Tuesday, August 22, 2006

a sandle in the wind

(my new sandals. they bring me no joy.)

There are basically two impulses that propel me to act in life. The first is a desire to be different from other people. The second is a desire to be normal.

The latter has led to radical reforms on the foot front. When I instituted my All Argyles policy in the fall--a move toward dress-sock-consistency pundits lauded as many years overdue--it didn't occur to me what to do when summer arrived and I would be wearing shorts. While many believe I should not be wearing shorts at all ever (too old, too hairy, too unrelentingly mortal and mammalian), this option was not seriously contemplated. Even so, it's been plain I've needed to do something about the socks/shoes combinations I've been wearing. Even kindly folks who never say a bad word about anything speak smack about my socks. As the saying goes: "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all, unless we're talking about Jeremy and his footwear, in which case craft your words to wound."

I don't normally spend much time attending to what other people are wearing, and certainly not to their feet. I do know people who judge the whole of people's character by their footwear. I have prided myself on not being one of those people. I have also prided myself on not caring about those judgments of those people, until I realized that such people were far more widespread than I anticipated and that my indifference to their opinion could be causing no end of professional, personal, and possibly cosmic-spiritual harm. Truly, folks, I didn't realize I was sporting a crime against humanity on my feet.

Upon careful study the feet of other men, it became plain that someone in my current general life demographic should be wearing sandals. I've never owned sandals. Sandals are not common for men in rural Iowa. I didn't really want to start wearing sandals. Last week I bought a pair of sandals. I would like to say that I am not wearing these sandals under social duress, because that makes me sound like such a wimp. I am wearing these sandals under social duress.

Here I am, wearing sandals. Am I OK now? I mean, I still don't know how to use chopsticks, and I get into cars this weird way that other people have trouble even imitating well enough to mock.

I've heard my sandals will be comfortable once I've broken them in. A woman told me this as she eagerly showed me the scars on her feet from breaking sandals in. The big toe on my right foot is bleeding. I paid $80 so my big toe could hurt and bleed and my feet could make an annoying squeaking noise when I walk. At least sandals are easy to remove, so I can walk around my office barefoot now. I paid $80 for bare feet.


nina said...

I have a friend who is two decades older than you and who did not grow up in rural Iowa but still, until this summer, had never worn sandals. Even more than you, he is not one to conform to pressure in the matter of dress. He prides himself in being able to fish five t-shirts out a Goodwill barrel and spend a buck for the set.
I didn't exactly pressure him into the sandal thing, but I did point out that he may be more comfortable in the summer with something other than the thick stuff he wears year round.
It takes him five minutes to put on the sandals and he makes a big "I'm suffering" show of it. But deep down, I am certain he loves the tickle of the wind against the bare toes.
As for the comfort thing -- maybe you should have started with flip-flops. It's the rage.

islander said...

hey... you have owned Tevas which, in my book, count as sandals even if they are not as stodgy as those you seem to be sporting today.

I wouldn't have remembered this about you if it weren't for that summer day when I walked into your office and you were wearing shorts and tevas and you had your feet up on the desk and I laughed because I realized that, as I sit at my desk the same way, I must look just as goofy.

RPS said...

To clarify, the *eagerness* to which you refer was motivated not by some strange delight at the opportunity to share my scars, but rather to convince you not to begin shaving your toes. The problem with toe shaving, of course, is that already it has you on a slippery slope, tilting precipitously towards full body electrolysis, an expensive and painful procedure that would put you woefully out of step with this Fall's fashions (see yesterday's NY Times on the "pelt" that's now all the rage - Very Full Eyebrows). At the very least, I'd encourage returning to shoes-and-socks or buying bandaids before going hairless, okay?

tina said...

Given your investment (I'm not one for sunk cost logic), you might try wearing them with your argyles for the first few days. That works for my toddler, anyway.

That said, I lived 9 years in New York without ever wearing sandals, because New York is just too gross to have my feet out there uncovered. Sandals are not the only sort of summer shoe.

jeremy said...

Islander: I'm not sure what to make of these Teva allegations. I don't really know what a Teva is.

Nina: I'm not coordinated enough for flip-flops, they fly off my feet.

