Recently, celebrity shoe-meister Christian Louboutin announced from his 5-inch Mount Olympus that he detests clogs - I'm talking the shoes, not those pesky plumbing problems. For those not in the know, today's clogs are a far cry from the old wooden shoes your grandparents brought back from their trip to Holland. The clog is a rugged, comfortable piece of footwear - maybe not so stylish if you equate style with excruciatingly painful strutting about on sky-high stilts.
The Clog Nation - that's what I'm calling us - is a proud collection of smart, productive people with very comfortable feet. Turn on an episode of "Top Chef" and you'll see our legions proudly stomping around kitchens doing things with lamb and rosemary that will make you weep with joy. Not a foodie? Then take a trip to the nearest ER or your dentist's office and you'll see more of our number in their hospital white clogs. Want to get that new hairdo? Well while your stylist is giving you a cut and a blow-dry, you might want to check out their tootsies sporting the latest in clog fashion.
It took a long while, and many painful steps on blistered feet to make me a clog convert. At age 13, I got my first pair of heels. They were bright white and we bought them at Fayva, a purveyor of cheap and plentiful shoes. The occasion was my Confirmation, which required that I wear a white dress, and, hence, the white heels. I tried them on under the brassy, fluorescent store lights and made my first, tentative steps over to my mom, just like I was a one-year old taking my first steps all over again. I should've known, then, that my feet were in for one hell of a tough road. The shoes stayed in their box until the day of the Confirmation service. I was more excited about the shoes than the religious ceremony, but soon I was praying to God harder than I'd ever prayed before because those crappy white heels put the hurt on me, but good! After 3 hours in 3-inch heels I was more than happy to put those beasts back in the box, and I did, for a while.
But then I went to grad school and the heels came back - sky high platforms, stilettos, stacked-heel boots. I trucked throughout Boston on a closet full of Aldo shoes, even braving the icy, snowy sidewalks in uncomfortable and wobbly footwear. I looked fabulous - don't get me wrong! But the shin splints and Achilles tendon issues put a painful crimp in my style. Ever walked up the stairs to your fourth-floor walk-up with swollen feet crammed into 4-inch peep-toe pumps at the end of the night?
My "scared straight" moment occurred during a two-day conference after grad school. I was a member of the team running the conference, with an emphasis on "running." As the youngest staffer and the new hire, I was the gopher, pounding the boiling hot summertime Washington, DC pavements on every conceivable errand for my boss. And yes, I was in heels - silly, stupid 3-inch croc-embossed, black heels. By the end of the first day of the conference, minutes before I was to go home and soak my tired toes, I was, unexpectedly dispatched to take care of a top-priority last-minute item - bringing materials to the evening reception and dinner for the conference attendees. Oh, and I'd need to remain on-site until the dinner concluded. On my way over to the reception site, though, I passed a small shoe store. I'd passed this store several times, but that day I went in, and there, on the walls were the keys to my salvation - the ugliest shoe in the world. They had my size and as the salesman was spouting me the sales talking points, my feet and I were falling in love - a deep, undeniable love. I threw my heels in the trashcan and my life was changed forever.
My clogs and I have seen some amazing things - we've met Presidents of the United States, Secretaries of State, religious leaders, and various Senators and Congressmen. We've traveled the world, from Bangkok to Budapest. We've sailed the high seas, performed in concert halls, and chased after house cats. In short, my ugly shoes have opened up my world, freeing me from the toe tyranny of the legion of little French men who create absurd shoes for women. So, here's my personal challenge to Mr. Louboutin - go and live your life, do what you do every day, but do it wearing those ridiculous shoes that you create for us ladies. My clogs and I will be waiting to hear from you:) I'm just saying!