It is with nothing but anguish and distress that I take up my pen on a subject which should be of the gravest concern and moral outrage to my dear readers. I refer, of course, to the shameful manner in which footwear has been demeaned, debased, degraded in the United States of America. Pray excuse this tirade; I set out not to offend those who may identify as a victim to the words soon to be read, but to merely set out to comment, analyze, and dissect – to record narrate, and chronicle the peculiar cases of American footwear. If this makes me somewhat of a trenchant detractor, so be it. The truth – no matter how inflammatory, no matter how volatile – must be revealed. We might, perhaps, in this instant recall that, in the words of the great Denis Diderot himself, “we swallow greedily any lie that flatters us, but we sip on little by little at a truth we find bitter”.
Allow me to bring you back to 19th August 2017. This was, of course, dear reader, Move In Day for the most brilliant, most spectacular of classes: the crop of 2021. Now, I’m not going to flog the dead horse (my humblest apologies PETA) that is writing about the day, and how I felt about the people, the drinking age, or being forced, against my will, to run for almost 1km (or 0.62 miles – give or take – for users of the laughable imperial system) etc., etc. This is not a piece for the admissions office.
Yet what I will write about was the moment in which I my body was racked with repulsion, convulsion, revulsion – the moment in which I saw somebody sport The Chaco. Now, dear reader, I was not unfamiliar with the word. Whilst reading the packing list I had received some two weeks prior for that godforsaken kayaking OA, I remember it written that I should bring “sandals WITH straps (teva’s or chaco’s style): Nice for walking on the beach, for in camp, and for kayaking” (see Fig. 1).
After a quick Google search (and a subsequent close encounter with a cardiac arrest upon resting my eyes on what exactly a chaco was), I decided that this was somewhat infra dig for myself, and resolved to take this more as a gentle suggestion than as an imperative.
I did not invest in this shoe, mentally suppressed this image and the trauma that ensued from seeing it, and continued to experience my life oblivious to this instance of moral shortcoming.
It is with sorrow that I write that, on campus that day, I believe I saw around 6 pairs of these “teva’s/chaco’s style” shoes. 6 pairs, my dear reader, too many.
Let us now move onto OA. Now, at this point in my life, I had sat through my A Levels, the SAT, those 15-20 long minutes of waiting to open a boy’s snap in the hopes of looking like I wasn’t just sitting on my phone waiting for it (we’ve all been here do not lie to yourself), the Brexit vote, bullshit Biology labs (I hate you Mr Reeve, my nemesis) – the list goes on, yet never have I had to sit through 4 straight days of sandals (“WITH straps”). Some individuals even had the audacity to gloat about their “chaco strap tan”. I…couldn’t believe my eyes. This debauchery, this wickedness…I simply could not accept it.
Yet I had to.
Instances of such iniquity relentlessly continued to assault my eyes and my conscience further. Birkenstocks soon entered the stage. Birkenstocks are to Chacos what a Nature Valley Oats ‘n’ Honey bar is to a Clif bar; the latter is serious about the outdoors, the former simply gives the appearance of such. Of course, I had seen them floating around in the realm of cyberspace – I cannot forget PlantBlog Tumblr. Yet seeing them in real life…in such numbers…I’m sorry, but what in the name of all things bright and beautiful, all things wise and wonderful, are those...I discovered there were also levels to le port du Birkenstock. Rookies wear two-strapped sandals; the intermediate wearers upgrade to three straps; yet the most powerful sport four straps – sometimes with buckles. What. Truly…we live in a society.
“But my [Birks/Chacos] are so comfy!” Shut up the hell your mouth right now. I would like to respond by saying that I neither am familiar nor care about this particular item of jargon. Your shoes are so ugly. I have to laugh.
-Annabelle Lucas PO '21
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