A shoe, estimated to be 1,500 years old, was discovered in an alpine mountain pass in Norway. Scientists and researchers are quite intrigued by the find, as it resembles sandals worn by people in much warmer parts of the Roman Empire. Not a very practical choice for the icy, snowy conditions found in the Nordic region. As the saying I just made up goes – “pack for where you are going, not where you are.”
I have never owned a pair of sandals. From my adolescent years of the late 1960s through my rebellious and lost teens of the 1970s, there were plenty of sandal-wearers amid the hippies, beach bums, and summer-loving summer-of-love free spirits. My toes were always safely enclosed in a sneaker, a school shoe, or an occasional pair of Li’l Abners or Frye boots. I will admit to a brief Earth Shoe walk on the wild side.
Would sandals have been more comfortable on the blistering sands of Rockaway or the green fields of Van Cortlandt Park? Probably. But no, I stood on un-bared feet and covered soles.
As I traveled the world, my standard never diminished. I stood firm at the crossroads of cultures and religions, most of which featured sandal-clad icons. On the beaches of Crete – covered feet. From the exotic streets of Istanbul to the mythical swirl of clouds that covered the remote mountains of central Turkey, to the brutal heat and dryness of Riyadh –gold toe socks and leather soles. Along the streets of Malta’s “Silent City “of Mdina through the towns dotting the Sicilian seaside, my trusty scarpas kept the deep Mediterranean sun safely away from my arches. I waltzed through beautiful Vienna in my pedestrian lace-ups, my bride more daring in open-toed shoes or sensible slip-ons. I covered my soles in Seoul, wore my socks in Sydney, and maybe Spanish leather in Barcelona.
Churches, museums, and houses of worship feature statues and iconography of the pious and adored, clad in sandals. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph – sandal, sandal, sandal. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – sandals. Peter and Paul – sandals. Mary too. The Greeks, Israelites, Macedonians, Romans, Carthaginians – not a loafer among them. I am no historian, but it makes me wonder; would Achillies have lived a longer life if he had gone with a sturdy combat boot? Could Moses and his crew have gone farther sooner if they had a good walking shoe to keep the pesky sand and scorpions away from their toes? Maybe.
I am no anti-sandalite. What people wear on their feet is not my business. I choose for me, and only me. Will I give an opinion when my wife shops for shoes? Of course, it is my duty as her partner. I know her preferences, ailments, and the weighed factors of fit, style, comfort, color, and upcoming event. I’ve scanned the displays and have, on occasion, retrieved a nice pair of sandals for her to try. However, when we move to the other side of the shoe store, it is all about laces and loafers.
I’m not a fan of shorts either. Nope, too many sunburns have broken me of the need to bare my legs. Ah, the curse of being a fair-skinned, hopelessly sun-sensitive descendant of the Emerald Isle and neighboring Scottish highlands – where kilts were sorta-shorts and kind-of-sandals were de rigor back in auld lang syne. Cover me up. A lovely lightweight pair of khakis or a sturdy pair of jeans is all I need for those casual days and nights—paired with an unassuming Rockport or Clark’s loafers or even a subtle sneaker if I’m feeling a bit sporty.
And socks, always socks. But that’s another story.