There’s this story from my little kid days. I wore Buster Brown bucks. But they were getting dirty. So one day, after my mom had started up a load of laundry, I dropped them into the washing machine. Mom discovered them after the spin cycle. Aside from being wet, they looked pretty good. After they’d dried out overnight, they were good as new. Boy I miss those Buster Brown Bucks. If only that rabid mountain lion hadn’t chewed them off me while defending her cubs that day…
In high school I wore these sandals (with mandatory socks, I might add) that were made from a Moebius strip. It was really cool how a single-surfaced piece of leather could wrap around your foot and hold it in place on a slice of rubber. Hold the mayo. Once the rubber soles had died, I tried replacing them with lucite soles molded to my very feet. The lucite didn’t flex at all, so I only wore them the once. For scientific type purposes I assure you.
I’m not ashamed to admit to experimenting with Birkenstocks during college. Sometimes with socks, sometimes without. I always used Shoe Goo around the edges of the cork to keep them copacetic. It was like protection. And it was all legal in that state, I swear!
Eventually I just ended up ordering pair after pair of Teva sandals. They wear a long time. They dry out fast. Very practical shoes.
Then one evening while walking the dog, an unexpected squirrel got me pulled off the curb with a crackle. That was the sound of a bone in my foot breaking loose from its moorings and sailing its way around the toe of good hope and the heel of cornucopia. Pain. Oh the pain.
Days passed, and it still hurt. Weeks. Months. Desperation started setting in. My foot was getting really worried.
During normal business hours, of course, I wear normal business hours shoes. I could get fired for wearing sandals at work, after all. Part of the problem, I guess, was that my sore foot didn’t want to be confined in business-as-usual shoes to heal.
At this point I stumbled upon Vibram Fivefingers shoes. They’re like toe-socks, but they’re shoes. No really. They’re supposed to be more like going barefoot, but with sole protection. The theory is that modern shoes protect our feet too much, and our foot muscles atrophy and then bad things happen to our feet. Like when squirrels are around.
Some people actually run barefoot. Is that crazy or what? Much better to use these shoes and get fewer scuffles while still exercising your foot muscles.
Some people complain of odor associated with these shoes. Apparently that’s because they’re not using socks. And they’re not throwing the shoes into the washing machine often enough. I’ve never had problems with stinkiness. My wife’s Five Fingers had a toe seam come unraveled on first washing though, so watch out! She repaired it herself instead of asking for help from Vibram.
Some folks actually wear toe-socks with these toe-shoes. It’s supposed to limit some of the stinkiness. I bought a pair of injinji toe socks (that was recomended at Kool Tools) just to give it a try, but felt a little constrained with things. I think my toes are too rotund for both toe socks and toe shoes at the same toe time.
Then one day over on www.SteapAndCheep.com they were selling VIVOBAREFOOT shoes at an extremely aggressive price point. I got a pair. These aren’t toe shoes, but they have lots of room for your toes to wiggle, and not much in the way of excessive foot support. Once again, it’s a lot like being barefoot. There are runners versions, but these are almost business-like.
With regular socks, they’re pretty awesome. My toes can do somersaults in them all day long. But then one day I wore them with the toe socks! What freedom. What expansiveness. What non-causitive, unside effectical beingness! It should not be legal to describe the joy my feet felt while wearing those socks inside those shoes. So there.
Somewhere along the way, my foot stopped hurting. Although still to this day, late at night, when the wolf bane blooms, lying in the dark and quiet stillness of my warm little bed, I can make this awful crackling sound just by shifting the ball of my foot a wee bit. It doesn’t hurt. It’s just an inconvenience. Is it because I wear toe socks and barefoot styled shoes? Without a control group we’ll never know for sure.
What a shame, all those years of footwear wasted.