Thursday, July 28, 2005

big shoes

I don't consider myself particularly vain, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't care about my appearance (though I've been known to violate that sentiment). My "fashion", if you could call it that, is pretty minimalist (which is probably a euphemism for "not clueless but hardly radical and probably a bit dull"). I don't buy many clothes or spend huge amounts on designer brands. The one exception, for a combination of two interrelated reasons, is shoes.

Reason 1 - My feet are completely crap. They're size US15 (UK14; Euro 49-50, Japan 33). In Oz, it's very difficult to buy anything other than sports shoes and the sort of heavy, black clodhopping monstrosities that I might consider when I'm over 70 and nursing-home staff have to dress me. In the Philippines I've never seen any shoes larger than US12 (and now that all the sweatshops have moved to China, the bigger shoes probably aren't even made here anymore, like they were in the good old days until the big shoe companies realised Chinese workers were more exploitable. My feet are size 15 because they're long. But they're also very narrow, which makes finding shoes that comfortably fit even harder. And I wear orthotics - so I have to have shoes that will take the orthotics well. Which all means that I have to buy expensive-ish shoes. Almost without exception, the only non-sports/non-orthopaedic-geriatric footwear that goes up to my size are high-end brands.

Reason 2 - Because of Reason 1, I tend to get kind of obsessed with getting decent shoes. Partly because I know I'll have to shell out a decent whack of cash, partly because if I'm bloody-well going to go through the hassle required to find the damn things, they better be worth it.

And what is this "hassle"? Essentially, because of my vague obsession, I end up trekking around to almost every fucking shoe shop in whichever city I'm in and have the following conversation:

Me: "Do you have anything in this style [waves hand vaguely, indicating half of all male shoes in stock] in a US15?"

Shop assistant: "Oh yes - we have these." [shows me
heavy, black clodhopping monstrosities]

Me: "Um...I was thinking more alomng the lines of these." [points at what may be a vaguely fashionable and probably reasonably casual style]

Shop assistant: "We have those in a 13 - but it's a big 13! Do you want to try them?"

Then, for some stupid reason, I do try them - knowing that it won't be anywhere big enough, or they'll be almost big enough and I'll convince myself they are big enough and end up selling or giving them away to friends with slightly smaller feet.

The problem is, when you multiply this by a dozen or more shops, it takes time. I swear I can spend two full days or more looking for fucking shoes, and usually have nothing to show for it in the end.

So I decided to try something new: I bought some shoes online (see the little buggers below). I found a shop in the US that specialises in large sizes. I selected a style, I ordered them and they arrived in about a week. Taking into account the cheaper US prices (compared to Oz), shipping costs and customs duty, they cost me around teh same as I'd pay in Oz. They fit perfectly. Which all sounds just dandy, except I spent about the same amount of time online trying to choose the style as I would have taken walking 30km around town between shoe shops. And it's not like I was overwhelmed for choice - I had to choose between two styles, each of which came in three colour schemes. I ummed and ahhed, I emailed friends for their opinion, I vacillated between wanting them and thinking I was being a vain, extravagant dick. In the end I think I bought them just so I'd stop wasting my life looking at the website.
You finished that work yet boy!?

No sir, I've been trying to decide - do you like the natural brown or the dark brown? Do think these would go well with my cords...?


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