India 2016: Croc Envy in India

“Dude, those have got to be the ugliest shoes I’ve ever seen!”

“Listen pal, you’re gonna want these after this trip. The ugliest pair of shoes you will ever love!”

So began my Croc envy of DaveRisner’s choice for shoes at the beginning of our trip across the Indian sub-continent. And boy, was he right. Excuse me, PAL – was he right!

When I arrived back in San Francisco, I went on a two-week bender in search of Crocs. Turns out, they are not easy to find. The nearest Croc locations were far away; and the places I thought they were being sold (i.e. sporting goods stores) never carried them. And I didn’t want to order them on Amazon, cos I wanted to put them on my feet before purchasing them. I finally relented, ordered a pair, and they arrived today, three weeks to the day I came back from India.

I have not stopped raving about them to anyone that is willing to lend me an ear (which it turns out, is not very many people). They are unbelievably comfortable as they are unbelievably ugly. And because they are inexpensive, you give yourself carte blanche to beat the shit out of them.

Rewind to two months ago, when I was preparing for my Indian adventure and one of the biggest things I had to decide was what shoes to bring with me. Many conversations with Derek and DaveRisner, over text, email and phone, were centered around what to wear. I felt like a teenage girl going out on a Saturday. “OMG, what dress are you gonna wear? No way that color looks totally gross on me!” Ok, I have no idea how teenage girls talk these days. I’m not even sure that’s how teenage girls talked during the 80’s. I was the furthest thing from being a ladies man. I consistently came in 11th in the top ten best looking guys in an informal poll amongst the girls in my class when we were sophomores in high school. Missed it bythismuch, but I digress.

And so I laid out various flip-flops, running shoes, trail shoes, and boots. I had Reefs, Chacos, Birkenstocks, Bucketfeets, ASICS, Saucony’s, Keens, Salamons, Danners, Vasque Sundowners, etc. The best advice I got from my buddies was to wear something you’d be willing to throw away; and if I needed something, I could just buy it once we arrived. What they didn’t realize was that I wasn’t willing to throw away any of my shoes. I loved them all, and they all served a purpose. In my mind, I wanted something rugged and durable, something waterproof or at least stand up if raining, lightweight, and packable. The streets of India were dirty and dusty, many of which filled with shit, and we were expecting rain in parts of our journey. There was no one shoe that could meet every one of those criteria. I ultimately settled on a fifteen-year-old pair of leather Red Wing high-top boots. They were old school, lighter than my hiking boots (specifically my Danners which I was heavily considering) but definitely not packable, but so sturdy that they could take a massive beating. Wearing them made me feel like Indiana Jones. They even looked a bit like the Aldens that Jones wore in the movies (which I have and love by the way). The Red Wings would easily protect my feet, and could easily support me for an entire day. However, the truth of it was that they were heavy.

When I first slipped into DaveRisner’s Crocs, I was in heaven. He wore old, beat up running shoes for most of the day, but would wear his Crocs at night. I would take every opportunity to steal them from him; but because DaveRisner is just a giving guy (he would literally give you the shirt off his back, more concerned with the comfort of others before himself), he never let me feel like I was stealing.

My Croc envy of DaveRisner began on those first few days in India.

And now I have a pair.
I actually have two pairs.

I am happier for it.
Go get yourself one.
They will be the ugliest shoes you will ever love.

DaveRisner responded…

Cecil, good work on this…well remembered, well written. I loved seeing you enjoy wearing my crocs, especially with the trouble you’d been having with your feet. The middle of the Run, I wore them most of the time…it was the front and the end where I was in my trainers. They do well at home, and they do well on the road.

I’d like you to recite this poem in Tom Waits tragic, but as if Charles Butkowski was imitating him. Its not going to be easy, … or, not until you get in the rhythm anyway. Give it a shot, and if you can’t nail it, we can talk about how to get it done, even in your swank voice:

I had friends over for Friday Night records, and my friend Kathi was soaked when she came in. I gave her a dry pair of socks and my crocs and she coooo’d at the first step. It is an odd shoe, but an easy shoe. I’ll keep wearing them.

The style of mine are ‘bogata’ but not sure they make it any more. It has a leather top that disguises it slightly, but only from the completely clueless. I’ll keep wearing them.

If you find any odd pinch in the sole, don’t forget I had to pry out a piece of glass. It wedged deep into the rubber bottom of my right croc. There was no entry mark, and no exit after surgery. And such is the life of a croc-owner. I’ll keep wearing them.

Thanks for helping me remember this.

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