Anyone who's known me for more than a month knows that I dislike wearing socks or shoes. They’re uncomfortable, restrictive, and I never feel grounded while wearing them. I feel like Hank Azaria in “The Birdcage”: I put shoes on, I fall down. Usually, in a hilarious fashion. I would even venture as far to say that I hate them.
I dislike bandying about the word “hate” – not because I’m some love-everything, peace-freak-hippie-dick: I’m not. Too many people describe things they “love” and “hate” as freely as describing a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I find it very unbelievable that people can truly love or hate so many things so intensely, that for a person to turn and say they love or hate me – well, it greatly diminishes the effect.
No, my desire is simply liberation. Shoes are a marketing enigma-turned-phenomenon. The concept of taking such a simple, utilitarian product and converting into what it is now boggles the mind.
Let’s start with a basic concept – pants: simple, easily designed, worn by most everyone. These evolved into jeans. In time, the yellow stitching was changed to white, and, eventually, back to yellow. There’ve been brand names labeled on the backside and along the leg. They’ve been worn, faded, bleached, emblazoned with rhinestones, and even blown out to fit three midgets and a circus inside of each leg. But, the core concept has remained the same- and at all levels of consumerism, to boot.
Now, there are the odd rarities. Spanx, or janx, or jerkoffs - whatever those Mel Brooks looking tights are. Those are just awful. Please, people – go back to the rest of your wardrobe and try again. Know what? – go to your grandparent’s wardrobe: there’s better clothing in there than those awful things.
Shoes have become this high profile concept. Now, they’ve had the same modification for ride and comfort, but the big kicker for me is in the assumed reputation garnered not by the maker, but by the wearer. Apparently, some brands make you look cooler. I have yet to see this actually work, but, from the lines I’ve seen outside of a Foot Locker two hours prior to some new shoe being launched, I’d say there’s some credibility.
See, that’s the kicker – these companies are selling you something. Problem is, it’s not the shoe. It’s the image of the shoe; the allure, prowess, and prestige promised to you simply by placing their full-leather upper upon your feet. If I’m spending $160 per shoe, these things better turn me into Hermes, dammit all.
Not herpes, you jack arse – Hermes. From Greek mythology - Mercury in Roman.
Where was I? – Oh, right: The people lining up to buy these shoes aren’t there for the comfort, or the fit. They couldn’t care, really. They want the glory of wearing those hot kicks around the yard. Honestly, I feel bad for them, and I feel bad for the yard they’re going to wear them in.
Just last year I bought my first pair of Nike’s. It was an ordeal. I wanted good, comfortable shoes for retail work. After a bit of try-this try-that, I found a nice, squishy pair with good support. You’d think I was done – No! Oh, my goodness, no. See, I didn’t realize there was this entirely separate line of shoe with the same technology built in, and they were so popular. And they were $225 a pair in my size.
Couple of things: are you people fucking mad? $225 for sneakers?! That’s gas for six weeks. I will chew through those things by the time 42 days have passed. Also, what technology do you have in your shoe? The club-foot uglification tech that Skechers toning shoes use? Do these have Transformer mini-bots in the heels? I’m holding a pair of shoes already overpriced at eighty dollars – what reality do you live in where it is perfectly practical to sink nearly four times that into footwear?
Simply put, the shoe manufacturers just have phenomenal marketing. They have so thoroughly convinced the consumers that the brand is what you really want – not the shoes – which even their sales staff has bought in on that.
While working with my last employer, they frequently used a rather horrific mantra: Drink the Kool-aid. The context would be something like, “We all support the company, and believe in their mission. We all drink the Kool-aid, man!”
For those who don’t know, this is actually a Jonestown reference. If you don’t know what Jonestown is, you were probably born in the last twenty years. Let me just quote the always credible (sarcasm) Wikipedia, as they sum up my entire problem with anything referencing Jonestown:
“To the extent the actions in Jonestown were viewed as a mass murder, it was the largest such event in modern history and resulted in the largest single loss of American civilian life in a non-natural disaster until the events of September 11, 2001.”
That loss of life included over 200 children, force-fed the same cyanide-laced Kool-Aid their parents were drinking as a form of “revolutionary suicide.” Revolutionary concept – killing the next generation with the same poison you’re drinking for your own beliefs.
This is something done generation after generation – forcing our beliefs onto our children, expecting these children to be a perfect, carbon copy of ourselves. In the case of Jonestown, that narcissism was going to be broken, so, the children were spared ever being an individual.
You have to ask yourself what kind of poison you are passing around for others. Not just literal ones. I mean, I try to include small doses of arsenic in all the cookies I bring to social functions (good news, guys from the last job: If you’re still alive, you have one hell of a tolerance level). No, on a broader spectrum our entire worldview can permeate toxins into everyone around us. Small social interactions like blessing a sneeze or greeting a friend, all the way over to interacting with retail employees that you’ll likely never see again, and back to emotional output you leverage around household pets. These are all environmental factors that are within your control, and far too frequently, people force their Kool-Aid down the throats of any physical body they can sink their fingers into for five seconds.
I say, be done with it. Take a minute to see you being a dick, breathe deeply, and move on. I can’t stop someone from trying to push the poison in my face, but I can take it upon myself to stop it at me. I can strap on my shoes, and simply dance to my own beat, bringing the entire world a better rhythm.
Or, you can use them to kick in the skulls of all the people who irritate you in a day. But, how does that make you better than the people trying to crush yours with the heel of their boot?