When summer’s siren call sounds throughout the land, bringing bright sun, sweaty bodies pressed against yours on your morning commute, and the return of iced coffee season, I rejoice. Now is the time to vanquish my mortal enemy: shoes, the tiny foot prisons that I resent every single day I am forced to wear them.
I understand that shoes are a necessity and a requirement that allow me to do what I need to do on a daily basis. The streets of New York City are smeared with a fine layer of excreta and trash water and I will never be intoxicated or altered enough to walk on the sidewalk in my bare feet. Perhaps the issue here is not the shoes themselves, but my feet—wide and flat, like pontoon boats or little tamales, with no discernible arch and chunky little toes, like a baby. While I can articulate the metatarsals enough to walk, I am essentially one of Roald Dahl’s witches—my spit isn’t blue and I am not bald, but my feet are basically wide, fleshy rectangles, that, when squinched into really any shoe, are miserable. For the most part, a winter or fall shoe option is a logistical nightmare. Sneakers are a failsafe, but one cannot reasonably wear atheltic shoes to a fall wedding or other formal event that requires anything other than jeans or a sweatshirt. Fancy shoes are uncomfortable and therefore, I have banished most, if not all, from my wardrobe. Summer is the season where my feet can exist in their natural state: splayed and flat and wide as the day is long, strapped into the various kinds of orthopedic sandals that are currently in vogue, much to my sheer delight.
Birkenstocks, with their sensible cork sole and straps that kindly adjust for a girthy foot, are wonderful. Tevas—a sandal for people who love sports and whitewater rafting—are very comfortable and while the ankle strap cuts off the line of my stubby little leg in a way that is likely unflattering, they are so comfortable that I will wear them into my grave and you cannot stop me. I have flirted with the Worishofer, a shoe last spotted on Maggie Gyllenhaal, Kirsten Dunst, and Michelle Williams (the actor not the singer) circa 2010. They are shoes that would be at home on the stockinged feet of kindly old German women shuffling to market. In a frantic online-shopping spree, I considered, for one brief second, a pair of fashion Crocs—not the platform Balenciaga numbers, but these things which look pleasantly squishy and might be comfortable. Comfort trumps fashion for me always—one of many traits I share with the elderly.
These shoes are appropriate for summer and make me feel like my feet are basically bare. Being overly warm sucks; the prickly-hot sensation of my inner thighs rubbing against each other as I walk (normal) is hell and I don’t love sweating, but knowing that a solid three months of being able to get away with the bare minimum on my feet buoys me through late September, when a different sort of orthopedic trauma takes hold and I must shove my happy feet back into boots, sneakers, and other torture devices designed to hobble me. Summer rules because for a brief period of time, I brush greatness: I am that much closer to achieving my goal of never, ever wearing shoes again.
What feels better than cool grass tickling the soles of your bare feet as you walk from picnic blanket to cooler and back again? Hot sand sucks, but the sweet relief of the cool, mushy stuff down by the water’s edge is pleasant. Bare feet in the house is a wonderful sensation, heightened only by house slippers—hardly a shoe, a mere whisper of a shoe—and provide a solution to the barefoot aficionado’s worst nightmare, dirty feet. People who wear shoes inside the house beyond the front door are monsters. Please take your shoes off and respect the rest of us living our lives to the fullest, padding around in bare feet and feeling great about it.
Shoes are the enemy. Fight the power. Shoes are bad.