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Five Great Lessons from Finishing School: Part 1, The Way I Walk | Manolo for the Big Girl

Five Great Lessons from Finishing School: Part 1, The Way I Walk

As I mentioned yesterday is has been raining in Austin for the past three days, which is like a year and a half in Texas time, and since the Volvo is in the shop I have been partaking in the varied smells and delights of public transportation.

Now you’d think I would be anti-bus, what with me hating poor people and the environment and all, but you would be wrong; I heart the bus.

See, deep down (okay, not that deep down) I’m one of those Southerners who will have a conversation with anybody about anything (as long as it’s decent) and there are few things that give me more delight than asking how someone’s mama is.  Sometimes I ask even if I don’t really know the person, because they won’t know they haven’t said anything and odds are if you live in the South, you will ALWAYS have a story about your mama.

So that part of the bus is awesome, as is getting exercise first thing in the morning.  The part I do not relish is getting caught in the rain.

One might suspect that a girl who collects silk umbrellas wouldn’t get caught without one very often. Well, one would be wrong. Sometimes I’ll remember to take an umbrella, but odds are I’ll leave it somewhere.  If the homeless citizenry of Austin have, on average, a posher collection of parapluies  than the average city it’s mostly because I have personally bumbershot them all myself.  See also: Ray-Ban Classic Wayfarers (in tortoiseshell, if you please).

That being said, if you DO get caught in the rain there is an excellent life lesson to be learned (and it’s not “stop forgetting your stupid umbrella, you dingdong.”)

Walk gracefully in the rain.

I know, I know, it doesn’t make any sense, but trust me. Shoulders back, head up (like that little neck scrunch is going to do a darn thing to keep you dry anyway) determined –or at least not miserable– look and purposeful steps.

The moral of the story is this:

If you can walk with dignity in the rain, you can walk with dignity anywhere.

You can walk with dignity when you’ve been entirely humiliated by an ex-boyfriend, you can walk with dignity when you’ve been turned down for a promotion or laid off. You can walk with dignity even if you’ve just show the publisher of your newspaper your rear-end (festooned with Laundry Day Undies) because it’s the ONE FREAKIN’  DAY you forgot to wear a slip. You can walk with dignity and command a room before you even open your mouth if you’re called on to make a speech, and for safety reasons, you can walk with dignity down a dark street at night and make potential baddies think twice about messing with you.

How many of us really pay attention to our walks? And yet they say so much. Remember that scene in Pretty Woman when Julia Roberts lopes like a linebacker through the hotel lobby? Or Mister Humphries adorable mince in Are You Being Served?  What about John Wayne in pretty much everything? Just as much –perhaps more– than clothing, your walk defines how people see you and what’s better: it doesn’t cost a dime.
And for a little added tuition in the ambulatory arts, let’s hear from Professor Lux Interior and the rest of The Cramps playing The Way I Walk, live at Napa State Mental Hospital, 1978.

23 Responses to “Five Great Lessons from Finishing School: Part 1, The Way I Walk”

  1. Janey April 20, 2010 at 2:44 pm #

    You walk in the rain like an Oregonian. (That’s a compliment.)

  2. France April 20, 2010 at 3:11 pm #

    Oh Plummie, I am so glad to hear your voice of reason and class (CLASS PLUS!) today. I was more than a little disappointed to read a comment by a well-respected member of a popular women’s network.

    Re: one’s sex life after marriage

    ‘It probably helps if you’re not one of those wives who puts on so much weight she becomes a non-sexual being to her husband. ‘

    Said commentator frequently complains about misogyny and discrimination.

  3. Plumcake April 20, 2010 at 3:30 pm #

    @Janey…”Oregonian”…that’s a made-up word. (and thanks!)

    @Frances, wow. I’m all for keeping up your sexual allure after you’re married, but if putting on weight makes you unattractive to the point of being a non-sexual being to your husband then I think not bumping uglies is the least of the worries in that marriage. Yowza.

  4. Geogrrl April 20, 2010 at 3:45 pm #

    Totally, Plummie.

    Being able to walk (or walk away) with dignity confers an enormous psychological advantage.

  5. LL April 20, 2010 at 3:48 pm #

    I believe I saw you walking (in a very dignified way) downtown yesterday. If it was you, cute shoes!! If it wasn’t, I’m sure you’re still wearing cute shoes.

  6. La Petite Acadienne April 20, 2010 at 6:12 pm #

    Yes! A confident, womanly walk is incredibly powerful. Several years ago, the organizer of a local beauty pageant asked me to give the contestants a lesson on how to properly stand and walk. Beforehand, they were shuffling in flip-flops, with horrendous posture. It made their pretty gowns look like a joke. By the time I was through with them, they all had excellent posture, they were walking with poise (in heels, no less), and I got phone calls from several mothers afterwards thanking me.

    So if you know how to walk in the first place, and THEN you learn how to walk with dignity, no matter what life throws at you, you have a serious tool at your disposal.

  7. Jeanine April 20, 2010 at 8:33 pm #

    My mom taught me this at a very young age.

    If I could just get that Monique walk from the Academy Awards, I’d have a complete arsenal of walks at my disposal.

    Seriously, it’s the best accessory to ANY outfit.

    Can’t wait for the rest of this series.

  8. Twistie April 20, 2010 at 9:22 pm #

    I love my walk. I walk with confidence. I walk with style.

