uneven steps, streets paved with potholes and grates that rise out of the ground like chimneys, guarantees you work until the next cycle of fashion brings around some nice, sensible librarian shoes.In summer, the fall rate will be even higher. By this, I mean the amount of girls you see tumbling to the floor or turning an ankle every day, on a piece of cracked concrete. They always pick themselves up and look down at the floor in surprise, like when a footballer blames a divot in the pitch. Check out how many girls you see here wearing Havaianas with one ankle bandaged. The platforms have claimed another victim and they‘ve learnt their lesson, perhaps? But you will still notice occasional brasileiras defiantly wearing platforms while limping. They obviously haven‘t made the connection. These girls will be your regular customers. Blame the pavements, blame the prefeitura, blame the concrete company, blame the bus company, blame the heat, blame the rain, just don‘t advise them to change their footwear. It will deprive you of your main source of income, and it will also deprive me of my main source of enjoyment from the streets of São Paulo, schadenfreude being one of my favourite pastimes.

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