Monday, November 22, 2010

No Blue Suede

I read somewhere that a person’s shoes are the best way to judge who someone is – their character, their wealth, their personality. So as I sit in the airport waiting for my flight, it’s a great opportunity to check out those people – those feet – around me.

I look around to see what the strangers are wearing.

A few rows away I see a pair of green sneakers with laces that drag the floor. What do bright green sneakers signify? Creativity? Quirkiness? Youth? I look up at the guy who wears them, and sure enough he is those very things. He wears a checkered shirt, a red scarf, Buddy Holly glasses, and carries a ukulele. So far, so good.

One row away is a pair of black leather shoes that are draped by long jeans that drag the floor at the heel. The shoes aren’t typical – they are flat-looking across the top with seams along the edges, with a small heel. Very European, or maybe just Italian American. They could be worn by an older man if the jeans didn’t imply youth. I look up at the man just as he turns, and I see he is indeed Italian – with a goatee and a gold chain around his neck. That’s two.

A few seats from me I see a pair of brown leather loafers. They are clean and new-looking, or at least well cared for. Inside them are navy socks topped by olive green cords with a cuff. This combo looks crisp and rich, and perhaps worldly or educated. The man wearing them bends down to reach into his leather bag and I see he is older, wearing a brown jacket with elbow patches and a dapper hat atop his grey hair and mustache. He could be a professor or a writer. Either way, he obviously has a story. Three for three.

I look around for another pair of interesting shoes, but the rest are a sea of white multicolored sneakers. And they all wear jeans. All are tied (I hoped I’d see a pair of big unlaced high tops so I could guess a man graduated high school in the Eighties.), all look fairly new, all are worn with socks. Nikes. Reeboks. New Balance. They all look like Jerry Seinfeld, wearing jeans and big white shoes.

How boring.

So, I guess from this I can say surmise that the general population is more concerned with comfort than fashion. More interested in conforming than in expressing any kind of individuality. We’ve become the Land of the Big White Feet.

So, what am I wearing today? I look down and see what my feet say. They’re small black Sketchers with grey laces. I’m the only one with black feet. I like to think they look more European. And I guess that’s accurate. I like to be different but not too different. I wish I could live in Europe again. I care about comfort but don’t forget fashion completely. Whoever said that about shoes was right, I think.

What do your feet say?

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