by Jane Divel Nichols
I am a whole new person thanks to the Ugg boots my mother gave me for Christmas. I never wanted to be one of those slipper schlepping folks who appeared too lazy to put on socks and lace up shoes. Uggs are the winter equivalent of Birkenstock hippie shoes. It’s 75° around here most of the year so why is everybody wearing Nanook the Eskimo booties? Because they are heavenly, that’s why.
I am a woman, therefore I love shoes. I have a wide foot with stumpy toes and a high arch so unfortunately shoes don’t love me back. And like a woman, I always dressed for fashion, never comfort. Well, I used to anyway.
Once on a business trip to New York City I traipsed around in black leather 3-inch pumps. I teetered on them from FAO Schwarz to the Russian Tea Room, up the Empire State Building, over to Sardi’s and all over Manhattan. Not one to afford Jimmy Choo’s or Manolo Blahnik’s, (I was fairly certain I wouldn’t be lunching with Sarah Jessica Parker), my Payless knockoffs killed my tootsies just the same. While I should be remembering the awesome landmarks and the Phantom of the Opera I saw, the mention of New York makes my feet throb even years later.
In People magazine I have never seen Cindy Crawford, Cameron Diaz, Paris Hilton and all the glamour gals in anything but strappy sandals. For show premiers in New York mid-January, they all wear gravity-taunting, ungodly high stilettos. How they suffer for us so. I’ll bet Nicole Kidman would prefer to wear moccasins just once with her Valentino gown. At the Oscars instead of doling out $25,000 goodie bags to the presenters, give mukluks to each person in tight rented tuxedo shoes and wobbly high-heels. Losing the coveted award wouldn’t be so bad if your feet weren’t also in excruciating pain.
I have had my share of achy breaky footwear. There was the cowboy boot craze in the 90s. They weren’t so bad once you took the 8 months necessary to break them in. Why do you think cowboys stand in rivers? To sooth their toes. And of course they sleep in them because they can’t get them off. I heard that cowboy boots are designed with pointed toes to be able to kill a cockroach in a corner. I don’t know when I have ever seen a roach in any of my corners and doubt I could or would want to spear it on my expensive leather boot, for cryin’ out loud. Yuck.
You’d think thongs would be comfortable. Not those kind, silly. I am still talking about footwear: flip-flops, Zoories, go-aheads, flaps. They are simple enough. Shove a hard piece of rubber between your toes and grab with the other toes as you cross hot sand which will spill into the open spaces and burn your arches. By the time your foot has left its permanent impression on the rubber sole, you find you walk way off to one side and your toes hang over the end. Stylish and comfy? Yeah, right. Then there is that horrible noise they make when lazy people shuffle along in them. Scuff, scuff, scuff. And don’t even try walking backwards. They are called go-aheads for a reason!
My sneakers should to be the most comfortable and therapeutic to my soles. Well, they hurt as much as any others. Gee, maybe I got the cross trainers when I should have had the running shoes, or was it the pump air sole that was to solve all toe woes? Maybe I am not doing enough sneaking. Why does so much technology and rocket science go into over-designed, over-priced, over-advertised lumps of rubber? All I want to do is shuffle around a bit, walk slowly, and stand as little as possible.
There are shelves dedicated to my search for the perfect shoe. I have clogs that are 25 years old. I was waiting for them to come back into style again. Goodness gracious, they have! But they are really not all that comfortable. So I’ll skip those. Well, that would be impossible to actually do in those clodhoppers. All the loafers, pumps, boots, mules, sandals, and heels that I have in black most certainly are there in brown too. Fashion mavens don’t mix colors. I even have some red leather things that I bought because they were marked down to only $3. Yikes! Everytime I look at them I wonder what possessed me. Red shoes are so juvenile. Next time I see a bargain so low, I’d better treat myself to a latte instead.
I can go on and on about my shoes. But who really cares, right? We all have them. Some fit, some don’t, some are cool, some are not, some are expensive, some should never have been made in the first place. Which brings me right back to my fleecy New Zealand Ugg boots.
My sockless feet glide into the thick fuzzy beige lining of the soft suede boot. It is like stepping into warm sand on a tropical beach only without the grit. My toes freely wiggle inside unencumbered by straps, laces, buckles, bows, Velcro, gizmos or adornments of any kind. I slip them on first thing in the morning, walk my daughter to school, fluff around the grocery store, fit in a walk on the beach, and marvel at the way I can’t feel my feet.
At night with my warm peds propped on the ottoman, I smile at the comfort. I love how I don’t have to worry about dressing to match my new favorite footwear. Nothing looks good with them and I don’t care. Not only are my feet free and unfettered so is my mind.
Jane Nichols houses her happy feet in San Luis Obispo.