A few months ago, I applied to a job on Craigslist. This isn’t out of the ordinary. I run a writing business and browse the writing ads on Craigslist with regularity. My interest is piqued when I come across ads looking for fiction writers. “You mean you want to pay me to write fiction?” my eager brain asks. “Yes, please!”
In this case, the ad I found was a bit…interesting. It went like this:
I am interested in having a short story written, about 3 to 5 pages in length, the concept being a twenty- or thirty-something professional woman who wears high heels regularly despite suffering foot problems. The style could be 3rd person, in the manner of “chick lit.” It could also be first person, in the style of a blog entry. What is a “day in the life” like of a woman who willingly sacrifices comfort and the health of her feet for excruciatingly beautiful shoes?
To say an alarm didn’t go off in my head screaming “Weird” at the top of its warbley lungs would be, of course, a lie. But being the desperate writer that I am, I applied anyway. I thought hey, maybe this person is trying to use a social media slant for selling shoes. Or maybe it’s supposed to be for a women’s site or publication with a funny take on “the things we do for beauty.” Turns out, I should have trusted my instincts.
My application apparently impressed. A man responded saying I seemed perfect for the task. He wanted to know what approach I would take to this story. I shot back a quick response saying I could write about a retail worker who wears extremely fashionable shoes to bring a bit of glamour to her day. Apparently, he loved this idea and wanted to chat via IM.
Luckily, I had already Googled this individual by then. Needless to say, I didn’t respond to his last e-mail or agree to a chat. I did the closest thing to running away from a person online possible: ignore, ignore, ignore.
So, what did my crafty* Googling turn up?
First of all, a Twitter account devoted to shoes. Specifically, “sexy” shoes. He made numerous @ replies to women asking what shoes they were wearing and if they’d spent tons of money of shoes.
I’m talking shoe fetish, here. And not that cutesy, “oh I love to buy shoes so I have a shoe fetish” thing so many people like to dish out. I mean a real deal, legitimate shoe fetish. Unfortunately, that’s not where this story ends.
Apparently, this guy doesn’t just love super high heeled shoes. He loves shoes that make women’s feet hurt. I’m sure the shoes themselves are mighty interesting, but the fact that they cause a woman pain give him undeniable pleasure.
*Okay, so it wasn’t crafty. Just typing in a name, really. At least he wasn’t hiding his kinks.
Even worse, he loves it when women have bunions. He even asked women on Twitter when/if they were having painful surgery on their painful bunions. This led me to discover the account of another writer who came across a similar ad he’d posted months earlier and who had taken this thing a step further: she actually wrote him a story. From her account, it wasn’t a bad experience, and who am I to judge? I just got weirded out with the prospect of having to converse with this guy.
Because it seemed very much to me that he didn’t just want a story written (that it seems he would’ve actually paid for) but he wanted that conversation. The lead up to the end result was very much a part of the experience. I would have been asked questions about my shoes, then my feet, then any defects my feet had. I would have been asked for pictures. And I just couldn’t deal with that.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m no prude. I’ve taken a stab at erotica and would write it again. But this just wasn’t my thing.
At the end of the day, this guy wanted a relationship with whomever was writing his stories, even in just an imaginary way. And while you can’t control what people think of you, it is possible to avoid making yourself (or your feet) a person’s fetishistic target to some extent. It sort of makes you want to cover your body in a wool scarf, doesn’t it? Damn, someone out there’s probably into that, too.
Thank god I didn’t mention I used to dance and have real life, non-imaginary (albeit, tiny) bunions.
Have you encountered oddness while searching for work? Share your stories below!