This trend is a Croc
Crocs are for kids. And, dirty Crocs they are. For 30 bucks a pair, you can outfit your children in Twinkies for their toes. Crocs are a crock.I first laid feet on them a couple of years ago, when my sister-in-law gave me a purple pair for my birthday. My brother’s name was on the card, too, but I knew he wasn’t sharp enough in fashion to be on the cutting-edge of this trend, and wouldn’t have noticed the colorful clogs on the shelf – much less have been in a store that sold them in the earliest days of their trend, anyway.I slipped my dogs into their new digs and bounced around the dining room a couple of times for a test. It was podiatric sensation for the ages! They were light. They were comfortable. They were as easy as a nap in a hammock on a warm Saturday afternoon. So, of course, I was skeptical, since no one should lead such an empty life as to justify a weekend snooze in the shade. Yet, they became my shoe of choice.Even the squeak of my sweaty heels on the spongy rubber when I became too lazy to bother with socks was incredibly satisfying. I got used to the awkward stares from the uninitiated standard footwear bearers as they mulled over my motives for exhibiting such flamboyant visual stimulation in public. This occurred only a few times before everybody else began wearing them, or after the manufacturer announced the initial public offering of their common stock, I’m not exactly sure of the timing.Anyway, by and by I came to learn that Crocs are fine for adults whose outdoor adventures consist in variety ranging from fetching the newspaper at the end of the driveway, exercising the dog on cold winter mornings from the heated driver’s seat in an SUV, or patrolling the decks of medium-sized sail boats. In short, they are excellent active wear for the inactive.I loved my Crocs, until the first neighborhood picnic after acquiring them. At first, everybody wanted to know about them. They asked questions, then touched, lifted and flexed them at the toes. A few even tried them out with 10-stride hikes around the gazebo. Afterward, we chose up sides for flag football.It was then I discovered the Achilles’ heel of Crocs: They don’t have one. They provide no support for the feet whatsoever. Going out for a pass, I cut left and twisted my ankle. Hobbling on the next play, I cut right and twisted the other one. One more, I tried to pull up short. You would have thought I was dancing with the stars the way my legs splayed and shot out in front of me. Crocs are slippery! Finally, after stubbing each of my toes on successive gimps from scrimmage, I’d had enough. I headed to the cooler for beer and fried chicken – well before halftime.Needless to say, I was surprised by the end of the summer when the shoes caught on with vigorous kids across the country. Until then, I had believed it was another one of those weird Aspen phenomena like outdoor natural gas campfires in downtown or ski racks on bicycles. But, when I vacationed in Texas that August and they stared back from every place I looked, I knew it was none other than a fad of Pet Rock proportions. The most plausible explanation I could come up with for this is that word must have gotten out that a grown-up dork like me, or perhaps it was even me, had found them lacking in many practical aspects.My own beloved children were caught up in the trend. In observing them, I ironically realized it was precious youthful exuberance that accounted for the shoes’ popularity. In their zest for living in playful bliss, my kids are wont to take shortcuts with things like homework and household chores in order to get out and meet life headlong in the backyards, playgrounds, hillside tree forts and bramble-secreted fishing holes of the world. Shoelaces and tight tongues are additional impediments to this liberty. Crocs are free of such restraints. They are a simple solution, when footwear is required at all.But, I am afraid that ease as a contagious disease has drawbacks. I’ve observed more than one basketball game end prematurely when a Croc gave way on a drive to the hoop, resulting only in skin on the asphalt exchanged evenly with particles of asphalt embedded in a knee and a child lying dazed in the gutter. I’ve seen kickball games forfeited, sprinting though grass swapped for regretful lopping, and perching on tree limbs left solely for the birds, all because shoes matching the demands of the tasks where not at feet. The devilish Crocs were there instead.You can’t do much in Crocs, but they sure are easy to just not do it in. So, kids everywhere wear them all the time. You don’t even have to bend over to put them on. And, when you’re through doing nothing in them, they’re so soft and light that you can kick them off, right into a cubby with little fear of breaking anything if you miss. I’ve seen it a thousand times. They’re Nerf shoes for your mudroom!Crocs bring back memories of “The Jerk,” an old Steve Martin movie. A hapless trifler invents what every person needs – glasses with a brake to keep them from sliding down a nose. In no time, everyone has the must have accessory, even people who don’t need glasses. The jerk becomes famously rich, and richly famous. Then, one day, people begin to realize the trendy glasses’ gadgets are making them cross-eyed. Everybody is going blind!Now, I know that “The Jerk” was just a movie, and that we aren’t stupid enough to get caught up in a trend as silly as nose brakes for eyeglasses. But, isn’t it an interesting thought? What if that old comedy was a presage? Wouldn’t it be funny if we got addicted to the ease, comfort and coolness of a functionless footwear fashion that made energetic play impossible, and all of our children ended up overweight and out of shape?Roger Marolt is tying one on at email@example.com. As soon as he’s finished, he’ll tie the other one on, and maybe go for a run.
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High Points: Now I don’t want to be an apologist for the Aspen Skiing Company, but to me $199 to ski the crown jewel of American skiing during the height of what is traditionally the busiest time of year is a total bargain.