Tuesday, June 19, 2007

showdown at the shoe shop

Remember how I said in South Africa that my sandals were stinky and I wanted new ones? Well, I never found any sandals that I liked in South Africa, and haven't had any luck since we returned. I've been a bit stymied on how to prevent the stinkiness from recurring in a new pair. Last week, my friend Banana gave me a brilliant idea: buy washable sandals, then you can just wash them when they get stinky.

So this morning I stopped in a shoe store downtown, which had quite selection of Merrills, the brand I want to try next. We were on the way to Swee'pea's 15-month check-up (yes, he's over 16 months old), and I planned it so I had 15 minutes to buy a pair of sandals.

Unfortunately, it didn't work like that. They had two men working, a older man and his near-adolescent son, and I didn't mind waiting my turn. The younger man's customer seemed to pause, so I jumped in and asked if I could try on a pair in my size. The boy apparently cannot handle multi-tasking, and suggested I wait for his father to become available, who was just ringing in a sale. Fine.

While waiting, I did something horrible and shameful, something I never would have thought myself capable of: I gave unsolicited advice to a pregnant woman. But I couldn't help myself. I mean, she was about to buy strap-on sandals, when she was obviously going to reach full size at the end of summer. "Slip on shoes are the best when you're pregnant," I said, pretending not to notice that that wasn't what she was actually trying on. When she didn't look convinced, I added, "AND when you have a baby in your arms... much easier." She said something about the baby being born in October so she wouldn't still be in sandals then (oh just you wait, I thought... you never know what footwear you'll like best in the final uncomfortable weeks of a pregnancy.)

I got the message loud and clear, if a little late. Her look held a hint of mind your own business with a dollop of why am I suddenly public property?!? I backed off.

When the older man finally came around, I told him I wanted washable sandals, showing him the handful of sandals I liked. "Oh," he said, "those are all leather. You can't wash them." So I explained with some embarrassment, tempered with my usual brazen thrust to ignore it and push on, about my smelly sandals, and how I don't want to keep discarding a pair of sandals every year because they smell. I expected him to show me some anti-odour sandals, or some washable sandals, or some solution to my problem, but he suggested I go to a shoe repair shop, that they might have some -- he lowered his voice -- shoe freshener.

I didn't really like this option because I want some new sandals, and I don't feel like going to the shoe repair shop. Plus, when I'm in a store, talking to a salesperson, I kind of expect them to, I don't know, sell me something.

"Well, what do other people do?"

"I don't know," clearly uncomfortable, looking over his shoulders and mentions something about synthetic shoes making people's feet sticky and leather being better even if it's not washable.

"Surely I can't be the only person with smelly sandals?" I ask.

He shrugs and mumbles something.

"Am I?!?" my voice is getting shrill and just a bit hysterical.

He chuckles. "No I'm sure you're not, but... I guess other people just aren't bothered by it. I've been in the business for 35 years, and it's only about once every five years I get a question like this. I know you can buy -- he lowers his voice again -- shoe freshener, but we just don't sell it here." He says it like it's something nasty, like lube in a lingerie store. "Try the shoe repair shop."

By then I discovered I was going to be late for Swee'pea's checkup so I just left. I don't know if I want to sully my reputation with shoe freshener.

One more thing: the doctor asked about Swee'pea's words, if he had any, and I tried to think of some but I'm not all that confident on his words... they seem to come and go. He uses one a lot when he first learns it, then moves on to another one so I don't know if he still knows the other one. Anyways, after he got thoroughly pissed off with the poking and prodding and restraining, and we were ready to leave, the doctor asked if could wave bye bye. Swee'pea's been getting very good at waving bye bye, and saying "ba baa." But today he said, "See ya," clear as a bell.


Mimi said...

lube at a lingerie shop. perfect analogy.

and, you can totally wash leather, can't you? can't you? what a bad experience. gah. but swee'pea is funny. see ya. ha.

Aliki2006 said...

I agree--stinky sandals are the worst. I know people have a love/hate relationship with them but, honestly Crocs are the ONLY sandal-type shoes I have found that I could wear day in and day out and there is never ever even the faitest smell to them. They make them in flip flop style, too.

Aliki2006 said...

By the way, I have worn many many leather sandals and cleaned them by just walking into the ocean with them, or into a river. Didn't seem to do them any lasting harm.

And when I owned Birkenstocks they never smelled at all. They're just too expensive for me to afford these days.

kgirl said...

pssst - shoe freshener.

That is my new favourite phrase.

Good luck with the shoe hunt, stinko.

Stacey said...

Keens are comfy and washable


For sneakers I just use baking soda.

Kyla said...

Good luck with the sandal search. If you find the answer you will be compelled for share it with the Internet, so all the people googling "stinky sandals" will be able to find solace on your blog. :)

flutter said...

Ok, you're going to think I am nuts, but take Zinc. Zinc Zaps Stink, as my mom used to say. Believe you me, my skanky teenage feet were horrible so I can attest.

Alpha DogMa said...

I use to wear Tevas and splash bleach on them when the smell got too bad. But now I'm in a pair of Columbia leather slides. I Febreze them once in a while. And scrub them with a nail brush and shampoo every so often - with no problems.

So you think that was an uncomfortable shopping scenario? On Wednesday, I was in a hiking store and asked if they stocked Shewees. When the teenage clerk gave me a blank stare, I went on in great and precise detail explaining the Shewees' form and function to the increasing horror of this girl who seemed to think I was some kind of sexual deviant takin' the piss out of her. That WAS embarrassing.

cinnamon gurl said...

Stacey I was all inspired to buy keens but when I got to the shoe boutique they 1) were sold out completely and 2) proclaimed keens the smelliest shoes on earth. At length. Damn.

Bon said...

he said "see ya...?" that's awesome. he's cool, man.

O doesn't really say much at all...a possible word here or there, and "Dada" seems to finally be emerging consistently and in context, but i ain't sure. he's two months younger, so i've been watching all news of boy speech like a bit of an OCD hawk. :)

as for the sandals, the only things that don't stink, for me, are Birkenstocks and Croc flipflops.

Beck said...

I Febreeze everyone's sandals every night before going to bed, as part of my housewifely duties. I have some issues about things, but it really, really works.

slouching mom said...

ok, this was farkin' hysterical.

and it only got better when swee'pea said "see ya."

this post made me laugh; thank you!

(and yes, if the soles are synthetic, sandals will stink. and even putting them in the washing machine won't help. i know, because i've tried saving my boys' synthetic sandals that way. so now i've begun to buy sandals made with only natural materials.

mamatulip said...

I could see that whole stop at the store playing out in my head when I read it. That salesman cracked me up, seriously.

Oh, and "See ya"? Brilliant, SP. :)

Oh, The Joys said...

I think I put my Chacos in the washing machine. Talk about smelly. Lordy. I actually think their website has suggestions for smells.

Christine said...

That swee'pea is crazy cute!

Sorry the sandals didn't work out. Try shoes actually designed to be in water like teva's. And leather shoes are just fine to hose dow, especially if they are sport sandals.

NotSoSage said...

Please, smelly sandals not an issue. Dude, when you react that way when someone mentions that their sandals smell, no wonder you've only had an enquiry every 5 years.

I have a pair of MEC sandals that so far have managed to stay scentless (second summer running) and I have terrible luck with most shoes in that department.

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