The itsy bitsy spider ...fought back

Dear Miss Snark and KY,

I have a question on dress for a conference. My dilemma is a direct result of an act of personal Nitwittery about a month ago.

I was stung by a brown recluse spider that had taken up residence in my right shoe. I'm not going to go into all the gory details, but I narrowly missed getting three toes amputated. Aragog has NOTHING on a brown recluse fending off a home invasion of the size 8 variety!

I am off crutches now, and have been wearing leather moccasin style slippers for a few days. My Dr tells me to get used to it. No stillettos for me for a while. I can't even where sneaks because they're too constricting. I am going to a writer's conference next month and this is wreaking havoc with my planned wardrobe. I'd planned some nice, relaxed businessy type outfits for the day, and some slightlier dressier outfits for the evening events, and of course, some jeans and a nice t shirt for the rest of the time. Do I hold my head high and make the strangest fashion statement ever with brown mocs? Do I grit my teeth, try to find a decent pair of flats that won't hurt my recovery too much? Do I have a sudden relapse and go back to crutches so I can moc the right foot and sneaker the left foot? Do I just run amuck barefoot waving Frankenfoot under everyone's nose, thereby being certain to make some sort of impression? How important is appearance anyway? I hate to say this, but we (as people in general) base so much of our opinions of people that I'm worried that I'm literally shooting myself in the foot on this one. Would you, or any of the Snarklings make a snap judgement on a woman who's mostly put together except for wild foot gear?

I realize that the important thing for an unagented writer at a conference is networking. But I'm worried that if I run around looking like a refugee from Nitwits R Us, no-one will take me remotely seriously. I don't have a novel to sell yet. It needs some re-working before I'm ready to start querying again. I just happened to be traveling to the city in question for work, and my boss was kind enough to give me a few extra days on my plane ticket to attend the conference. So I figured as long as the trip was free, I might as well take advantage and attend the conference.

Am I obsessing too much over this?

Yes, but it's better than some of the other things y'all obsess about.

You need a nice t-shirt that says "ask me how I survived a brown recluse spider bite with only this brown moc slipper as a souvenir".

No one is looking at your feet. If they are, they're envying you for what looks to be comfortable shoes. You're hyper conscious of it; no one else is looking. And I swear to you: Anna Wintour neither attends, supervises nor monitors fashions at writing conferences.

However, I know that does not assuage your anxiety.

Spend some time shopping for the nicest shoe you can find that your doctor says is an acceptable choice. If mocs are it, so be it. Don't compromise your health for a writing conference.

And make sure you have the funny story ready of how the spider bit you. If you're laughing, so is everyone else.


Anonymous said...

If you're gonna use up energy and concentration worrying that you look like a weirdo who doesn't know how to dress, then wear the comfy shoes and stick a nice obvious bandage around that ankle, so everyone who even notices the shoes will instantly know that you're wearing them because of some kind of injury rather than because you let your four-year-old dress you.

Anonymous said...

Your spider run-in is a good conversation starter. Choose the shoes that will make the most of it and of course, are the best for your feet because if you're uncomfortable or in pain, people sense it and will not be as comfortable around you. The conference will give you lots of opportunities to practice telling a story/pitching an idea.

Katie Alender said...

What about a fashionable sock and one of those walking casts? People would assume it was something broken and probably leave it alone.

But maybe those are hard to come by, or maybe that would be lying, which would be weird.

imp said...

I think people should be understanding but there's always some galoot who's not so I know where you're coming from.

If, even after Miss Snark's great advice, you're feeling not too sure about the moccasins, I have a potential solution:

Maybe you can try for a pair of Clark's comfy yet business-y looking shoes in a wide size that's perhaps a half size bigger than what you normally wear. They're legendarily praised for comfort and are stylish, too.

And now I will begin shaking the hell out of my shoes before putting them on. Ugh, a recluse. Scary stuff.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone really care what other people wear to conferences? I've been to a few big ones and the variety of dress was so diverse as to make me feel overdressed and I had on a very casual skirt and jacket. I might as well have had on a ballgown. The people at the conference will be too busy watching the folks in teddy bear t-shirts and long denim jumpers to care about your mocs.

Ann (bunnygirl) said...

Would a ballet slipper be as comfy as a moc? Not a ballerina flat, but an actual soft leather practice slipper?

It would still be an odd sort of fashion statement, but depending on the outfit, not nearly as odd or obvious as a moccasin.

Anonymous said...

Dear Dog, is no one concerned about the wherabouts of this bloodthirsty spider? As in--does the brown recluse live anywhere in the Northeast? Should I vacuum out my shoes before donning? Should I buy Teflon socks?

I've never heard of such a beast and am seriously considering becoming an arachnophobe. Chin up, Moc Girl, if it's the Backspace conference you're headed to, I'm going to hunt for your remedial footwear and greet you with a martini.

