January 22nd, 2015


Still Life With Birkenstocks

Went out shoe shopping today with my buddy Mur, to the infamous Birkenstock store in town.

Long-time readers will remember that...holy crap, it's been seven years...ago I went into this store to get my Birks repaired. I walked in with the shoes in hand and a man came up to me, seized the shoes, and said in tones of abject Southern horror: "Did you get these off'n a daid person?!"

I said, "Um."

He inspect the severe damage I had wrought upon the cork and added "Was you in prison and these was the only shoes they gave you?"

I agreed that this was the most likely scenario. He took them away, read me the riot act about what we do not do to our cork soles (bless your heart) and a week later I had pristine Birks for a third the price of new ones.

Alas, those shoes have since gone the way of all flesh and I had not picked up a replacement, so Mur and I went out on Birkenstock Quest. The official Birkenstock website lied to us repeatedly, and at last, the only hope was the store of legend. (Which, snark aside, is the only place I would go for shoe repairs, if it came to that. They are peculiar in a very Southern sort of way, but they do damn fine cobbling.)

The store is now very clean, very nice, brightly lit and I think in a new location. I found my chosen Birkenstock (Arizona, women's 39) and also tried on some new hiking boots, found them quite satisfactory, and mentioned in passing that I definitely needed new boots, because my current pair was a Target special.

Now, because I have a fair amount of Ye Olde Face Blindness, there was no way that I was going to remember what this guy looked like...until he looked up at me, and said, once again in tones of abject Southern horror, "Target? How do you have feet left? How is you not in a wheelchair?"

Good to know that some things never change.

(There was also the Sock Consultation. They have an entire wall of socks, promising a future of merino and wicking and cushioned comfort soles that will keep my feet dry and cooled and unblistered and massaged by tiny angels living in the weave. As I am heading to Botswana in April for a photo safari with a bunch of fellow artists, and they have very strict weight limits, I am on a quest for a sock that does all these things and can be washed and air-dry overnight.

I explained my needs to the Southern gent, who went and got another one, who went and got a third, and all of us stared at the Wall of Socks with expressions of deep concentration.

"We got liners," said one.

"Don't wanna send her out in liners," said another. "Need a sock to go over it. All-in-one."

"Why is you going to Africa?" said the third. "Is this a punishment for somethin'?"

"Needs to be a hiking sock, not a running sock," said the first.

"Wool blend would probably be best," said the second one.

"I saw a show where a black mamba bit a lion and that lion was daid in five minutes," said the third.

"This one's wicking, but how's it dry?" said the first.

"The silk blend's pretty good," said the second.

"If one of those mambas bites a man--or a woman--they'll be dead in half an hour!" said the third.

"The Wigwam's are good. We got any cotton?"

"We don't have any cotton socks in the store."

"You wouldn't get me in Africa. I've seen nature shows. You wouldn't get me out of the United States."

"Try these, maybe?"

"See if those dry overnight, yeah."

"I might not even leave North Carolina. It's scary out there."

I took the recommended socks, promised to report back, and agreed that yes, it was.)