I won't give in.
They're circling all around me, but I won't fall victim to their death rolls. They are plastic, they are loud, they are ugly, and - worst of all - they're so popular they can't possibly be novel anymore.
They're called Crocs, and they're the jelly shoes of 2006.
I remember jelly shoes. I had them in several colors with bracelets to match. I was in 3rd grade, so I forgive myself. I didn't know better.
Several months ago, Lee and I were walking downtown and passed a Birkenstock store. "What are those?" I gasped. Row after row of crocs of all colors were lined along the wall, and I thought I had never seen uglier, more uncomfortable-looking shoes. To my great shock, Lee informed me that these shoes were growing in popularity, and he'd seen lots of people wearing them lately.
It didn't take long for me to see the trend as well. What marketing genius. I see crocs (or imitation crocs) everywhere - on men, women, girls, boys, babies. In trendy shoe stores and in Wal-Mart. And almost never in subtle colors. These shoes SCREAM for attention.
The shoes' popularity exploded so quickly that something inside of me snapped. I don't want a pair of crocs, but it's not just because I still think they're ugly. It's a matter of principle now. If I buy a pair now, I'll feel like one of the herd. Subscribing to a fad that is sure to fizzle out like jelly shoes and UGG boots. One day we'll look back on crocs and laugh. And I want to be smug and say, "I never had a pair. Didn't want them."
In the last few days, I haven't been able to escape the crocs. Saturday night, Lee and I were invited to dinner at the home of an older couple we'd met through work. They both always seemed a bit eccentric, so I was surprised when the husband answered the door in bright red crocs to perfectly match his red polo shirt. As he ushered us in, we were met by his wife. In bright purple crocs to match her purple shirt. They reminded me of a couple of bridesmaids who'd had their shoes specially dyed to match their taffeta gowns. I could assume these are the only color crocs they own, and these are their "croc outfits." But in reality, I imagine they probably have crocs in 10 different colors. They'd been sucked into crocdom.
When we got home from the dinner, I checked my email and saw a note from my mom entitled, "crocs." She'd written to tell me about buying her first pair, and recommending I do the same. Today, I opened the paper and my eyes were drawn to this headline, "Crocs' clog-like, rubber-like shoes making great strides." It was all about the popularity of the shoes - I had no idea Crocs Inc. is now traded on the Nasdaq. One croc fan was described as having crocs in 9 colors, including "the tan ones she wears as dress shoes." Dress shoes? This same woman cleans them by putting them in the dishwasher. #1 - if you can put them in the dishwasher, they probably aren't dress shoes unless they're Cinderella's glass slippers. #2 - I don't want to eat off her plates, even if she has the special sanitizing function on her dishwasher.
But I have a secret. I'd like to try on a pair. I'm attributing this feeling to the fact that my pregnant feet don't fit into any normal shoes, and I hear the crocs can expand depending on how you adjust the strap. I've heard they're cool on hot days. I've heard they're really comfortable. I'd like some comfortable shoes right now.
My mom called me the day after I got her email and asked if I'd read it. I took a deep breath, then raged against crocs for a good ten minutes. Then I felt guilty, because who am I to say what kind of shoes she should or shouldn't buy? She's going on vacation and they'll probably keep her very comfortable. Just because I have a hang-up about buying into the fad doesn't make everyone else wrong.
But I'm not going to try them on, because I don't trust myself to say "no" if they really are comfortable. It's probably best if I don't look the crocs in the eye, giving them access to my soul.