In Defense of Crocs
During my first year at ERBA I paddled wearing a pair of Timberland water shoes. They were fantastic. Light but rugged. Comfortable. Durable. There was just one problem.
They never got dry.
It didn’t matter what I did those shoes stayed wet. The best I could hope for between tours is that they might dry out to the point of “damp” before I plunged them back into the water again. After a while, well...they achieved a certain aromatic distinction. By late July they were banished to do all of their attempted drying outside our small Salem apartment.
By the end of August when I went back into the classroom they were just about ready to walk themselves to the trash can. No big deal. Paddling season was over and I could start fresh in the spring.
Then the calls started coming in. You see I didn’t know then that an ERBA guide who doesn’t decamp to college has their pick of the plum September and early October tours. I was happy to live in the fantasy of an endless summer. The only problem was, I was facing it barefoot. I needed a solution that didn’t require hours of research. So I went with the shoe that I saw most of the more experienced guides wearing. I bought my first pair of Crocs.
I know what you’re thinking. I felt the same way the first time I saw a pair of Crocs. Those were at grad-school and I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at the pretentious attention starved lunatic who needed to wear bright yellow rubber clogs. Keep in mind this was on a campus where I overlooked the poet who wore an aluminum foil helmet to help with reception of the spirit of his muse.
It didn’t matter. I needed shoes fast. I bought them. Beige. Not too flashy. Gateway Crocs. And
I wore them to work. They got wet. They dried. I broke down a little and wore them around the house. They cushioned my feet against the tile floor. I became truly brave. I wore them out of the house. Nobody stopped to stare. Of course by this point it was October and I lived in Salem. Why stare at the guy with Crocs when a fully outfitted Vampire is behind him on the sidewalk.
Before long I stopped caring how the looked. They were too damn comfortable for that to matter. I wore that pair until the tread wore down to nothing and then I bought another pair. Orange this time. (I drive an orange car. Once that happens orange becomes a lifestyle choice. But that’s probably an issue for my therapist not this blog.) I wore them without shame.
Well...I did. Until I miscalculated the speed of an incoming tide and left them too close to the water.
I replaced those with the pair that are on my feet as I type this. In two days it will be October. Will this pair taste salt-water again this season? Almost certainly. Crocs and fall paddling became my tradition.
So I’m here to tell you it’s not too late...yet...if you want to get out on the water. We won’t make you wear Crocs. But we won’t judge you if you do.