In the slang of my youth, “roundheels” was a picturesque way of describing a woman of easy virtue, “a broad that at the slightest provocation falls backwards into a face-up horizontal position.” The term, a sexualized version of “pushover,” meant that the heels of her shoes have become rounded from being pushed over backwards so many times. I absolutely loved the term. It reminded me of the rubber BOBO clown my children used to play with; you knocked it down and it popped right back up. “Roundheels,” aren’t so quick to get back on their feet, that’s not the idea.
Since the Sexual Revolution of the sixties, you don’t hear the expression any more; it’s obsolete. It’s the poor men who keep getting knocked down by a new class of aggressive women, not victims any more. There’s even a Garage Band called “Roundheels” but from what I’ve heard on You Tube, they’d be better off on their backs than in front of an audience.
I find the term applicable today, not to acquiescent women, but to local politics. I was once asked what it took to get nominated to one of the city’s Land Use Boards. I replied (with bitterness) that you either had to be “bought,” i.e. were in it for some personal gain, or, too stupid to know what was going on and just voted the way you were told. Anyone who asks probing questions in city government quickly becomes marginalized and eventually eliminated. This to me is a far worse example of moral turpitude that some poor girl who just wants to be liked. As a long-time observer of (and participant in) local politics, I am appalled at the prevalence of “Roundheels” in civic life.
A couple of nights ago I attended a public hearing regarding a new city contract. For at least a half dozen reasons, it was a terrible deal for the city, would cost the taxpayers close to a million dollars more than the alternative and even worse, rob the city of a landmark building on its original site. Out of a large audience that filled the room, only one person spoke in favor of the contract; everyone else knew that the city was going to be the significant loser. Several members of the review board recognized what a bad deal it was and refused to fall in line, but it was evident that city’s political leadership was behind the new contract and let it be known that they wanted it passed. Roundheels, remember? Just a push from the Mayor’s office and all judgment vanishes. Despite its flaws, the contract will probably be approved.
Just a week earlier, another city board reviewed the “Sweetheart” deal someone who claimed to be “on speed dial” with a top State official had received from the local Board of Education. It made no sense for this contract to be renewed, but, much to everyone’s surprise, the measure to rewrite the contract with better terms for the city miraculously disappeared and the “old buddy” contract remained in place.
My hometown is not the only place guilty of nepotism, corruption and the prevalence of Roundheels. When I googled the term, aside from the expected sexual innuendoes, I came across a blog from someplace called McHenry County (no idea where it is) that went:
“Summing Up the Round Heels of Legislatures Past and Present”
The title tells it all. I could write it myself.