RPS: I still may shave my toes.

Tina: You have argyles for your toddler? You are so hip, just like a New Yorker.

Vincent said...

Embrace what hair you have! No shaving!

Anonymous said...

Captain Crab doesn't wear sandals here in rural Iowa either. He loves his boat shoes, though. Formal for him is wearing socks.

I love my Merrel sandals and wear them from snow melt to the next frost. I have never had to break them in or suffered from bloody toes. Flip flops fly off, you're right. And I always feel like they are violating my toes by seperating them they way they do.

Anonymous said...

Birkenstocks are the best sandals. And, they're simple to put on and don't cut you.

Anonymous said...

I agree with ~pj, merrel anything is sure to wear comfortably and birkenstocks also seem more comfortable than those over priced feet-killers you are wearing. who took you shopping my friend? have them re-imburse you 50% and buy yourself a decent pair of sandles (stay away from Tevas, even if they are very comfortable, they reek of nerdy-computer-dorkness).

Rhymes With Scrabble said...

I was going to suggest you get Birkenstocks.

Also, my friend Crystal tells me that Crocs, while hideous, are the most comfortable shoes she's ever worn--and they're not even REAL Crocs; they're knock-off generic Crocs that her uncle has started selling for $10 a pair on the side of the road in southern Missouri. So if you're interested, I could hook you up.

eszter said...

What is this about shaving?!

And Tina, I'm with you on how NYC is too gross to walk around without covered feet. On my last trip earlier this summer, I took sandals with me, but luckily also had some shoes. I didn't wear the sandals once. The idea of it was too disgusting.

islander said...

Are you serious or are you messing with me?

You've never had Tevas or some other similar sports sandal?

Be serious because it's scary to learn that memories are fictions.

jeremy said...

I just looked up Tevas on Wikipedia. I also looked in my closet in case I was having some horrific lapse of footwear memory, and I also talked to a friend earlier who has close track of my clothing choices the last few years. No evidence of me owning anything Teva-like on any front. Strange.

Allen said...

Not only do I wear sandals all summer (are they Tevas? Short break to look it up on Wikipedia...yes, essentially that's what they are. I think of the style as river sandals, actually), but I also bought bike sandals this year. I have so-called "clipless" pedals on my bikes (meaning that they don't have toe clips, but actually clip onto cleats on your shoes), and for RAGBRAI I bought sandals with cleats for the bike. Having ridden my bike in to work this morning, I'm now wearing some slip-on "aqua sock" type shoes that I keep here for times when I have to cover my toes, such as when I'm working in the radiation lab.

Your sandals are pretty stodgy. I recommend getting some in Mexico with soles made from old tires, especially if you can find ones with raised white brand lettering in the tire part.

Anonymous said...

End of August and you are buying sandals? They usually are on sale by now, so you probably paid too much.
(BTW, you don't have to try to be different -- happens naturally. relax.)

jeremy said...

Yes, my stodgy sandals were on sale. They were regularly like $130.

And, yes, it is much less effortful for me to be different than to be normal.

Anonymous said...

Just in case my last statements about fashion were not blasphemous enough... I hate birkenstocks. They reek of environmental-do-gooder-I-don't-shower-every-day-to-save-water-ness. And the soles wear out unevenly. Besides, I rather like the sandals that Jeremy bought. Though I would feel just as unsettled if he shaved his toes as I did when he shaved his underarm region to wear a bridesmaid's dress to a Halloween party.

Rhymes With Scrabble said...

Jeremy: were you just dressing up as a bridesmaid, or was it a more complicated concept?

jeremy said...

It was a team costume, where several people went as Crimefighting Bridesmaids. I was a Ninja Bridesmaid, wearing a black dress.

Anonymous said...

I used to care (a little) about how others might perceive my wearing of Birks. But, they really *are* wonderful, comfortable, practical (and even fashionable?) sandALs. As for workmanship, my prior pair lasted ~10 years. I recycle and vote Democrat, but that's about the extent of my environmentalism (if you can call it that). I also shower at least once a day. So, while the Birk stereotype may contain a grain of truth, in major metropolitan areas, Birk-wearers are a more diverse bunch than the prior commenter's post suggests.