Poodle Girl

Anonymous said...

Over on Kristin Nelson's blog, she has a couple photos of her were some of her writers at a writers' conference. Go take a look at those pictures. Feel better.

Anonymous said...

Re: shoes - have you looked into these?


I wear them all the time. They're comfy, thin, flexible and seriously cheap (like, under $10 plus shipping). And they come in pretty colors, although the colored ones tend to be stiffer material, like a starched silk taffeta. The black one's (Kung Fu) are cotton and come with either a rubber or cloth sole (the Kung Fu style has elastic gussets in the upper, the rest are Mary Janes). People wear them for tai chi and stuff, so you know they're easy on the tootsies and they conform nicely. If you're worried about roominess, just go a tad large. For instance, I'm supposed to be a 40 (size 10) but I usually buy a 42 and it fits comfortably loosely. You can always shrink the cotton ones in the dryer if you need to.

Re: spiders -

Anonymous, looks like you're safe.


Basically, recluses are to the south what scorpions are to the southwest - an everyday hazard you just learn to live around until the day they get you.

Contrary to popular myth, bad reactions that result in ulcerating, cavernous craters of doom are actually pretty rare. Usually you just get a painful, excruciatingly itchy bite that hangs around for a few months slowly fading away.

I got one up my jammy bottoms one night (we're guessing it crawled into bed with me, then up my leg while I was sleeping *shudder*). Bit me just below the hiney twice. Had to sit on ice packs for weeks. Not fun. But not the end of the world. (Although at 2am, it sure seems like it)

Miss Snark said...

sweet mother of dog, we're not trading insect attack stories on this blog! NO!

Miss Snark pulls the plug on that.

She doesn't sleep much but when she does she does NOT want to feel spiders crawling up her jammy legs. Or any other portion of her quivering heap of snarachnophobic self.

Liz Wolfe said...

You could always wear the moc on the injured food and wear a stylish flat on the other foot. Everyone would instantly know that the moc clad foot had suffered some sort of distress. I used to work in retail advertising and actually saw women do something similar so no one would think they'd lost all fashion sense.

McKoala said...

How about an elegant cane? House-style. The vital clue to show you're not wearing the mocs 'cos you think they're cool.

Anonymous said...

Okay, since her snarkiness has pulled the plug on spider tales, I'll make this brief.

Bit by one last Wednesday. I saw it. It saw me first. Used cream I had ordered for my diabetic mother. Wound on my finger healed today. Only a little dry scaling left.

I do not work for this company or own stock in it or otherwise receive any compensation. I just have a healed finger that looked pretty darn bad on Thursday morning.


Look for BioHeal. Maybe you can help your poor tootsie along before you go to the conference. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

"Frankenfoot"? LMAO

Just use comic gems like that to discribe your problem, and people will be too busy laughing to think about you being a fashion disaster.

There are tons of nice dressy, slipper style shoes out there. My advice is to use this as an excuse to shop...shop...shop. :D

Or you could just wear whatever you want and add really unussual pieces to your outfit. People will think you are thumbing your nose at fashion and are eccentric. Then you could even act as odd as you wanted too. LOL

Oh, I agree with Miss Snark (as any smart person would-*BG*).
No creepy crawly bug attack stories, please!

I found a brown recluse in the laundry room of my proir home (killed it of course)and had nightmares about getting bit for months after. *shivers at the thought*

Chris Eldin said...

Hi, I just HAD to post to this one!!

Don't obsess!! I attended a conference in the fall, with the express intent on meeting a particular editor at a large publishing house. I expected extra-fancy trappings with some snobbery on the side.
I found the opposite. She was wearing a fashionable business suit and a pair of well-worn running sneaks. I loved her after seeing that!

Now that I have my dream publisher, I need a dream agent. One with similar shoes and attitude.....

Oh, and I ALWAYS give my shoes a shake before putting them on. Your story adds fuel to my quirky habit.

Have fun at the conference!! And what a nice boss you have!

Elektra said...

Anyone else sticking to open-toed shoes for a while?

Maria said...

This is easy. Like Katie said above something along the lines of making the injury obvious. Wear the mocs. Wrap a gauze thingie/bandage lightly, lightly around the injured foot so that it shows under the jeans or pants--make it look like a sprained ankle. No, it has Nothing to do with the injury--but it will be OBVIOUS the foot is injured and therefore the strange mocs. You could even wear a sneaker on one shoe and the moc on the other. :>)

You can then use the injury as a conversation starter.

Good luck! Try not to trip and fall while staring at your own feet to make sure they look okay...!

Anonymous said...

lipstick and earrings; you'll be fine.

Anonymous said...

You do have a nice boss!

I think the posts re: having a funny story are great.

