Island Packet — Full disclosure: I have never worn Crocs, except for that day with the unpleasant episode of the exploding garbage disposal, about which the less said, the better.
But otherwise, that’s not for any particular reason other than that Crocs don’t come up much. I’m inside all day, and regrettably, I work for a company that requires me to wear human shoes to work (they have a similar policy regarding pants, which I oppose) and what’s more, I am cursed with larger-than-average feet, so wearing Crocs has the unsubtle effect of making me appear to have a small aircraft carrier to each of my legs, which is a highly confidence-rattling way to go about your day.
But that’s OK with me, because very soon, Crocs will be known solely as the ridiculous rubber clown shoes that achieved immense popularity largely because Americans will buy anything if their neighbor has one, even if it makes you look like you’re wearing pickles on your feet.
Crocs were like wearing bathrobes outside, and primarily popular in the lucrative age brackets of 0-5 and 85 and up. (Debates about Crocs, I should point out, once threatened to tear the Packet/Gazette sports department to PIECES. There was a girl who worked here who would regularly, when Crocs were mentioned, get up on her desk and start waving her gun around.)
Anyway, I make the jokes because I generally went with “shoes” that “had ties on them,” but I was in a distinct minority, because something like 100 million pairs of Crocs were sold in seven years to everyone from Steven Tyler to George W. Bush to other famous people no one likes anymore.
But that was during the boom times, and things are no longer quite so colorful and purple for the Crocs company, which lost $185.1 million last year — last year alone — cut a couple thousand jobs and has been hiding under the desk from creditors in regards to a Croc-load of loans coming due this month. There are, I hardly need mention, untold thousands of hot rubbery shoes currently baking in warehouses, mostly because, and it’s hard not to feel a little bad about this, one of the main problems was that Crocs were so durable and long-lasting that no one had to replace them. Frankly, they should have come with a time-delayed self-destruct function, like my garbage disposal.
They were also, I fear, the victims of a negative PR campaign. My son’s day care, for instance, took to sending home in his Lightning McQueen backpack a tersely worded Memorandum indicating that Crocs would no longer be welcome within its walls, due to those nebulous and ever-present Safety Concerns that seem to pop up whenever anyone is in need of a quick and inarguable justification for something minor, as though each shoe came attached to its own propane-based heating system or tiny Ziploc packet of swine flu.
At the time, of course, he had been rocking Crocs successfully for a statistical majority of his life. Crocs are, of course, perfect for children, who spend an awful lot of their days splashing about in semi-liquid materials of displeasing origin, and call me a hypocrite, but one’s own petty fashion concerns go directly down to Flushville when one is presented with a variation of childrens’ shoes that can be hosed down — so the adjustment to regular human shoes was something that was met with a solid week of good hard whining.
But on the whole, the Crocs story is one of distinctly American ragtag silliness. They were one-hit wonders, Dexy’s Midnight Runners in shoe form. Everyone knew someone who loved them, and then one afternoon at about 3:30 p.m., without so much as an informal heads-up, the collective American shoe-buying public went, and I’m quoting here, “Meh.” And, just like that, with just a hot-flash of consumer mall-time shruggery, the Crocs nightmare was over, the shoes chucked to the back of the closet, waiting for maybe the kind of smirking nostalgia trend thing that makes people still yearn for the ’80s for some reason. The lesson being: Do not get terribly attached to your shoe company. The second lesson: Do not put a lot of large vegetables down in your garbage disposal.