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Circle Jerk for a Birk?

April 10, 2010

I was going to follow-up my previous post with a look at the opposite end of the spectrum: shoes I once decried, only to succumb to their latent  charms. However, as I wracked my brain for just such occasions, I came up satisfyingly short!

I’m quite pleased. Those who know me know I have a propensity  towards the scoff’n want. Scoff’n want is  an existential condition where one vehemently denies the fundamental VALIDITY of something, only to boldly embrace it later without a trace of sheepishness.  Some call it being mercurial. Some call it hypocritical. I call it a very vocal display of due diligence. Enter the Birkenstock.

To me, the Birkenstock, thick-strapped and squat, heralded all that was terrible about function over form.  The  big ol’ Germanic sandal – intimating the mysteries of dark rye bread- left me icy cold. Also, people were wearing these bad boys with wool socks in the era of my adolescence – a look I could never abide and that seemed deeply counter intuitive. The whole point of wearing a sandal is to let your foot be free, why wrap it in a sock? You know, it’s like those poor kids, whose parents are European or something, and put them in white sandals with like, little white socks?  Even the boys? The little boys in sandals and socks?

So certain fashion flourishes always elicit a visceral reaction – like literally your corneas are being sizzled from their sockets. Birks and socks always did that to me – a grotesquery that haunted me endlessly. But Birks themselves – worn as god intended (sockless) started to slowly win me over. I started to see the handsome heft of the straps, the fine creasing of the leather, the solid simplicity. The arch support.

So whatever, before first year university I bought a classic pair and busted them up over frosh week, got them worked in and decent looking.  And I mean – listen, technically it’s a scoff’n want – but maybe not really – because it’s not like I ever fell desperately in love with my Birks. It’s not like they ever were my go-to shoe. They were a backup boyfriend – someone whose cute, and with whom you have a certain rapport, but who will never get to touch you all over.

Good enough. Birk Arizona. Backup boyf.

The lesson here then is what? We’re all human? We all make mistakes? We can all change our minds once in while? I’d never acquiesce to any of those platitudes.

The lesson in fact is that like most shoe brands,  there are VERY few styles which can be sanctioned by the I.G.C.P.S ( International Governing Committee of Palatable Shoes – I just made that shit up!). I don’t support the backstrap and I don’t support the three strap. I don’t support these:

Bad. Birk clog. You go to far.

You can’t gussy up a donkey people. You’re thankful they schlep you about and carry your weight, but basically they’re a beast of burden. Leave the finery to the show ponies.

And now that I’ve made my ringing analogy of the night – I look into my heart of hearts, casting about in the deep recesses of my conscience and sartorial history – and with all honesty can’t think of another shoe that I’ve vigorously denounced – only to buy later. I think it shows a real ability to separate the wheat from the chaff, the nuanced good from the overwhelmingly bad. In other words – another true triumph of character.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Laurie permalink
    April 10, 2010 7:06 am

    IGCPS = brilliance. lol

    Is it wrong that when I was 16 I had Roots sandals that were fake birks? Firkenstocks, if you will?

    And p.s. who coined the term scoff n’ want? ahem? Yeah thass right. Looks like someone owes someone a copyright cheque.

    Just sayin.

    • April 10, 2010 9:11 am

      I know honey – scoff’n want – along with diet cakki – all classics.


  1. Almost dead to me: Adidas « Good shoe. Bad shoe.

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