This summer that's practically in the rearview mirror now was going to be the summer I fell in love with the sandal. I've never been one much for sandals because I hate looking at feet, my own as well as other people's. My worst nightmares involve those in which I'm employed as a pedicurist. Yeah, it's that bad.
But I also don't like to be uncomfortably or unfashionably warm, and I figured the current trend of gladiator sandals would be a good compromise between my love of black leather and lots of hardware and my need to stay fashionably cool in the hot months.
I went to DSW.com and bought four pairs of sandals- two pairs of Steve Madden "bandage" platform sandals, which feature criss-crossing elastic and four-inch heels (one black and one ultraviolet) , a pair of 3-inch black gladiators by Blowfish with lots of buckles that my sister dubbed the "dominatrix shoes" at first sight, and finally another pair of Steve Maddens, flats, made of faux brown and tan snakeskin that zip up the back for easy on-off. That impressed the heck out of me. The thing all these pairs of sandals have in common, besides their obvious edge and gladiatorness, is that they were all rated "super-comfy" by fellow DSW.com shoppers.
And when I tried each pair of sandals on, upon their arrival early in the spring, oh my lord, you probably heard the "SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!" They really were comfy! I'm short and hating it, so I'm no stranger to four-inch heels and shoes on platforms, and by those standards, the "Bandage" shoes were pretty great- with skid-proof treating on their soles, a good angle and a pretty comfortable footbed. The Blowfish dominatrix sandals were even better, with their padded and sueded footbed, the slightly lower heels, and for-real rubber soles. And the snakeskin zip-up Steve Madden gladiator flats- well, they're flats, so how bad could they be? The rolled leather thong on those gave me pause, a little concern, but come on. Flats. Babies and guys wear flats.
The first pair of these sandals I began to doubt the comfort of was the brown and tan Steve Madden gladiator flats. I wore them with a white skirt and blue top to "girls' day out" at Susquehanna University- a day when my two besties from college and I returned to our old stomping grounds, took a walk around campus, then went for an afternoon of milling around the Susquehanna Valley Mall. I was over the rolled leather thong between my toes by the time our lap around campus concluded. Some inconsiderate son of a boob managed to design those shoes so the seam of the thong is placed right in prime blister-rubbing position when the wearer is walking. Plus, they're thin-crust-pizza flat, so I was that uncomfortable walking around, and still a mere sixty-four inches.
The dominatrix-y sandals with the rubber soles and squooshy-cushy footbeds were the next of my four horsemen of the comfort apocalypse to do me wrong, and these made me cry when I realized just how uncomfortable they could be, because I'd worn them on lots of shorter and moderate walking trips to parties and shopping all summer, with no blisters and much success. And so of course I decided to pair the skorts and skirts I took with me to New York during the Big Apple's big heatwave at the end of July with the dominatrix sandals. I wanted comfort and style, and as far as I knew, these sandals delivered.
Okay, so we WALKED (upon my suggestion, because DSW.com said the very sandals I was wearing were 'super-comfy!') from our hotel in Times Square, at the corner of 51st St. and 8th Ave. all the way through Central Park to the Museum of Natural History. I began to question the "Super-Comfiness" of these shoes about midway through the park, but my bubble was completely burst as we were sitting under the dinosaur skeletons in the museum lobby. My husband was getting his bearings, looking at the map of the museum, and I was trying to figure out if this was the sort of place that sold Isotoner slippers in its gift shop (heads-up: they're not) because I had the most epic blister I've ever seen.
The whole time we were at the museum- from 10 a.m. until 2:30 p.m., I could feel the blister throbbing, and my husband would hear no complaints, first of all because I insisted on wearing those stupid sandals and secondly because I insisted on walking to the Museum instead of taking the subway. In my defense, I was thinking in Philadelphia-scale, not New York-scale. So by the end of the day, with all the little children running around the museum like screaming banshees, I began to understand why the Wicked Witch of the West wanted to get Dorothy, another insufferable little brat. The Witch's feet probably hurt, because she was wearing Blowfish gladiator sandals, and that twit Dorothy had the ruby slippers, which as everyone knows, have the body of a Manolo, but the soul of a Nike.
In an uncharacteristic show of self-restraint, I didn't pop that ginormous blister that night. My husband tells me they heal faster if you leave them alone. So the next day, I wore a sneaker-friendly skort and my Skechers Shape-Ups- the cool black ones- and even though I looked like Olive Oyl, except short with stubby little peasant legs, I was "super-comfy" hoofing it all over Lower Manhattan, Liberty Island, and Ellis Island. Although, somewhere halfway through Battery Park, the blister popped, and I lost a full two inches of height on the left side. That's how blistery the blister was. But it felt so much better! And that day I realized that it might not have been that the Witch's feet hurt that she wanted Dorothy's head on a stick; it's because children are obnoxious, and so are their parents who think it's so damn cute to just turn their little demon spawn loose on ferries and at tourist attractions and act as though it's the peevish adults who have no sense of humor when the little brats run into you when you're trying to hear the tour guide.
On the penultimate night of our trip, after two full days of running around in those glorious sneakers of mine, I pressed my luck right out of my life, deciding to wear my black "Bandage" Steve Maddens to Grand Central Station's Oyster Bar, then "Rock of Ages" at the Brooks Atkinson theatre. Well, long story short, not only did I give up on our way from the Oyster Bar to the subway platform, I effing gave up and bought a pair of ten-dollar flip-flops that are worth about a dollar-forty-nine and cost half a cent to make somewhere in China, and wore those the rest of the night. I carried the "Bandage" shoes like a badge of shame and tossed them unceremoniously into my suitcase when we got back to the hotel, which is where they are to this day.
Shlepping around in 100+ weather in ungodly humidity, none of these sandals are "super-comfy," neither for standing, nor walking around in. I've just come into a fresh box of Dr. Scholl's moleskin, though, and plan to pimp out the gladiator sandals for fall.