    In fact, the only walk I like better than the one I have is John Cleese’s silly walk. As it happens, I can do it, but it lacks a certain amount of Cleese’s panache since I don’t have nearly as long legs.

  9. Jeni April 20, 2010 at 9:46 pm #

    I have been told I have a “b*tch walk”. I have no idea if this was meant as a compliment but I’m taking it as one! I walk very tall, shoulders back, head up and with a just slightly but not quite look that my room mate calls my “get out of my way you pee-ons!” face. It works, people move! It may or may not be because I happen to be 5’10” and about a size 26/28. You move or I will walk over you.

    That being said I have the awful habit of suddenly thinking about how I walk and I somehow just forget how…I cant be the only one who does this…..right?!? Its like breathing or blinking. You do it without thinking about it until you do think about it and then suddenly your either blinking/breathing too fast or slow or whatever.

    I also loose all my “cool” when it comes to stairs. I have a depth perception problem. I CANNOT walk down the stars without looking at them and going slow. If I try to walk like everyone else I just end up flat on my butt at the bottom. Oh how I wish I could be like everyone I see on campus and just walk down the freaking stairs without thinking/looking first!

  10. jen209 April 20, 2010 at 10:35 pm #

    You didn’t mention one of my favorite things about riding public transportation (which I do multiple times every day): the people watching. I spend my morning commute scrutinizing all the outfits, and the afternoon commute coming up with stories in my head about what people do and what their day was like. The eaves dropping is also often good.

  11. Laura April 20, 2010 at 11:05 pm #

    Jeni — trust me, that walk works at 5’2″, too.

  12. LPSFashion April 20, 2010 at 11:13 pm #

    Great post. The way you walk tells a lot about your confidence, and no woman should “tuck tail” and let someone know they’ve got the best of her. The way you walk and carry yourself is one of the most powerful, sexiest qualities anyone can have.

  13. Manolo the Shoeblogger April 20, 2010 at 11:49 pm #

    This may be hard to credence, but the Manolo has attended more than one Cramps show.

  14. Jo April 21, 2010 at 6:47 am #

    I’m reminded of a passage in “Another Roadside Attraction” (love you, Robbins!) in which the two main characters were described as walking in such a way that made it clear that the Seattle rain didn’t bother them, as the rain was there before they were.

    The hunch-and-scuttle has no place in anyone’s repertoire of walks. Unless, of course, it’s hailing baseball-sized ice chunks and the tornado sirens have just gone off. Then you can scuttle to your heart’s content.

  15. Carol April 21, 2010 at 8:30 am #

    I got a job in high school doing Saturday reading hour as “The Princess” because of the way I walked into the library. Several people over the years have complimented me on my walk and the way I carry myself. Mr. Carol said it was one of the first things he noticed about me and made him want to get to know me. Confidence and a good stride can do many things to help you through life.

  16. Plumcake April 21, 2010 at 10:27 am #

    @Benevolent Overlord: That doesn’t surprise me at all. The Manolo has untold depths of hipness. Now if you’d been at THAT show, that would’ve been hard to credence.

    @LPSFashion: Sing it. Out of the many things my tail can do, tucking isn’t one of them.

    @Jen209:
    Very true. I love making up backstories. “What life choices led up to that young man getting that particular neck tattoo?”

  17. marjorie April 21, 2010 at 12:48 pm #

    you know what makes it hard to walk like a mensch in the rain when you forget your parapluie? GLASSES, THAT’S WHAT. I CAN’T SEE.

  18. Leigh Ann April 21, 2010 at 2:51 pm #

    I have bad eyesight too (sucky depth perception). Combine that with inborn clumsiness and I’m likely to trip over a curb at any minute. Also, I have rheumatoid arthritis, so tend to shuffle on bad days. Nice. Altogether, NOT confidence enhancing. But I do try to remind myself to hold my head up and put my shoulders back. No need to hunch.

  19. TeleriB April 22, 2010 at 7:55 am #

    @marjorie, word. I did get to try and practice what’s preached here, as we had rain in DC yesterday. I think you get fairly decent results if you stand straight, shoulders back, then tuck chin and stride out. The tucked chin keeps the rain mostly off the glasses, and the combination of straight shoulders and a brisk but unhurried stride bespeaks confidence. It’s not as strong a statement as chin up would be, but it does mean I can see.

  20. Miss Conduct April 22, 2010 at 10:41 am #

    Heh. I received MANY hours of walking tutorials from my mother and grandmother, in whose opinion my walk still leaves much to be desired. In particular, walking confidently and with grace in heels is a learned skill; about 9 of 10 women look like Tyrannosauruses. In dogs the kind of walk Plumcake describes correlates to dominance.

  21. Abby April 22, 2010 at 2:00 pm #

    Oh, Lux. Damn I love the Cramps. A man shakes it and a woman handles the hardware.

  22. Larry April 26, 2010 at 2:39 am #

    Great post. The way you walk tells a lot about your confidence, and no woman should “tuck tail” and let someone know they’ve got the best of her. The way you walk and carry yourself is one of the most powerful, sexiest qualities anyone can have.

  23. emmme April 26, 2010 at 1:51 pm #

    I can’t walk to save my life, but I stand like nobody’s business. My posture is so straight that it hurts to slouch, but hell, I’m just rather uncoordinated. Mr. Emmme says I walk like someone pantomiming walking, which is an improvement from my teenage years.
    I think getting out of cars gracefully would make another great post. So many young women do it like they’re climbing a fence. Open door, knees together, twist at the hip and noone sees the underpants!