"Hey, those look good."

"Mmmm, well, they feel good."

"They look good, too."

"Oh, you've got to be kidding me," I winced. "They're ghastly!"

The salesman laughed. "Yeah, I hear that a lot."

Together we stood before a full-length mirror and regarded the spectacle of my feet in what used to be called "sensible" shoes.

In this case, sensible had mated with something from a robot transport in a galaxy far, far away to produce a pair of sandals with monstrous cork soles, orth-o-rama arch support and horrific metallic leather straps embedded with faux gems.

The sandals looked terrible. There was nothing fashionable about them, nothing elegant or classic or refined, in fact, nothing to recommend them -- except that they felt heavenly.

Oh, they were comfortable! A person's toes could breathe in sandals like these! A woman could walk for days in such footwear and scarcely know it, for the gazellelike lightness the shoes conveyed.

"The thing is," I told the salesman, whose name was Fred, "I'm going to be doing a lot of city walking next week. So I really do need to be able to walk comfortably, but these are just -- blech."

Fred laughed.

"I'm sorry, I don't mean to insult your products. It's just ..."

"I know," he said kindly. "Believe me, a lot of people have the same issue. Especially women."

"Well, it's hard for us!"

It is. It is! Probably everyone knows the saying about how, at a certain point in life, every woman must choose between her face and her backside, that she must choose either the combination of slim hindquarters and haggard face or fuller face and bigger bottom.

Well, there's a foot version of this dilemma, and I was right in the middle of it. Somewhere around the midpoint in almost every woman's life, she must begin to reckon with another painful calculus. Will she continue wearing dainty, fashionable, feminine footwear, and suffer foot pain? Or will she whisk about effortlessly on happy feet enclosed in wide, supportive, mortifying ortho shoes? With faux gems?

Thanks to the baby boom generation, this transition is getting easier, for sure. A woman certainly has many more options now than to wear dowdy nurse shoes -- no offense, nurses -- and technology is continually bringing us springier soles and more merciful fit.

As I stood there contemplating the metallic robot sandals, I could draw comfort from the knowledge that when my own daughters reach this point, Jimmy Choo's successors will have figured out how to pair exquisite style with glorious comfort. We just aren't there yet.

"I don't want wear them," I told Fred, "but to be honest, I don't want to take them off, either."

"May I suggest a solution?" he asked. "Wear them. But just don't look down!"

We looked at each other in the mirror and laughed out loud together. It was the perfect way out, and I took it.

Meghan Cox Gurdon's column appears on Sunday and Thursday. She can be contacted at mgurdon@washington examiner.com.