Could you bandage the toe and still wear open toed shoes?

Clarke's are a super brand. I have a pair of roomy clogs I love.

Soni--I love the natasha's cafe site! The Mary Janes are adorable.

Also, I've noticed that writers don't tend to, well, be the best-dressed people in the world. So you'll be fine--even in mocs. You've put a lot of thought into your wardrobe, which is admirable.

And while we're on the topic of shoes... anyone know of a good site for LARGE women's shoes? My 13 year old daughter wears a size 11. (She's already 5' 6". The kid's gonna be tall...) She's so frustrated with trying to find cute teen shoes for her really large feet. (I keep telling her God gave her a firm foundation...)

Anonymous said...

What about Woman Within (a.k.a. Lane Bryant) for real-woman sized shoes?

Tell you daughter to despair not. The American average foot size is growing bigger, not smaller. I technically wear a 5 1/2 (no jokes, anyone) and cannot buy them, so I run around in 6s and heavy socks.

And Frankenfoot, may I suggest a lapel pin with this word on it? Such openness will certainly fend off all displeasure toward your foot. You could also just get black mocs and make an artsy fashion-statement...


Anonymous said...

A lot of people show up for conferences looking more or less wardrobe-challenged due to finances or the fact they rarely go to town or simply don't know/care what's in style.

I don't think I would talk up the spider bite. That's not what you want to be remembered for and your foot's ills are nobody's business. You don't owe an explanation. Just go as you are and say a few brilliant insightful things and let people remember you for that. And if someone is rude enough to make stupid remarks about your footgear, you could just pretend you never heard it, or give them a cold withering look and walk away...

That said, while you're traveling it might be a good idea to find something more protective than soft leather so you don't get injured by someone stepping on your foot in a line or on a bus/subway, and you don't accidentally bang your toes on a broken sidewalk or some other unexpected terrain hazard.

Mazement said...

Couldn't you just buy a box of spiders off the Internet, release them at the conference, and then hang out in your hotel room for rest of the first day?

Even if only half-a-dozen people get bitten, you still wouldn't stand out as much. Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best ones.

Kate Thornton said...

Wear comfy shoes.

I had a stroke a few years ago and wear a leg brace. Heels (well, most pretty shoes) are out for me forever now. Sigh.

I go to conferences in nice comfy pants outfits. I haven't worn a skirt in several years as the brace is big and distracting to viewers. I do wear comfy shoes with velcro fasteners because I lost the use of my hand & arm as well and can't tie laces. (I type one-handed.)

Your battle with the spider is an excellent story - but you never need to explain your footwear to anyone.

mai said...

Flats are in this year, which is a bit of luck. For pure comfort that looks sideways at business and fashion dress expectations, anything from Puma (except track shoes and serious running shoes) will be amazing.

The only thing you need to worry about is people assuming you don't exist because you're injured. While recovering from a broken leg, I got that a lot. Per mckoala's advice, an elegant cane works to counter that problem.

Anonymous said...

As much as I respect Miss Snark, I respect the snarklings even more. The person who asked this question is awesome. I am going to a conference in a few weeks and have been obsessing over what to wear. I have my choice of two pretty outfits and couldn't decide which one. This post really puts things like that into perspective. I will close my eyes, grab one of the outfits, and not worry so much!

mai said...

Note to pookie: Zappos.com is the place to go for your daughter's shoes.

Anonymous said...

How about a wide, straight pant, that covers most of your shoes? There's a lot of nice mid-casual business-y outfits with fitted jackets/tops and more flow-y or wide pants that won't show much mroe than the tip of your shoes, which won't stand out much anyway.

Gads, I've been working in retail way too long. I need to sell a book already & get out of this job!

Anonymous said...

You have my sympathy on this one! Not that a dreaded brown recluse has gotten me -- ouch! -- but I have stood in your shoes, after a fashion. So to speak.

A few years ago I was presenting at an archaeological conference in Greece, just a few weeks after finishing about 6 months of physical therapy for a carpal-tunnel-like shoulder problem. (Yes, it affected my legs... go figure.) My choice of footwear was largely limited to sneakers, for the support they provided. Well, sure enough, someone remarked on the appropriateness of this attire (the rest of me was attired "academic business"). I replied with a remark about six months of physical therapy to regain use of my upper body and arms. Never heard another peep about the matter except sympathy (from people who heard about my misfortune second-hand).

If anybody dares say something to you about your footwear, mention that spider. That should set them back a bit or raise at least a modicum of sympathy. And if it doesn't, they have no conscience and aren't worth any more of your time or concern anyway.

Saipan Writer said...

"snarachnophobic"!! Must add this to the list of snark words. (hums softly)

Saipan Writer said...

Another note to self: never attend conference with "mazement." (Must locate full identity.)