I have a confession to make.

I love shoes.

Like, maybe more than a normal man should love footwear.

I’m not entirely sure when my passion for foot fashion started, but since I’ve been an adult with a steady paycheck, I’ve always loved getting some new kicks. Now, I’m not insane about it – I don’t have hundreds of pairs, and I don’t do the whole “5 pairs of the same kind of shoe” thing that many women (and some metrosexual men) do. But when I compare my shoe collection to that of most guys I know, I learn that I’m the only one with:

  • “Good” sneakers
  • “Bad” sneakers
  • Basketball shoes
  • Formal shoes
  • Casual shoes
  • Casual shoes that look formal
  • Casual shoes of a different color than the other casual shoes, but in the same style (example: I own brown, black, and blue L.L. Bean moccasins)
  • Gig shoes
  • Sandals
  • Flip-flops
  • Outside shoes
  • Steel-toed outside shoes
  • Mules (yes, I own a pair of mules that I wear 65% of the time. No, they don’t have a heel. No, I’m not a girl. Moving on…)

Although I have a love for footwear, I usually don’t buy shoes very often because I’m generally appalled by the price. Seriously, if I’m buying shoes so I can play ball, I don’t see why I have to pay as much for them as for a Playstation 3 game. And don’t even get me STARTED on that. So, it usually becomes a fun game of “What Can I Find In My Size That Won’t Make Me Dry Heave At The Price?”. It’s such a fun game to play. I have some big-ass feet, so that eliminates 70% of the available shoes right off the bat. When you wear size 13, you don’t shop by style. You shop by number, as in “How many ugly pairs of size 13 shoes does this store have, and are any of them even remotely presentable outside of Clown College?” Let’s just say that the available styles in size 13 ranges from “Fugly” to “You’ll Never Date”. That was before I heard about a new place: Steve and Barry’s.

Steve and Barry’s is a wondrous store, full of unusual t-shirts, college paraphernalia…and shoes. Loads of shoes. But only one brand. They don’t sell Nike or Adidas or Reebok or New Balance or Converse or ANY of the super-duper major brands. They only sell Starbury shoes. Starbury shoes were created by an enigmatic NBA player and streetball legend named Stephon Marbury (“Starbury” when he plays streetball) as a way to reduce youth crime. Kids were routinely robbing and sometimes even killing other kids for their $150 Air Jordans or whatever’s hot at the time. So Marbury combats this buy offering all his shoes, every pair, every style, for one price: $14.99. That’s right, for $14.99 you can own a pair of top quality stylish shoes that, hopefully, also prevents kids from killing each other for them. I applaud his efforts, and I support him. (I don’t, however, support his extremely erratic professional behavior. That boy ain’t right in the head. But whatever – I’m buying his kicks, not his brains.) The other really good thing about the shoes is that he offers them in larger sizes. When you buy Starburys, you can find them in sizes up to 15, which is just fantastic for big footed man-beasts like me. And you know what they say about men with big feet – they wear big shoes. I was so happy that they had size 14. My toes could wiggle!

The only problem with having every pair be $14.99 is that you no longer have a natural filter. Sometimes when you shop, you’ll immediately disregard certain pairs because they’re just too expensive. You’ve all seen a pair of “fuck that” shoes, where you initially say “Oooh, these are really nice!”, but after seeing the price, you say “Fuck that. They’re not THAT nice.” $14.99 eliminates allll that. I must’ve spent 45 minutes just wandering up and down, trying to find reasons to NOT buy certain shoes. “Black hightops with strings all the way to the top? Pass.” But I finally settled on something, and I couldn’t be happier.

Allow me to introduce you to the newest members of the Damian Shoe Family, aka Las Zapatos Mios.

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Ah, the Nonetheless Shoes. I call them that because they happen to be the same color scheme as my beloved band. In fact, I bought them for that very reason because my other gig shoes were busted. But as I wore them, I grew very fond of them. I mean, look at ’em! They are divine and unique. I wore them to work one day (yes, I did) and no less than 4 people commented on how cool they were. When I mentioned their cost, eyes bugged out of eye sockets. Not lying. I love this pair because they’re lightweight and feel very good on stage. In fact, I liked this pair so much, I went back to Steve and Berry’s 2 weeks later and got these:

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What? They look like the same shoe, you say? How very observant! Yes, they are EXACTLY the same shoe, only in white with gray accents. This is a base shoe, one that can be worn with nearly any casual outfit, rather than specific items like the red, white, and black pair. These are my “clean” shoes, the ones I wear out and about. And I’m fanatical about keeping them clean. One of 4YO’s soccer teammates had a birthday party at a local park, and I wore these, thinking the gleam off of ’em would blind some folks – only to discover that the park was still a bit muddy from a shower the day before. That night, I sat for 15 minutes scraping dried mud off my now unclean shoes, and wiping them down with Clorox Wipes. I’m serious about keeping the damn things pristine. I love these shoes, but when I just wanna rock the casual look, I sport these:

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These are my “throwbacks”, my old-school, Adidas-circa-1987 style sneaks that I rock regularly. They are more comfortable than a down comforter inside a mother’s womb. Or something…else…comfortable… yeah. (Hey, sometimes my analogies hit, and sometimes they miss. The joy is in not knowing.) They have a soft inner lining, and that glowing star on the side is a metallic silver. I love these shoes. These are the kicks I sport at Wal-Mart, at Jiffy Lube, at the free clinic, at the bail bondsman, and at Popeye’s Chicken. I wear these when I hear a weird noise outside, when I chase my escape artist dogs, and when I decide to slum it at work. These are my all-purpose, every day sneaks that take the worst beating. I don’t worry about keeping these clean. They’re SUPPOSED to look beat up and a little grungy, and maybe smell a little funny. When I wear these out, I’ll just go get another pair just like ’em. This is the beauty of Steve and Barry’s, and Starbury.

Hell, I was just in there again Tuesday night, buying some shoes for 8YO. He got the white pair, like mine. I better stock up on Clorox Wipes.

Peace.

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