Accessorizing for the apocalypse

This post originally appeared in March 2012 and is consistently one of my most popular blog entries. I’m repeating it today for Halloween. Enjoy!

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When the dead rise and zombies take over the world, it is comforting to know that I am equipped with the appropriate footwear.

AMC style zombiesI’ve been, you see, watching The Walking Dead on AMC, a series now in its second season based on the graphic novels by the same name. It was conceived of by Kentuckian Robert Kirkman, who hails from Cynthiana, so zombification-wise, I’m pretty much at Ground Zero.

I never read the books, but since watching the series I’m becoming more interested in them. What preoccupies me at the moment, though — in addition to following the ethical struggles, babydaddy drama, and child-in-peril moments the show spews in abundance (and oh yeah, zombies and bullets to the head) is Frye boots.

I’m sure this comes as no surprise.

Frye and small frySince stomping onto the set in the pilot episode, female lead Lori, wife to Our Hero Rick Grimes, has been ubiquitously clad in my go-to shitkicker, the Frye harness boot. It’s even the same color as mine, so my preoccupation is justified (sort of). You go, girl.

While I’m a little surprised she’s wearing the things even in the height a hot Georgia summer, I’ve got to go hey, you flee your home with little more than the clothes on your back of course you’re going to pull on the most serviceable good-looking boots in your closet.

“Carl! Pack up some t-shirts, jeans, and a metric buttload of sunscreen, we’re hitting the road!” Lori yells, standing in the bedroom, pulling on her negative-2 size Levis and throwing all the family photos into her luggage.

“Daddy’s dead and the neighbors want to eat us, honey. Pack appropriately.”

Now of course when I’m sitting in front of the screen watching this thing, these thoughts are far from my mind. I am of course much more interested in the moral struggles these people must face, including and up to killing other living, breathing survivors and having unprotected sex in zombie-infested woods, or perhaps abandoned pharmacies. Kiss me before we get eaten!

But give me some time to reflect and my thoughts return to preparing for these conditions with style and comfort in mind.

Of course, the Frye selection is good-looking. Dansko clogs would also be a good choice if you have to plan for wearing the same shoes while squishing over rotting corpses until the year 2525. Flip-flops are right out, unless the Zompocolypse caught you out while on vacation in Myrtle Beach.

Standing in my closet, I ponder the End Times appropriateness level of my own wardrobe. Yes, these capes and shawls could be excellent protection against the elements, as extra bedding, and perhaps even camouflage if the zombies lose their sense of smell. No, I doubt the prairie skirts and  faux fur are going to be of much good. Better stick with skinny jeans, fleece and utility vests.

Wedge-heels and mules are right out, of course — who can run when you’re in danger of throwing a shoe? Running shoes (well, walking shoes in my case) could pose a problem; any length of time spent running in them results in run-down Reeboks, but I suppose in a Mad Max world, there will always be plenty of Foot Lockers to plunder.

Lori, Andrea, Carol and Maggie, our Walking Dead women, seem to favor tank tops under cute tops for their zombie-world wear, though I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s the wardrobe designers who prefer them so uniformly. Anyway, Lori’s going to have to make a run to Motherhood Maternity at some point, unless she’s got a zom-bun in the oven.

Maybe she plans on taking over Rick’s old sheriff uniforms — hey, that worked splendidly for Margie in Fargo, at least. Yah!

Ready to fight zombies at workI know there’s going to be a lot I have to give up when facing down the undead every day. Fashion just isn’t a priority when the only medical practitioner you’ve got is more familiar with fillies than impaled fibias.

But it is good to know if I’m gonna be walking dead, at least my feet are firmly planted in boots already endorsed by one of the survivors.

Bless you, my children

Today is Good Friday, a day I thought I’d invite Pope Benedict XVI to the blog to bless each and every one of you as you prepare your hearts, minds and souls for Easter Sunday.

