The shoes felt fine in the store. They even felt good when I tramped around the house one Saturday in an effort to “break them in.” But the day I decided to wear them to work, they suddenly didn’t fit.

They were the same size I’ve worn for years; a larger size would be too big.

I thought maybe if I endured the pain they would eventually stretch out, but by noon I could barely hobble to my car to go home and change shoes.

I tossed them in the far corner of the closet, hoping never to see them again.

The other day, while looking for another offensive object that I remembered also tossing to the back of the closet, I found the shoes.

I remembered the hateful morning I’d tried to wear them and decided it was time to throw them away since I hadn’t even put them back on. However, when I got close to the trash can, the “tight wad” in me roared her ugly head and I had second thoughts.

The shoes are practically brand new and still stylish; maybe I should give them another try.

To say I slipped into the shoes would be an outright fabrication of the truth. I actually wished a shoe horn would magically appear, although none did. The shoes were so tight I didn’t even risk taking a step in them.

Not to be beaten by a pair of shoes, I started researching shoe stretching. One article said to use a hair dryer. “Put on several pairs of socks and force your feet into the shoes, then soften the leather with the warm air from the dryer to stretch the leather,” the article said.

Knowing my feet and several pairs of socks were never going to be forced into those shoes, I stuffed the shoes with sock balls and blew enough hot air on them to launch a hot air balloon.

The next article said to fill two zip-top baggies with water, stuff the baggies down in the shoes and put them the freezer. When the water freezes, it will stretch the shoes ... or so goes the logic.

Next time you’re bored, try filling a baggie with water and holding it steady while zipping the top closed; hint — do it over the sink, otherwise you’ll have a nice little mess to clean up.

Thinking how stupid I felt putting my water-filled shoes in the freezer, I couldn’t help but wonder how long it would take the chunks of ice to melt so I could see if the shoes had stretched.

They didn’t, by the way — stretch that is.

Finally I read an article that said I needed to buy some stretching spray. There’s a stretching spray? Who knew?

It’s on my shopping list next time I’m in a store that might sell such a product. Meanwhile, I’ve removed the irritating shoes from my sight. You guessed it — they’re in the back of the closet.

Linda Brown is marketing director for The Ottawa Herald. Email her at