Doc Martens

"My walk home is sacred."
By Al Bedell

I tell people I like the month of February because it’s my Birthday Month- “the pinkest, cutest, most Heart-Shaped month of the year.” My whole Thing is cardigans, hair bows, oysters in the afternoon, cats and puppies. I maintain a host of artificial signifiers in order to project a naïve, celibate, and “Pure” persona, but I wish it could be real. Telling passive aggressive jokes, being quirky, going out without makeup – “This is my new Pinterest board about Tea Parties.” Pleated mini skirts and loafers “in the club,” hiding in the bathroom at a rave like a timid girl. I am a timid girl. I’m not strong and I am afraid of everything. I’m even afraid of my best friends sometimes. If I could live in myCountry Strong Pinterest board based on the Gwyneth Paltrow movie, I would. Illusions of pearl necklaces, fancy desserts and knitting patterns make me feel safe. I only want to feel safe. 

Chastity is the thing I “value,” or the thing I want people to believe I “value.” I guess I don’t really value anything.  

I wish I were a child still. I wish I had a childhood abundant with cupcakes, dinner parties, lawn chairs. I wish I were a porcelain doll on a shelf, occasionally brushed by a maid with a feather duster.

February is the shortest month and I’m grateful for that. I like brevity. In such a brief month you can be whatever you want. You can change your persona, your entire existence, if you feel like it. You can do whatever you want in 28 days.

I upgraded to 
Spotify Premium and fell back in love with music. Lorde and Lana drenched my ears through my uncomfortable buds (I think my ears are abnormally shaped because all of my headphones hurt) during my Commuter Train to work and my Commuter Walk home. 5 days a week. 6 miles a day. Whatever.

My walk home is sacred. My tired feet deliver my hungover body through 14 neighborhoods, or six miles and two hours with Spotify Premium. I use my Walk to sync my playlists so I can listen to them on the train the next morning. The Walk is long but it allows me to cloud my relentless train commute with songs that I

A playlist titled Moody Girls is lengthened - Lorde, Lana, Fiona, Veruca, Cat P, Liz Phair. I have a significant Spotify Relationship with Liz Phair. Her songs about sex, men and Self Worth resonate with me. 

“I wanna be Cool, Tall, Vulnerable and Luscious”

“Give me your Hot White Cum” 

“It’s nice to be Liked but it’s better by far to get Paid.”

Being a girl in New York isn’t easy, and it’s hardly fun, but you can make people believe it’s glamorous – Gritty and Glamorous. It’s totally okay to use men for money and it’s equally fine to let men use you for sex. It’s an exchange, a Buy and Sell situation. Strike while the iron is hot. Sex, Money, Glamour – New York City.

In NYC you have to be Hot, Cool, Determined, Well-Liked, and most of all, Resilient. Pinterest boards and fantasies of cotillions and spring picnics don’t get you anywhere. It’s nice to be respectful but it’s better by far to be respected. And to gain respect, you need money, Shit Loads of Money.

I don’t want these friendship bracelets or CZ studs in my ears. I don’t even want to love animals anymore. I want to be hot and edgy, wear leather, make money, outsmart men, take advantage of men. I’m sick of my butterfly clips, my Juicy Couture perfume, my ballet flats and penny loafers. “I only buy orthopedic shoes” I announce to anyone who will listen. I want everyone to be aware of this Portrait of Purity I’m trying to depict.  

I bought orthopedic shoes on sale once, another impulsive purchase to make myself feel high for about 20 minutes. They didn’t have my size so I bought a pair a half size smaller. They were marked down from $85 to $30. 

Two hours later during my Walk home, I had orthopedic blisters. I was limping in $30 orthopedic flats that were not even cute. 

I may as well limp in shoes that make me feel Strong and Resilient. I need resilient shoes, shoes that demand respect. Liz Phair wore Doc Martens and I can wear Doc Martens too. Bouncing Soles. Resilient. Made in the UK. Made to Last. Country Strong. I can limp for $200.

