Friday, February 17, 2012

Do You Have These In a Nine?

Footwear. From strapped-in sandals, to strappy stilettos, every foot gets adorned a different way for each different scenario. I have a friend with enough shoes to not repeat once in an average month. Amazingly enough, this is a significant scaling down from the hundred plus pairs that she had, not so long ago. In contrast, another friend regularly goes without shoes, even amidst the winter frost. It helps her feel connected to the earth, she asserts. Which, I guess, is a good thing? In winter, I’m mostly just thankful for my woolen socks. 

As ubiquitous and sometimes flatly ignored as footwear is, when it is on, it garners a lot of thought in the getting ready process, and some really strong opinions in conversation. I should know. I have them. I really love nice shoes. As a child I wanted a pair of shoes that sparkled with the shine of military dress uniforms. I relentlessly polished my Sunday shoes never accepting the fact that maximum shine is limited based on the design of the shoes. The media also contributed to my shoe afinity. I had a pair of black and white saddle shoes that I wore with pride, because they looked just like the ones that Bert from Sesame Street rocked.

In later years, my attachment moved from solely asthetic, to functional as well. I had a pair of ratty cowboy boots which I wore relentlessly, not just because I liked their look, which I did. Mostly I kept them on because I could almost instantly build up a good sized static electricity shock when I wore them. And if that's not function, I don't know what is. I just wish I would have listened when I was told that maybe I shouldn’t tuck my pants into my boots. Cowboy chic is not the chic for me.

I’ve had some odd mishaps with shoes and fire, as well. Including one long cold day at camp sitting by the fire at the end of the night, in which staring at the fire with my outstretched legs, resulted in my smoking and bubbled up soles. I guess the smoke wasn’t an optical illusion after all. Or when, after stumbling into an enormous ice puddle, I suspended my hiking boots over the wood stove to dry, and returned to find three mysterious singe marks on the boot and no other sign of trauma. I never figured that one out. 

My strongest stance on footwear is best expressed in the words of the comic Demetri Martin, “When you get dressed, you’re really making a statement. Like, if you put on flip-flops you’re saying, ‘I hope I don’t get chased today.’” I understand the appeal of going shoeless, really I do. But a flip-flop on its best day,  chafes between your toes, and requires an odd looking walk just to maintain the position of the shoe, relative to the ground and your foot. While I won’t be wearing flip-flops anytime soon, if you and I are hanging out together, and you’re wearing them, I’ll be as happy as a clam. ‘Cause, no matter how you protest, I can run faster in my sneakers than you can in your flip-flops…or barefoot. So, if it hits the fan, I’ll be the one to tell the tale. But I’ll tell everyone, that you went out, a flippy-floppy hero.

Walk on.