The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

July 14, 2010

There’s a World Beneath Your Feet

Filed under: Random Stuff — Brian Lutz @ 1:28 am

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

By all accounts, my soon-to-be new neighborhood is supposed to be a pretty fashionable place.  In addition to the large selection of designer labels on offer at Bellevue Square and the Bravern, there’s also a whole annual Bellevue Fashion Week complete with gala events, runway shows and plenty of glamour and glitz to go around.  In short, it seems to be the type of place where one might find it necessary to dress up every once in a while.  Although I don’t expect to find myself dropping big bucks on big labels anytime soon, even back when the idea that I might live in Downtown seemed little more than a delusion of grandeur (to be honest, I’m still not so sure it isn’t) I started getting the feeling that I could use to start moving my wardrobe away from the clearance rack and toward something a little bit nicer.  To this end, my two sisters and their husbands were nice enough (and/or desperate enough for me to actually marry someone at some point) to accompany me on a shopping trip this weekend where a fair number of new items of clothing were purchased. 

Among a couple of new pairs of jeans and some shirts was a new pair of shoes.  Compared to the usual cross-trainer style athletic shoes I generally use for daily wear, this particular pair of canvas shoes  (made by True Religion) is obviously intended to be a bit more casual than what I usually wear, but probably still suitable for use in situations where I probably couldn’t get away with wearing the Tevas that serve as my typical Summer footwear choice.  It certainly is a bit of a deviation from my usual wardrobe, but I didn’t think much of it until I decided to wear my new shoes to work yesterday.  When I went out for my usual Noontime walk to grab some lunch, I noticed something a bit unusual:  Suddenly the ground I was walking on had textures to it.  Obviously this shouldn’t be anything particularly odd, as I’m pretty sure I’ve ranted at least once here about Pioneer Square’s mishmash of historic (read: ridiculously uneven and questionably maintained) sidewalks, but while wearing a typical pair of athletic shoes around town, there’s a good chance the only time you’re going to notice the texture of the sidewalk is when you manage to take a misstep and twist your ankle for the umpteenth time.  These new shoes with their comparatively thin suede soles, seemed to actually be thin and flexible enough to transfer some of the various textures of the sidewalk below to the feet inside of them.  It’s one of those things that you never notice until suddenly it’s there.  

Of course, this type of thing isn’t new to some people.  A search on the Internet reveals a number of groups who advocate for a barefoot lifestyle.  After all, if you’re sticking your feet into some heavy pair of thick-soled shoes all the time you’re probably going to miss out on what could be some interesting textures.  It’s also likely that you’ll be missing out on some fun diseases at the same time, but that’s beside the point for now.  In fact, over at Marymoor Park there’s a so-called  Reflexology Path which is intended specifically to provide a place for people to go and practice walking around with bare feet.  It seems that these types of things are actually quite popular over in Europe.  There is a bit of a cottage industry (mostly in Germany, but also elsewhere on the continent) that has formed around so-called barefoot parks designed to provide foot-friendly walking paths with a variety of different terrains and textures to provide different sensations, including muddy paths to trudge through and plenty of water to wade in (admit it, you’ve probably played in the mud a time or two in your day.)  

There seems to be a fair bit of debate going on these days about just how beneficial the act of wearing shoes is in the first place (I’m not going to get into that one,) with some even arguing that all shoes are bad for your feet and legs, period.  If you search around the Internet a bit, you’ll even find a number of groups who advocate just forsaking shoes completely and going barefoot all the time.  While I tend to think that’s a bit extreme (after all, I have my doubts about the cleanliness of some of the sidewalks and floors around here) I find that in some ways, they might actually have a point.  Whatever your beliefs regarding the origins of the Human species, it seems highly unlikely that the presence of big bulky shoes figured too heavily into the original design spec, yet these days it seems to be more the norm in our society than the exception. 

I know a lot of people (especially women) who will take off their shoes pretty much any time can get away with going barefoot.  I suspect that this is mostly a matter of comfort (with some of the atrocities inflicted on the female foot in the name of modern fashion I can’t say I blame them,) but I know of very few guys who would feel comfortable with going barefoot in public, and even less who actually do so.   In fact at times even a pair of relatively reserved sandals can seem just the slightest bit immodest, and I’m sure by now you’ve all heard the obligatory “places where flip-flops should never, never, NEVER be worn” lectures (for those of you unfamiliar with this one, it generally goes something like “Anywhere but the beach”.)  Still, as you walk along the roadways of life, it never hurts to take a bit of time to stop and step on the roses…  Um, wait.  Scratch that.  Actually, that might be rather painful.  And you’ll probably have someone mad at you for stomping all over their prized roses.  But still, every once in a while you just might try finding something besides your shoes to step on.  Who knows?  You might even find something you weren’t expecting down there.



  1. Yes – not wearing shoes is great – if you don’t mind the odd nick and grime – which I don’t.

    Comment by blackwatertown — July 14, 2010 @ 1:32 am

  2. The part about the fun diseases made me laugh… twice. That was the best! By the way, we loved going shopping with you and would love to go again any time, although I think you are set for a while!

    Comment by Heather Lively — July 14, 2010 @ 9:10 am

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