I took this photo several years ago, obviously at Christmas time, at the Buca di Beppo in Louisville, a completely fun dining experience. The whole place is rigged out like a 1950s Italian-American Catholic family restaurant, or something. I’m not sure precisely what they’re trying to convey, other than hilarity. You also have to walk through the kitchen to get to the restaurant. Inexplicably, there are framed granny-panties on the wall of the women’s restroom.

Anyway, if you have a big crowd, like we did, you can request the Pope Room, which features a lot of pictures of popes both past and present. In the center of the table, behold, a bust of the current pontiff. The first time I went, John Paul II was the resident pope.

I’ve had popes on the brain since earlier this week, too, when I moped about Goober Shoes. My friend Alert Reader Holly — yes I totally stole that from Dave Barry — let me know that the Pope’s shoes actually have their own Facebook Fan page. (Yes, I “liked” it. What did you expect?)

Snap! They’re red and they’re gorgeous. They’re not wingtips, but they’re certainly wasted on a man for heaven’s sake. Well, he is The Man when it comes to the Catholic Church, so I’ll give him a pass. Wear those red shoes, Benedict!

Can’t you just imagine the Easter Bonnet with these babies?

Wait a minute. Why is it so hot in here? What am I doing in this handbasket?

Have a blessed Easter, everyone.

Goober shoes

I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about shoes. Hey — don’t judge. It doesn’t hurt anybody, and looking at shoes online, looking at other peoples’ shoes, and mentally upgrading the shoe wardrobes of others give me something to do while I’m waiting in the doctor’s office, driving, or otherwise without mental stimulation.

So I’d like to go on record with the startling information that I absolutely loathe a trend shoe of the moment — the Sketcher Shape Up and its attendant clones.

This horror represents the apex of the goober shoe movement, which began innocently enough back in the sixties, I believe, with the introduction of the Birkinstock. Germans and others schlumped along in these things for years without much notice, and then sometime in the ’90s they became popular in the U.S. and suddenly everyone looked like Jesus, but with arch support. I myself endorse Birkinstocks and have two pairs of them — but I’m not saying they’re adorable or anything. I call them “serviceable chique” and will argue their merits to my dying day.

Same with Dansko clogs. Or, as I initially called them, Frankenstein shoes. These thick-soled numbers were favored for years by chefs and surgeons until, again, the general public caught on and they began popping up all over the place. I shalt not hate on the Dansko either for, like the Birkinstock, I have several pairs. I might even have a custom-designed pair with sunflowers on them. Maybe.

So that brings us to Crocs, those giant, rubber/plastic cloggie monstrosities that are so comfortable that I think that we shall never, ever be rid of them. They are too beloved by grannies and jammie-wearing Wal-Mart shoppers. The knock-offs are everywhere. Mercy, they are comfortable and yes, I do own several pairs. Mainly I wear them around the house, as slippers. Fortunately, they do offer some saner designs, which I can wear without spitting up in my mouth a little. How’s that for a ringing endorsement?

Crocs cemented the goober shoe movement and I maintain, Sketcher Shape Ups sealed the deal. We may never be able to go back to a sane world where people routinely wear Evan Picone pumps and black wing-tips like God intended.

But back to the Sketchers. I will never forget  my first sighting — on an ad in the subway station in New York City. It was August 2009 and I gasped aloud.

My eyes darted around the subway car. Not a Sketcher in sight. And then … and then: I spotted them. A trendy New Yorker, power-walking down the boulevard, her poor feet clad in Sketchers. I knew it was all over. “Oh no! No, no, no!” I remember thinking “It’s here in New York! In two or three years they’ll be wearing these things in Kentucky!”

And so they are. They’re everywhere. I saw knock-offs in Target. People in my walking park are polluting the pathways. And just this week, I saw them in a place I least expected it. In church. Yes, at Mass. On the feet of … I can barely bring myself to say it … the priest.

So now you know. The Goober Shoe Movement is irrevocably here. If a man of God who most often wears black feels the Shape-Up is for him, we can only conclude that footwear as we know it will never, ever be the same again.

I’m sorry, Father — truly, I am. Can I interest you in this stunning pair of wing-tips, though? I hear they’re all the rage at the Vatican.

