I went to the mall to get some new running shoes the other day. I walked into what used to be the athletic shoe store.
Much to my surprise, someone had replaced all the running shoes with bulbous, neon-colored, bipedal lower-appendage encapsulators. These things were not running shoes. They were Corporate Marketing gone Deeply and Seriously Awry.
Half the damn things didn't even have laces. They were "laced" with permanently mounted, miniature bungie cords. There were some very expensive ones there that had no laces at all, and appeared to be made of some sort of red, seamless, space-aged material. They also had some sort of hydraulic shock absorbers under the heels.
They were close to 200 bucks. I am pretty sure that this particular pair was actually sentient, and had I tried them on, they would have immediately melded with my consciousness and then actively conformed themselves to the exact proportions of my feet. For two hundred bucks, that's what they should do, anyway.
I didn't try them on because one, they were too damn expensive, and two, since they didn't have laces, I wasn't sure if I was supposed to put them on manually or just hold my feet up and shout commands like "NikeAir 7880 Extreme! To My Feet!"
I tried a few different commands at various volumes, but none of them worked as I had hoped. (One of them did cause my wife to walk away and pretend she didn't know me, so I'm hanging on to that one for emergencies.)
What the hell happened to regular old running shoes, anyway? You know -- good, solid arch support, not too flashy, something you could wear with Levi's or Dockers in a pinch? I would think twice about wearing 99.9% of these shoes anywhere, including exotic locations like, for instance, my basement treadmill. If you ever did wear them anywhere else, people would be doing double-takes just to confirm you weren't walking around downtown wearing clown shoes.
Also, it was pretty apparent that Malaysia and Bangladesh have almost run out of sneaker parts for the cheaper lines. I say this because almost every single running shoe under $70 seemed to consist of no less than 10,000 tiny, random bits of plastic, rubber, vinyl, leather and nylon -- all stitched together in some grotesque, vaguely unsettling, non-Euclidean geometric pattern. You couldn't look at them for long without feeling light-headed and queasy.* In fact, I'm willing to bet that pound for pound, these running shoes consisted of mostly stitching.
So, long story short, I spent an hour trying to buy running shoes that didn't immediately scream "DUDE! CHECK OUT THESE BITCHIN' RUNNING SHOES!" to everyone who saw them. It was an almost impossible task, but since they were buy-one-pair-get-another-for-half-price, I was not to be deterred.
After digging through roughly 437 boxes of shoes, I walked out of there with two pair of Nike Airs. One pair is orange and white, and the other pair is metallic silver, with bright blue highlights.
I feel ridiculous. I look like Ziggy Stardust. But at least my feet don't hurt.
My acute fashion sense? Well...That's another story.
Shambles. Shambles, I tell you.
*Cthulhu Fhtagn! Beware the Old Ones!