I just want a nice life for myself and for all of my beloved friends. We remind ourselves, everyday, that this Struggle is worth it. You have to struggle in New York. It’s a thing everyone talks about – it’s trite but true. Some of the truest things are the most trite. Platitude feels Safe. Strike while the Iron is Hot. is a website for Exchanges. Men reveal how much they are worth and Young-Girls allude to how much they should be worth based on short bio’s with buzzwords like ‘Ballerina, Yoga Addict, All Girls School, Post-Grad, New to the City, an Animal Lover, Great with Kids, Whip-Smart, a Great Conversationalist, Wack Slut, Daddy Issues.’

In the ‘Expectations for a First Date’ box I wrote ‘Rest assured, someone’s gonna laugh.’ 

I tweet from my cubicle: ‘Can I pull off Doc Martens?’ A resounding ‘Yes, 
@_YOUNGBABY_, yes.’ $200 debt now.

Feeling Country Strong in my Doc Martens, I go to work and write about blouses for 8 hours (I’m a catalog copywriter and I write about clothing for 8 hours everyday.) Check and I receive some offers: $41, $12, $99, $250. $250 eliminates the debt for my Doc’s. In just two hours, my shoes of Resilience would be covered. I can keep doing this, I can make rent, I can be a Gritty Glamorous NYC Girl. 

I make a new email account –; I’m Ally Marie on this website and it doesn’t matter because men on don’t care about your name. They care about your photos and “Conversational Skills” apparently. “I’m Ally Marie, Young Baby, a Great Conversationalist, I love animals and architecture.”

I sweat more than I usually do in my cubicle as I prepare for my Reverse Walk of Shame at 5:15 PM. I compose so many future tweets in my head for my first Paid Date. I want to make it seem Gritty and Glamorous but I just feel scared. 

I’m not actually Pure, I’m wearing Doc’s, feeling resilient and about to take a lonely man’s money. I’m Whip Smart and Country Strong. @_YOUNGBABY_ is a Struggling Edgy Bitch. 

Of course it’s raining. Even in February, it’s always raining in New York. It adds to the allure of the Glamorous Struggle. Sometimes I hope it rains forever. Or just for the next 28 days. I want my Glamorous Struggle to be cloudy, veiled in snarky tweets and Spotify playlists and vodka and shit loads of rain. I don’t want to remember it anyway. I promise myself that the struggle is worth it and it will be brief. My 30’s will be truly glamorous (or just normal, content, comfortable, safe.)

From 34
th to 52nd street I begin my Reverse Walk of Shame. I notice the backs of my ankles rubbing against my strong Doc’s. “The rain will soften the leather,” I think. I’m breaking my new resilient shoes in and it’s just a brief struggle. 

I’m early for the $Date (I’m always early) and my feet hurt – I haven’t felt this kind of foot pain since I had to break in my first Pointe Shoes. “As an ex-ballerina, I love the Ballet, the Opera and Art!” I wrote in my bio.

An Ex-Ballerina.

I was the youngest student to get pointe shoe privileges. I had ‘Talent and Promise.’ I wanted to be a ballerina – a porcelain doll – pink frills, butterflies, swans, tiaras, all of that. I was a dancer and dancers sacrifice their feet for beauty, perfection, validation. Those wooden shoes were going to make me stronger and more beautiful, delicate peach slippers ($95) made of satin and wood, designed to help me glide with elegance and control. It only takes a week to break pointe shoes in if you do it right, although some dancers take hammer and fire to their pointe shoes. Pointe shoes have to mold to your feet, to your movement. The shoes work for you once you train them. For one week, you’re possessed by the agony of the shoe, but after that the shoes are yours. You are strong enough to bourrée across the floor on your tippy toes, supported by pointe shoes. You are in control and your shoes just support you. 

“My Docs took three weeks to break in. It’s painful but worth it in the end. And these boots will last for years. Best $200 I ever spent.” I google ‘how to break in doc martens’ while I wait for my $Date to arrive. 

@_YOUNGBABY_: of course im early and of course it’s raining

I walk into the lounge and apologize to the beautiful hostess for my attire. Everyone is wearing high heels and black dresses. And yeah, I’m wearing a mini skirt and fresh Doc Martens. 

