Crocs are for the birds

Editorials featured in the Forum section are solely the opinions of their individual authors.

I’d like to design a shoe. The shoe would be comfortable and relatively versatile — I want to be able to wear it in more than one place and to do more than one thing. Besides being functional, the shoe would be at least remotely attractive. Even if it’s best for a specific activity, the shoe wouldn’t look like a fish out of water in everyday life.

Now, what shoe are you picturing? What do these descriptions conjure up in the mind? Is it, say, the opposite of Crocs?

Crocs are chunky, rubbery, gaudy shoes. The best-selling version has massive, sweat-releasing holes. And with colors such as fuchsia, lime, and “orange (coral)” (which are actually not the same colors), these plastic platforms have no problem rivaling the most blinding colors rarely found in nature.

First of all, using an abbreviated version of the name of a monstrous, murderous reptile does nothing but beg for doom. I would personally like to keep my feet firmly attached to my legs, rather than to lure crocodiles searching for their little brothers or sisters to come snipping at my ankles, thank you very much. Secondly, the most popular Croc is called the “beach.” Apparently not capitalizing a proper noun and referring to a warm, outdoorsy location makes a product seem really cool.

A handful of other Crocs shoes are called “cayman,” “nile,” “islander,” “aspen,” and “athens.” Again with the lack of proper capitalization. And, according to Crocs, Aspen (as in that place people go skiing) is best represented in a shoe by a supple rubber material just like that of the “beach” minus the gaping holes. This way, snow has no way of touching your precious toes. But, um, your exposed heel protected only by a thin strap of plastic might get a little frostbitten out there on the slopes. Apparently the Nile River is also best traversed in sweat-inducing plastic material with a cutout for the toes.

According to the Crocs website, the shoes were created for boating and the outdoors. This seems reasonably plausible. While such colors as purple and bright yellow may not be totally appropriate for the laid-back nautical lifestyle, the general ideas of a supported foot base and holes from which water can escape are generally good ones. Also, rubber won’t become saturated or stained like a regular canvas shoe, which is a plus for gardening or boating.

But what about for walking around campus? Unless you crawl to class on your hands and knees picking weeds from around the shrubbery, or take a sailboat across Forbes Avenue, plastic shoes with massive holes in them do not seem entirely ideal for the Pittsburgh environment. In fact, if you’re not planning on going boating or doing some intense gardening, wearing shoes with huge holes around your toes (what Crocs calls a “ventilated toe box” — hot) is almost embarrassing. The holes are just an attempt to keep you from slipping around in your own disgusting foot sweat. You know, from being crammed inside a clunky, glorified rubber glove.