Flop sweat

Spring is sprung — but please, people, get something on those knobby toes other than flip-flops.

In my professional, shoe-columnist opinion, those dime-store flip-flops are just about the most hideous “shoes” on earth. OK, maybe they’ll pass on some hot girl-feet. But for the rest of us — let’s go ahead and keep our wonky footsies the hell out of ‘em. Who are we kidding anyway? Flip-flops aren’t shoes. They’re like something that got stuck to the bottom of your feet — matzoh bread maybe.

Get some real sandals.

Ahhh, real sandals. True freedom, tangible proof that summer is here. Real sandals cradle your feet, keep them cool and looking cool. They’re comfortable and refreshing, just like a sea breeze — not the wind, the drink. Vodka, grapefruit juice and a splash of cranberry over lots of ice. Did I mention lots of vodka? Delicious.

In my world, there are two kinds of sandals. Passive and active. And as such, there are only two brands – Birkenstock (of course) and Keen. When you are hanging around, lazing away a summer day, or strolling from the couch to the fridge for a refill, there is nothing more comfortable, more supportive and more wonderful than a pair of broken-in Birks. Right now I’m in the process of breaking in (it’s been a year-and-a-half) a beautiful pair of taupe suede Zurichs. They are, of course, crazy looking, but I love ‘em. They have a vaguely gladiator-ish cut, and they fit my feet like a glove. A soft, lambskin glove.

Active sandals have a whole different mission in life. Their job is to hug your feet tightly, so you can sprint down the beach to catch that Frisbee without stubbing your toe on a hidden rock. Active sandals make you sure-footed enough to leap tall buildings in a single bound and wade into shark infested waters for some baby-rescuing. And they’re nothing if not rugged. I have had the same pair of Keen Newports for the last 6 years — before anyone ever heard of Keen.

I am an early sandal adopter.

Before the Keens, I retired (that’s right, I still hold on to them, out of respect) a 15-year-old pair of original Tevas. Oh, they were awesome. Best sandal I ever had.

But the Keen sandal has now become part of who I am. In fact, in more ways than I care to acknowledge, those duck-feet-looking dirty brown sandals define me. And it’s going to be a tough decision — whether to be buried in the Keens or my trusted old Birks.

Anyway, Keen now makes all kinds of great shoes and sandals, and the nylon-strap variety is next on my to-wear list. For one thing, they dry way faster than the faux-leather ones I have. But I do sometimes wish that, like jeans, you could get them pre-broken-in. Nothing dorkier than a brand, spanking new pair of sandals sitting at the end of my pale legs.

Till next time — remember, shoes make the man.

— Burke Andrews

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