Happy Anniversary, are those real EarthShoes?
Tuesday, August 8, 2017 at 10:01AM
Dale Wayne

Heather and Danielle gave me a subscription to StoryWorth for Christmas.  They send a question to me every week and I write a response. This week's question is: "What's a small decision that ended up having a big impact on your life?" I thought y'all might enjoy the answer.

Real Earth Shoes were the thing back in 1974 when I was a Junior in High School. I remember the first time I saw them. My art teacher,  was a tall  looming man with bushy orange-brown hair and  beard , giving him the look of a Star Wars Wookiee with glasses. He sported brushed corduroy low rise bell-bottoms, a hand-tooled tan leather belt, and shoes with a wide curved toe-box that made them take on the look of clogs. I didn’t like the teacher,  but I fell in love with his shoes. Soon, Earth Shoes were appearing on the feet of ‘cool kids’ and the Harvard Square hippies I  secretly admired. 

Earth Shoes were expensive, and soon knock-off versions made their way into the mainstream, displayed, heels at right angles in storefront windows. My first pair were tan, had a similar but not as wide toe box, and clunky pressed rubber ridged soles that were an inch thick.  I longed for the authentic version with their signature thin heel that rested lower than the toes, purportedly designed for how man was meant to walk. I remember dark green marketing placards  referencing feet in sand or caveman feet, or maybe caveman feet in sand. I didn’t need to be convinced of my primordial ancestors foot anatomy or of the way bare feet leave their imprints on the beach. I loved the style. And my wanna-be versions made me feel like a fraud that fell short of believability. I wore them none-the-less, stalking the authentic versions in stores at the mall, daunted by their price tag.
“You can have them if you pay for them yourself,” was my mother’s solution. I worked part-time at a greenhouse, hands in dirt most of the day as I stood at potting benches with little old ladies and hippies in the back rooms of a huge nursery.  At three dollars and forty-five cents an hour, (I had asked for and received a raise), it took me some months to save up enough to buy the real deal, tan soft leather shoes with the “Earth Shoes” oval shaped logo pressed into the bottom of the sole. I can still smell the smooth, supple chestnut colored leather and feel its unfinished suede underside. The shoes came with the caveat to break them in slowly over the course of a week to accommodate  contemporary feet that were not accustomed to their heel low/ toes high natural inclination .  I wore them for forty-five minutes the first day, then full-time from there on out. 
When I arrived at college in Indiana, my shoes were still relatively new. I soon realized that in Indiana ‘back East’ is Ohio, and a girl from Boston was an exotic commodity. “There’s a guy named John Wayne!” one of my new fast-friends told me excitedly, “ you have to come to InterVarsity and meet him” she continued, inviting me to a Christian fellowship group that met in a basement meeting room.I showered and dried my ‘Dorothy Hamill” haircut  to smooth perfection, slipped on my straight-leg Levis corduroys and peasant shirt, then finished the outfit with dainty rough hewn turquoise and coral silver necklaces. The piece de resistance? Slipping into my prized authentic Earth Shoes. 
I can still feel my sits-bones, square on the floor and my legs outstretched as we sang Christian folk songs .  He was across the circle from me, this 'John Wayne’  I had been told was so cute and who had the longest eyelashes anyone had ever seen. I made sure my heels were propped so that the pressed insignia on the soles of my feet was clearly visible. The meeting ended and we all got up from our seats on the floor to mill around and meet each other. It was the beginning of the first semester of my Freshman year and students were just getting acquainted.  I hadn’t been on my feet for long before a tall lanky good-looking guy made his way over to me. Behind his aviator wire-rimmed glasses were blue eyes and eyelashes so long I later learned his best friend had knick-named him ‘Maybelline’ when they had a falling out in Junior High. (John’s retort was to call him “Curly,” Barry’s Achilles-heel being his frizzy hair.)
“Are those real EarthShoes?” was John’s pick-up line, and I wonder now, did he already know the answer? “Yes,” I responded a bit too eagerly.  Soon I was saying ‘yes’ to a movie date, in a few years ‘yes’ to a marriage proposal, then ‘yes’ at the altar. Real EarthShoes. The best money I ever spent. 

Article originally appeared on Dale Wayne Design (http://www.dalewayne.com/).
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