hippie sandal-wearing freaks

It really wasn't planned. Honest. Except that I'd been dozing on the couch, and then I snapped awake with the horrid realization that I was planning on three weeks' worth of out-of-state trips in the not-too-distant future, and that one pair of sneakers, one pair of jeans, and two pair of shorts just weren't going to cut it.

Clothing. Needed. Now.

Somewhere in a snoozy doze I thought, hmm, maybe I should wander down to Hancock's and shop for fabric. A couple of simple skirts to go with my sweaters would make packing for long trips much, much easier. That is, I thought, if I could find anything I liked.

I like good fabrics for skirts. Silks. Rayons. Etc. Perhaps it's amusing that someone who dresses as plainly as me has a secret taste for luxury fabrics, but anyone who has stayed with me knows that I have about four pair of pajamas that are either satin or silk, all of which I absolutely adore. It's a personality quirk of mine, but I just happen to think that life is far too short to lounge around in itchy clothing.

So I went shopping, and there it was, sitting near the bridal section, shimmering away in my absolute favorite colors. If it had arms, it would be waving them at me, yelling, "I'm supposed to go home with you!"

Thankfully, clothing doesn't talk. That would just be disturbing.

My color palette of clothing is somewhat limited. I know what colors prevent me from looking cadaverous, and I stick to them: blues, greens, purples; neutrals like black, gray, and white; the occasional deep red when the mood strikes. Or, as I tell people who are trying to help me find clothes, "if it's a peacock color, chances are good that I'll wear it."

The rayon was a warp-one-color and weft-another, a blue-green in one direction and a purple in the other. My amusement was palpable when I lifted the fabric to find the price and discovered the fabric was named "Peacock."

Three yards came home with me. Wrist permitting, they'll be cut out tomorrow.†

Afterwards, I sat in the car, asking myself what the hell I'd done, plain-Jane-domesticat like me, buying such a shimmery blue-and-purple thing?

I decided to look for shoes.

Doesn't sound like much to you, I'm sure, but with the exception of dragon*con footwear, I generally purchase shoes once every other year. I order a pair of sneakers made to fit my oddball tiny feet, and wear them until they are just about ready to fall apart. When they show signs of imminent demise, successors are ordered.

I don't just decide to go out and buy shoes any more than I suddenly decide to invade Bermuda just because it's a sunny Saturday afternoon.

After a year or two of urging, I decided to try out the Birkenstock store. I last had a pair of sandals my freshman year of college; they were comfortable, but utterly destructive on my feet, and I never knew why. All I knew is that even though they were the right size, they would never stay on my feet. Eventually I gave them up, chalking myself up as another lonely loser in the land of sensible footwear, and went back to sneakers.

I walked in, and explained my problem to the woman at the store. She asked, "Do you mind if I take a look at your feet for a second? I might be able to tell you what went wrong."

I don't much care for my feet. You try inheriting a set of overlapping toes on your left foot and explaining to your friends why you leave a four-toed footprint at the pool, and you'll keep your socks on all the time, too. Besides, they're tiny, pudgy, funny little smidges of things, but hey, they're mine, and they don't hurt, so I'm keeping them.

I shucked the shoes and socks. There are many places in which to have dignity, but a shoe store isn't one of them.

"Hmm. Really wide around the base of the toe, but that's not a problem." She turned my left foot, staring intently, while I tried to ignore the fact that I was letting a random stranger actually touch my feet, which I personally find just a little creepy. "Oh, here's your problem."

She drew her finger down the side of my foot. "You have a really, really high instep. By the time you find a shoe that's wide enough to accommodate the base of your toes, and wide enough to accommodate your instep, they practically fall off your feet." She accurately described a phenomenon I'd dealt with for years: for shoes with laces, by the time I had the laces tight enough that my foot would not slip, sometimes my toes would fall asleep.

I just always thought I was weird. Turns out some forms of weird have a name.

She had me try on a few pair of shoes with straps around the heel, and managed to repeatedly demonstrate the problem I'd known about for years. "See? You can't even buckle these around your foot, because of how high your instep is. However, I think I've got some shoes here that I got from Germany that just might fit your feet."

One by one, she slid my feet into a pair of off-white sandals. Surprisingly enough, the strap over the top of my foot buckled. Shoes just don't do that; not for me, anyhow. I walked around and it felt - strange. The footbeds obviously weren't molded to my feet, but these were shoes that I didn't have to fight to put on.

They were $50. I hadn't planned on buying the shoes, but I counted up the years I'd spent wishing I had a pair of sandals that fit, and paid for the shoes.

I called my Birkenstock-proponent friends, all of whom were highly amused. I heard "Welcome to the cult!" four separate times (along with instructions from Andy about how I'd need to self-tattoo my new bar code onto my forehead).

"Hey, guess what! I guess you can classify me as one of those hippie sandal-wearing freaks!"

"No, sweetie, you're going to have to put a lot more patchouli in your hair for that to happen."

My toenails are red now, and I have sandals. This is lovely.

* * * * *

†Now if I can just get the humidity to go down a bit. 65°F (18.3°C) and 93% humidity can mean only one thing: an Ace bandage on my right wrist. That's what I get for breaking it twice in a single lifetime. Normally, weather changes don't bother it, but tonight appears to be an exception. Protective wrappings and slight doses of anti-inflammatory drugs are lovely things, indeed!