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I know what you all are thinking and you can just stop it right now. Just because I tried on a pair — just to make sure it didn’t like them, mind you — doesn’t mean at thing. A THING, I tell you.

Somewhere, some Birkinstock executive is laughing.

Sock it to me

I’m a fan of shoes; it’s a fairly well-established fact that I more or less view life through a high-heeled prism and any conversation you’re apt to have with me might either end, begin, or somewhere in-between contain the words “heel,” “sole,” “pointed,” “adorable,” “stocking,” or “boot.”

Or, perhaps, all six.

Given this information, it will come as no surprise to you that I also spend otherwise productive amounts of time ruminating on the subject of socks. They are, after all, devices which encase the feet — that alone gives them a leg-up on any other type of attire. The color, weight, thickness or thinness, appropriateness and compatibility with the various kinds of footwear … it’s all absorbing to me. As I strolled along the grocery aisle yesterday afternoon with my daughter, I engaged her in discourse on the socks I was then wearing — black, thick, servicable numbers that I generally wear with boots. Thick, as I say. Yesterday, I had crammed them into clogs that I usually wore with thin, stocking-like affairs with absolutely delightful results. Normally this clog made my feet tired after only a few hours of wear, but with the addition of thick socks, they were magically transformed into the comfortable shoes they should have been all along. I was delighted with my discovery.

“Socks,” said Claire. “Gotta love’em.”

OK so, while no one’s going to be tremendously bowled over by this vast philosophical insight, it did get me to ruminating on socks in general and the various problems and delights I have had with them over the years.

First and foremost — One Size Fits All.

Oh it so DOES NOT.

For most of my life I’ve worn a size 9 shoe — not tremendously big, but you know, a little bigger than average. I’m 5-foot 9, it’s proportional, right? In the last few years it has been brought to my attention by the expert fitters at a local running store that I actually wear a 9½ — so be it. But come on, sock industry, One Size Fits All? How could I possibly wear the same sock that Miss 5-Foot Nothing slips on her size 6 feet?

So it was with a great thrill, many years ago, that I discovered in the now-defunct McAlpin’s Department Store the existence of Tall Girl Socks. Oh yes. Socks which promised a heel that covered my heel and did not end up somewhere in the vicinity of my arch. An array of colors. Substantial, durable construction to stand up to even the most problematic of footwear. They were located on the second floor next to the escalator. I was a frequent shopper.

Yes, of course they were discontinued. Yes, of course McAlpins went out of business. Yes, now I buy socks that have no reasonable acquaintance with the location of my heels, or I get men’s socks, which are always, always, ALWAYS too big.

Problem #2 — Children

Yes, this heading could apply to so many things, but today we’re talking socks. The worst thing ever in the history of garment manufacture is baby socks. Just imagine: you’re the mother of a darling newborn, whose very existence is completely dependent upon you, the mother. You grew the thing in your womb; now you’ve got to feed and clothe it now that it’s emerged into the wild. It has tiny darling sweet little feet which, even in high August, are bitterly, bitterly cold. So as a conscientious mama, you sock those baby feet. Pow, the baby kicks them off. And why? Because people who manufacture baby socks apparently have never seen an actual baby and mistakenly believe that their feet are an inch and a half long. The heel of the sock hits Baby Foot around the end of the toes. If you’re a month-old infant, you have four jobs: eat, sleep, poop, and kick off socks. Bonus points if you can do all these at the same time, while crying.

Probably somewhere in the universe — more likely, on the Internet — are socks that would fulfill my every sock need. Perhaps I have even perused such a website (like a couple years ago when I got friends’ new baby faux lace-up sneaker socks, not unlike the Nike numbers pictured above). But as a consistent thing, life is punctuated with sock peril. They don’t fit, they flee from pairing. White socks get dingy, all socks get holey.

I shall continue my quest for the Perfect Sock — and since socks and shoes go together like peas and carrots, I foresee that this is a Destiny that I can cheerfully fulfill.