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What I Did On My Summer Vacation
(or How I Delved into the Sordid Underbelly of Fetishes on eBay)
by Tammy Peacy

It started innocently enough. I had stuff I didn’t want anymore--don’t we all? Not enough for a yard sale, but it wasn’t crap so I thought I’d give eBay a shot. A few vintage sewing buttons from my collection, a framed Coca-Cola Serigraph that I’d never hung, and Christmas decorations that I don’t have room to display. I made a hundred bucks rather quickly. Being a stay at home mom, I sometimes feel a little guilty (but only a very little) about not bringing in a paycheck, so the allure of cold hard cash for selling online hooked me in. I didn’t know it then, but I had just opened the door to the world of fetishes.

I’ve always dreamed of having a shop where people come in, and maybe if they are in the market for a jar of old buttons or a mismatched set of vintage Anchor Hocking dishes, I’d be there to fill that need. In my dream shop we serve high tea at 4 PM, with scones and crumpets. Although high tea isn’t servable on Internet auction sites, I’m fulfilling my dream of owning a shop, without renting a space or hiring help. I also get to shop for impractical “junk” without risking hubby’s disapproval. He can look at the stack of vintage sewing patterns or the pile of rhinestone clip-on earrings knowing that at the end of the week they will be boxed up and shipped out (okay, so I kept the earrings).

One day I happened upon five boxes of nylon stockings dating from the 1950s. To use a few keywords from eBay, they were “super retro foxy sexy.” And they were a steal at thirty-five cents a box. I listed them on with a ninety-nine cent starting bid and a hopeful $12.99 Buy It Now price. Within an hour the first pair sold for the Buy It Now price. I was excited (Whoo-hoo! What is that, like a million percent profit?) and a little bewildered. Why would a person want to pay that price right off the bat? Why not bid and try to get them for a few bucks less? I checked the buyer’s previous purchases to find that the majority were private, which really piqued my curiosity. Checking the available feedback I found that this person had bought vintage stockings and lingerie in the past.

A few hours into my bafflement I received an email informing me that the stockings had been paid for via PayPal. In the message box were these cryptic words, “Please wrap most discreetly.” I scrolled down and noted that the stockings were to be shipped to Bill. Not Kelly or Pat or Shannon, but Bill. Definitely a man. It made sense really. The stockings were vintage Lane Bryant in a size 12. Perfect for a man.

It turns out all five boxes were sold to men (the first customer actually came back and bought another the next day. I told you--super retro foxy sexy). This wasn’t exactly what I was expecting and I was intrigued to say the least, even more so after my next sale.

A pair of vintage house slippers, never worn, at a yard sale for fifty cents. The find of the century. I listed them for what I thought was a high $15 Buy It Now price. No sooner had I clicked the List Item For Sale button than they were sold and the money transferred into my PayPal account. I checked the buyer’s purchase history (something I like to do partly out of nosiness, but also to see what’s selling. Okay, mostly because I’m nosy) and found that he (yes, a man bought the ladies slippers, size large) had bid on and won several pairs of “well-worn” ballet slippers, flip flops and nylons.

I typed “well worn” into the search box and up popped hundreds of listings for women’s shoes, clothing and accessories. I clicked the shoe section. 286 pairs of “well worn” sandals, tennis shoes, house shoes, heels, and flip-flops. I double checked a photo of a pair of flip-flops. The feet were unmistakably male. Sure, guys wear flip-flops, but pink ones? You can paint those toenails any shade of red you want, but a man’s feet are what they are: long toed and hairy. I looked at the current high bid--$16.50. For used and obviously dirty flip-flops? My buyer had paid similarly high prices for old ballet slippers and nylons. Fred also seemed to feel the need to own vintage house shoes.

Little did I know that I had just played a role in the world of foot fetishes.

I’ve never considered myself particularly naïve in matters of alternative sex. It has always been my view that what consenting grown people do in the privacy of their own homes is of no concern to me. A matter of plain ol' none of my business. Sure, I’d heard of foot fetishes and my understanding went like this: a man into feet saw them as a starting point--a road leading up, toward the promise land.

I was mistaken.

Here’s a primer for those who, like me, thought we knew a thing or two about foot fetishes. For one, these guys have nicknames. My favorite, pulled from a website called Candi’s Worn Old Foot Fetish Shoe Store (Candi, by the way, is doing very well. She’s selling her old shoes for 80+ bucks a pop. And getting it.), is “footboy.” There are leg men, breast men, ass men, and now we have the footboys, as if their particular body part of choice delineates a lower level of maturity. For the footboys, removing the shoe and revealing the foot, taking in the “foot essence”--another phrase credited to my recent research--is on par with a non-footboy removing a woman’s bra, or probably a closer analogy, her panties.

There are sub-fetishes within the sub-culture of foot fetishism: those who want only seriously abused shoes, the holier the nylons the better, wanting to hear and see exactly the events leading up to the condition of the shoe or stocking. Some want to see the shoes stepping into mud or pressing the gas pedal in a car.

One day, after stumbling and falling into this other world, I was putting away laundry and shoved aside a wad of old nylons to make room in my top dresser drawer. I removed the tangled mess of black, fishnet, sandal toed, control top, and thigh-high pantyhose.

My heart beat a little faster. I was holding a gold mine. I unraveled the jumble of nights out with hubby, Christmas parties past, times spent dancing the night away with friends. A few had runs, not enough to be called abused, but with a little work… My thoughts drifted towards the closet in the living room, and the 60 plus pairs of shoes that my husband claims I haven’t worn except try them on at the store. Could I work in what is essentially a sex trade industry? Who would have to know that I was shipping, in packages wrapped “most discreetly,” fodder for a footboy’s fantasy? What’s a grimy pair of sweat socks or an old pair of heels between two consenting adults?

Then, standing in my bedroom, looking at the bed where I had lined up 21 pairs of stockings that I would most likely never wear again, hearing the cha-ching of my PayPal account racking up sales, a scene popped into my head: candles burning, the scent of vanilla wafting through the air. A sheer red scarf tossed over a lampshade for ambiance. Barry White’s mellow timbre plays on the stereo. And there he is, the high bidder, holding in one hand the lace topped thigh highs I wore with my silver and black dress, the sexy ones with the seams up the back, and with the other hand…

I tossed the old hose and packed up a box of shoes to take to Goodwill (more for my husband than anything). I’ll continue my little online shop, but I’ll keep out of a buyer’s previous purchases and I’ve decided to stick to my good old standby credo: it’s just plain none of my business.

Tammy Peacy is a happy housewife, an endeavor into which she pour countless hours washing laundry, watching soaps, eating bonbons, mopping floors, scrubbing toilets, and cooking delicious and well-balanced meals for her loving and appreciative family. This is her first published work.


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