Ain’t these beauties? Probably not to anyone but me!
They’re Birkenstocks, purchased for me by TBM on a trip to Brussels five years back. I hadn’t brought comfortable walking shoes; we saw these in a store window; I really wanted them but didn’t want to spend the money. TBM kindly and generously bought them for me, probably so he wouldn’t have to listen to complaints about my uncomfortable shoes on the challenging surface of La Grand-Place. I have loved these sandals to pieces ever since. Literally.
But first, a note about Birkenstocks. It hasn’t been too many years since I came out of the Birkenstock closet. My sister has always worn them, swearing by their comfort. I have told her she looks… well, not terribly feminine in them. Yet she and millions of other hairy-legged women throw fashion caution to the wind and wear Birks (REALLY, I am just KIDDING!!! My sister’s legs are completely hairless. Seriously, she only has to shave about three times a year, but I digress…) Birks now come in dozens of styles and prints and are actually quite cute. One of my best friends has as many pair of Birkenstocks as Carrie has Manolo’s. SO… I finally tried some on to see what all the fuss was about. OMG. You’ve heard it said, right? Once you go Birk, you never go back.
As for my sandals in the picture: I really should have taken a “before” shot last Friday when I dropped them off at a shoe repair shop in Brooklyn. Except for about three inches close to the heel, the sandals had come completely unglued from the cork sole. Then the leather straps worked their way loose, until rather than sandals what I had were multi-flip flip-flops. The more I wore them this past summer, the worse they became. I actually think they were causing me back problems as I shuffled around the house trying to keep them on my feet.
Oh, because, BTW, I should say: I don’t actually wear Birkenstocks anywhere except inside. They’re just too fugly. But boy, are they comfortable. When I come home, first thing I do is slip out of my Manolo’s and into my Birks. Ahhhhh… heaven! (AGAIN, I am just KIDDING!!! I don’t own any Manolo’s. But seriously, putting on Birks is almost as good as that other feeling that sometimes people feel. You know that feeling? But I digress…)
I decided these Birks were beyond saving and I would have to throw them away at the end of the summer, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I can’t stand needless waste, so I decided to give repair a try. I took them to the shoe shop, and a sour faced gentleman behind the counter looked them over and pronounced, “It gonna cost you twenty dolla.”
“Great!” I replied. The man looked at me with surprise. I think he was expecting the quote to be too high, and I would say “Okay, thanks, just thought I’d ask…” But twenty dollars is a steal of a deal compared to a new pair of Birks and I am happy to pay the price! When I picked them up today… what beauties!
Full disclosure: I take shoes to the repair shop all the time. Stretched straps, broken buckles, worn-down heels… when you find a good repair man (not to mention a good pair of shoes) there are few beyond repair. I’ve had my favorite shoes- navy ballerina flats with a wide ankle strap that I bought in Argentina- re-soled twice. Last spring I even had the inner soles replaced. Like new! The thing is, it’s harder all the time to find a good shoe repair. In Disposable Society, when shoes start to wear out, most people simply throw them away. And I’ve noticed… in each of the three boroughs of New York in which I’ve lived, shoe repair shops are usually run by “recent” immigrants. Turks, Russians, Greeks. Even Gepetto was Italian, for goodness sake! Were there ever any Americans repairing shoes?
Another time I’ll share a story about some Americans who are. For now, I’ll just enjoy my good-as-new Birks!