Current music: Coldplay's A Rush of Blood To The Head and Jonatha Brooke's Plumb.


Birks are one of the very few brands of shoes I can wear for long periods with comfort. You all know how weird my feet are. I have five pairs of Birks, three I wear consistently and two that need new footbeds. I honestly can't wear much else. I was thrilled to discover a good pair of work shoes by Born that actually didn't cause intense pain. I've been wearing Birks for about twelve years. I wear them around the house, because walking barefoot is usually painful. And Ames, wait until you've worn them for awhile, and the cork has molded to your foot. It's like little German elves made shoes just for you.

Ditto from me. Little German elves. Yeah, that's it exactly.

This is hilarious! I've been wearing my Birkenstocks to work most all summer long (and will until it gets too cold). As was pointed out to me "No one walking in will see your shoes anyway". I'm due for a new pair as I've had these for 10 years & have pretty darn much killed the cork. Long live Birkenstock!

Thankfully, no one at work much complains when I wear my Tatamis [made by Birkenstock] in to work. My rationale is that they're the most expensive pair of shoes I've ever owned, so I might as well get use out of them. They were comfortable the first day, save for tiny, tiny callous ridges formed on my notoriously flat insteps. Since then ... glorious. They're just about the only shoes I'll consistently wear in don't-have-to-wear-shoes situations, and ... they don't require socks. GFM

thankfully this cult requires neither a pound of flesh or blood upon entry. I have been sporting Mephisto's (similar to Birks) all summer. the dye from the leather has made the soles of my feet green, but i could care less, they dont hurt my back (any more than existance in general). besides, what is better than wearing sandals, a pair of jeans (commando style, of course) and a loose fitting white linen shirt with the top 3 buttons undone and shades, while basking in the sun on the sidewalk, sipping an iced Chai latte and soaking in the ambiance that is Victoria Downtown Summertime? its the closest to being naked in public you can get without being thrown in the drunk tank, and it is SO freeing its sinful. And thankfully, this outfit is good until mid october here.

Ok, um, I'd just like to state for the record... I *know* what Will looks like, and I want a photo of this. Stat. Heather, are we ever gonna get that lovely geekboy calendar you talked about last year? 'Cause I think we have Mr. January...

I suppose I'm in the Evil Tevas Camp. :-) My last three pairs of sandals were all Tevas. The first pair I had to replace because I left them on Saltspring Island. The second pair got replaced because the velcro on one of the straps wouldn't stay shut all the time. That and they kind of smelled when they got wet. Amy, just remember, DON'T WEAR SOCKS WITH SANDALS. You don't want the Victoria member of the Fab Five (aka Kepmen) after you. And Will, the only thing better than what you described is wearing board shorts instead of jeans. And having a triple grande mocha. And a t-shirt, or maybe a nice aloha shirt. I'm almost there right now except that I'm not outside, and I had a quad venti mocha this morning.

My eyes ... my eyes ... my mind ... Evil Will!

I had a Germen flatmate once. She told me that they have a special word in German for the feet thing you're describing here. It can't really be translated beyond "that weird feet thing with the really high instep", but in German it's one normal everyday word. So it makes sense that a culture with language such as this makes amazing shoes :D Although to be honest, I'm a ten hole doc marten girl myself.

aw shucks amykins, you southern gal's sure know how to make us simple northern folk blush alright. ;-) if it helps, ive been surfing a LOT lately, and my arms are approching "ripped". still gotta work on the beer gut, but I can fit this cute ass in a 32 these days, and thats been a while. oh, and sideburns... and the ricky haircut is back (it was a shaggy attempt at a blond enrique style for a while). damn, I turn myself on. I need to start posing for harlequin covers or something... LOL brad, the board shorts yes. but there is something about jeans and the "im cooler than a panamanian coup d'etat" linen shirt... you gotta try it out.

Ames, I think it's time to visit Will. I need to do a photo shoot. :)

See...now for people like me the sandals just aren't really an option. I don't have feet...I have flippers. 12EEEE. They have yet to make a sandal that is comfy for me. Yes I've tried birks. yes I have tried Teva's. Nothing works other than new balance sneakers. So I even wear them to work. Just black ones ;).

I think that sentence should read "if it's a peacock color, chances are good that I'll wear it," ...or paint it on the walls of my house. ;) Love birks, totally demolished one pair in six years, on my second pair. Of course, I've been a "hippie sandal-wearing freak" since high school. (My Evil High School Nemisis used to come up to me, stomp on then stand on my feet, and sneer "How do you like them Jesus Slippers now, freak?" Ah, high school.)

Having lived in Germany for six years as a young child (8-14 years old) and then stationed there for ten more years as a US Soldier, I am familiar with the sandal culture.  While white is a color exclusive to American girls and adult women, it happens to be a male color in Germany.  I wore white Birkenstock (Arizona and Milano) sandals for the six years I was growing up there as did most of my friends (German and fellow Americans).  This was the school shoe for most of the boys at that time.  While the usual compliment to that sandal was a white ankle sock, which I was made to wear at times, I mostly wore sandals barefoot.  As I entered the Army and was staioned there, I naturally gravitated to the white Birkenstock sandal.  I wore out two pair of Arizona sandals over the ten years I was there.  Great, sturdy and extremely comfortable sandal.  Well worth the money.