Only a few minutes pass and I see my $Date, a sad old man just relieved of his finance job in midtown. I was sure to mention in my bio that I work in midtown. It’s convenient.

“Hi, I’m Ally.” I can’t believe I’m Ally Marie right now. Lying about my name feels more uncomfortable than my constricted, blistering feet. We sit on low, cushioned cubes. He asks me what I do, what I’ve done, and what I like to do. It actually feels nice to have a human being feign interest in me for a little while. I lie, or maybe I don’t, I tell him that my only dream in life is to travel. “I want to see the whole world!” Once I was told by a seasoned escort to seem as naïve as possible. I don’t think I want to see the whole world. I barely want to see my own world. I’m grateful for the fog and the rain. 

He talks about his children (they’re my age) and his wife (he loves her but they only fuck twice a month,) and what he is looking for on  He would like to pay me a weekly $500 to be his “Girlfriend,” go out to eat and get a hotel room where he can “touch me gently.” He says he doesn’t want to cheat on his wife and he’d never fuck me, just touch and kiss me.

I order another martini cocktail thing called The Trouble Maker and we laugh about me being a Trouble Maker. The Trouble Maker cocktail was $18. By the time our 2 hour session/$Date is over, I finish four Trouble Makers. 

I excuse myself and do poppers in the bathroom. I call my best friend, “Oh my GOD this is the easiest money I’ve ever made!” She says she’s going to make a WYP account ASAP. High on poppers, I tell her “YOU MUST.”

“I like you because you’re not another Young Girl. You can hold a conversation and you make me feel special.” Rest assured, I’m a great conversationalist/liar.

He reaches for his drink and knocks the glass over. Fumbling to catch it, the glass lands on the marble floor and cuts his hand. His hand is bleeding and I ask a gorgeous waitress for napkins. I wrap some napkins around his ring finger and he holds my hand for what begins to feel like 28 days.

We leave the lounge and find out that we both smoke cigarettes even though we both wrote that we were ‘Non-Smokers’ in our bios. He is still holding my hand. I wish poppers lasted longer. He takes my face into his napkin-bandaged hands and starts to kiss me as I try not to wince. I let him kiss me in the February rain for a few minutes, trying to focus on my damaged feet. “I love these fucking shoes,” I play on mental loop.

“Which train are you taking?” 

“The A,” I lied, “it’s right down the street.” He says he wants to make this a weekly Thing and I tell him “That sounds so, so good.” I kiss him on the lips again. I want to inhale more poppers. 

Two hours, basically 28 days later, I’m free to walk from 54
th St back to my Bushwick abode. I walk past Grand Central and think about taking the Metro North to my dad’s house in Poughkeepsie. 

@_YOUNGBABY_: I want to be in a twin sized bed and feel safe and warm

I never want to be touched again and I miss my dad. My dad would cry if he knew what I just did. He’d probably even give me rent money. 

With an envelope of $250 in my Coach bag and Resilient $200 boots on my feet, I continue to walk. In an attempt to distract myself from the tears welling on my cheekbones, I focus on the liquid pain in my shoes. I’m definitely bleeding. Good. 

It’s still raining and I’m only on 42
nd Street. My “Moody Girls” playlist is on. I relish the cloudy feeling that is empowerment and defeat like it’s brand new. My feet hurt so badly but it’s worth it. 

I get to Delancey Street and decide to pay $2.50 for the train. I have just walked over 50 blocks, my feet feel foreign and I have money to spend. I sit down in the train and watch everyone look at me. I know they know. They know the exact type of bullshit a Young Porcelain Doll in new leather boots just got herself into.

I get back to my house, untie and peel the Doc’s from my feet. My socks are wet with blood. I throw my money on the floor and stare at it. Then I pick it up and hug it like a teddy bear. 

Next morning I wake up with the lights still on and arrive to my job in midtown at 8:46 AM. I like February because it is heart-shaped and the pinkest, but, most importantly, I like February because it is the shortest.

From Sex Magazine #7 Spring 2014
Labelled Life