Shoe Shopping for Bigfoot

Filed in Lifestyle by on August 14, 2009 0 Comments

Boston shoes

I wear enormous shoes. There is no way to sugarcoat it, to try to diminish, in any way, the colossal monstrosities that are my ogre feet. While these freakish feet are perfect for stomping peasants or, more practically, aiding my equally large legs in covering great distances quickly, they are a debilitating hindrance whenever I have to buy new shoes.

I say “have to” because I have next to no interest in fashion. I only practice the first half of ‘function before form.’ This is why I, when not in attendance at a black tie gala event, typically look like the exponentially more grimy offspring of two fantastically filthy hobos. My lack of interest in fashion should make purchasing new shoes a five minute errand. “Which shoes are cheapest? I’ll take those!”

Finding shoe stores in the city is also no problem. Dozens of shops in and around Boston cater to urban youths whose wallets are stuffed with cash and whose minds bubble over with creative, hip stylishness, or, more accurately, vanity. Shoes in these pricey boutiques can cost in the hundreds of dollars. For a hefty price, you can choose from a wide assortment of limited edition kicks done up so brightly in day-glo they look too tacky to even be given away as prizes on an early 90s game show (I’m thinking of Legends of the Hidden Temple in particular.)

For all the disdain I feel toward specialty sneaker shops, I must admit I am at least impressed by the subtlety with which they disguise a simple product—rubber and fabric to protect your feet—as a piece of modern art. The stores too, from Newbury out to Harvard Square, are done up more like art galleries than shoe shops. Colored bulbs cast muted hues across carefully plotted rows of designer sneaks, and even the shoe stands bear bold angles and eccentric, swooping arcs.

Yet, despite the prospect of popularity I can only assume comes with a pair of $150 sneakers, I am still unconvinced I should pay that sort of money for something I am simply going to be dragging across the ground. I might even get dog shit on them. What sort of investment is that?

I like to pay as little as possible for functioning shoes, which is why I shop at discount stores like Payless. When I needed new shoes this past week, I stopped into their location on Harvard Ave. Judging by the price tags, I knew that I would, in fact, be paying less than most people for shoes of comparable quality. This, I thought gleefully, was a huge plus for me.

Ah, but then again, there is the problem of my impossibly large feet. They are size 13, which is about as big as shoes come unless they are specially ordered, meaning there are very few options for a man of my shoe size. While unfortunate for me, I understand the logic behind this: why would a shoe store bother carrying a variety of products only eight men in the entire world would ever need? My demographic makes up a pathetically small portion of all shoe sales and, as such, is similarly insignificant to shoe companies.

In short, I had perhaps six prospective shoes to choose from. Again, I care almost nothing for what my attire looks like, yet Payless somehow, and I am entirely uncertain how, decided to stock only shoes less appealing to wear than bee hives. Most were perfect rectangles, and the rest were leather. Being a vegetarian, and having just enough fashion sense to know that I wanted shoes that looked like shoes rather than shoe boxes, I ultimately left without buying anything. My one pair of tattered sneakers were spared.

There are plenty of cheap stores around, and I’m sure I’ll find eventually find something. Until then, I’ll have to cope with what I’ve got, holey soles be damned. At least I have the consolation of knowing that, had I shelled out $700 for Nike’s with a built in five star restaurant in the tongue, those shoes would still be falling apart like my cheapos are now. That is, assuming that the Nike’s came in my size in the first place.

Photo credit: B Tal

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