Months ago, I wrote about an adventure sandal known as the Chaco. As a piece of footwear, the Chaco has never disappointed me. I’ve worn it eating in fancy restaurants, hiking in the mountains, trudging through deserts, striding on the bottom of the ocean, and creeping through strangers’ bedrooms. With each new task, the sandal proved itself and revealed astonishing layers of durability as well as a gentility unknown to most footwear.
Allow me to now introduce the Sperry, my other pair of shoes. A mainstay of New England preps in the North and sorority sisses and fraternity bros in the South, the Sperry is a boat shoe. Placed on the feet, it goes well with white pants, pearl earrings, and brightly colored popped collars. As a piece of footwear, it has the laid back attitude of an undergrad at Ole Miss who will never fear unemployment because he attends class in a building named after his family.
Unfortunately, I don’t look for such a laissez faire attitude in my foowear, which is why the Sperry sucks.Unlike my faithful, industrious Chaco, I often find my Sperry lacking. According to Sperry Top-Sider Shoes’ website, the first Sperry boat shoe was invented after Paul Sperry looked at his dog’s paw after watching him run on ice. While gazing at Prince’s paw, Paul was taken by the grooves that allowed his collie companion to sprint without fear of falling down. Shortly after this mystical experience, he used a penknife to carve lines in a shoe so sailors could walk as fearlessly as Prince.
Thus the Sperry Top-Sider was invented as a boat shoe, a shoe with purpose and function. This noble and well intended beginning stands in sharp contrast to the pitiful depths to which the shoe has now fallen. My complaints against the shoe are numerous, but allow me to begin with the ridiculous leather shoelaces that function as laces only slightly better than Twizzlers. Any shoelace with this many edges and in the shape of a long skinny cube is clearly flawed. I am constantly forced to re-tie the shoe, exposing myself and my rear end to God knows what dangers.
Furthermore, though the shoe is advertised as a boat shoe, the sorry examples of footwear currently adorning my feet nearly dissolve in water. Even after waterproofing them, their performance was mediocre at best and nauseating at worst. Have you ever slogged around a city for hours dreaming only of a warm, crackling fireplace to throw your shoes into while shouting profanities?
Last of all, the Sperry Top-Sider is not a durable shoe. After a year of solid wear, the soles are almost completely worn through and the leather is so soft it could be thrown in a crockpot and turned into a toothsome winter stew. I do enjoy a good stew, but that is not why I bought the Sperry. I bought it to wear on my feet.
Right about now, I’m wondering: why do I even bother buying these shoes if I hate them so much? Unfortunately this is a question that will have to wait for another time. Let me say, for now, that my own stupidity and stubbornness compels me to wear these travesties year after year.
Some people once said inspirational things that when combined sound kind of like this: “be the change in the world because it begins in yourself today.” That may be true, but I can still put off buying different shoes until tomorrow.
Nota Bene: The company does make “performance” shoes, but if you’re marketing yourself as a boat shoe company and the shoe handles water more poorly than a scrap of paper towel, are you really any better than a common criminal?