A week and I half ago, I decided to spring for a badly needed new pair of sneakers. I took myself to a New Balance outlet not too far from the job and, I have to say, was impressed by the level of customer service I received. The staff actually had those foot measuring devices, which they employed with aplomb. I measured out as a size 111/2 EEEE... on my dad's side of the family, everyone has long, narrow feet, while mom's side of the family has wide, wide feet. Me? I have long, extremely wide feet.
About ninety dollars later, I walk out with a nice new pair of cross trainers, colored a neutral brown color, so they can be worn with just about anything. The coming weekend was the major spring fundraiser, and I knew I'd be on my feet all the doo-dah day. At the end of an eight hour shift, my toes felt cramped (toe woe)... the shoes were a bit too narrow, even though they were the widest size typically available.
I returned the shoes this afternoon, and decided that I'd try a size 12 EEEE (I asked if EEEEE's were even available, and was told that they were not typically made). I spent some time playing the role of Cinderella's ugly stepsisters as I crammed my feet into shoe after shoe. In the course of this trial by fitting, I learned that the front of the shoe is referred to as a toe box, and let me tell you, a tapering toebox is the bane of my shoe purchasing efforts. Can't a guy get a nice pair of Frankenstein shoes?
I settled on a pair of size 12 EEEE cross-trainers, and I'm hoping that they break in nicely. I really can't dick around when it comes to shoes, because I'm on my feet all the time at work, and cover quite a bit of ground in a typical day. Besides, a shoe purchase involves the outlay of a not-insignificant wad of cash.
It could be worse though- as I guy, I only encounter shoe problems because I'm a goddamn mutant when it comes to foot size (a shoetant?). Women are even more S.O.L than guys like me are- women's shoes are a conspiracy against women by guys who absolutely hate them.
I'd be remiss if I didn't relate a story about my brother Sweetums here. Sweetums has size 13 feet, also very wide. Back in the 90's he traveled around the globe. While he was in Hong Kong, he decided that he'd attempt to purchase shoes, because he found the tailor shops in the city to be excellent. Whenever he walked into a shoe store, he'd raise his foot, and the entire staff would gather around, gaping in wonderment and dismay. He then noticed that he'd get on a ferry, and girls would start nervously giggling when they looked down and saw his feet. He took a walk in a residential neighborhood, and a couple of old ladies playing mahjong motioned him over and offered him some tea. When he sat down, and crossed his legs, they saw his feet and started commenting to each other a mile a minute.
I haven't gone shoe shopping with Sweetums since grammar school, but I imagine that he'd be even more hard-put to shod himself that I've been these last couple of weeks.
As much as it pains me to say it, I may have to spring for barefoot shoes. Christmas shoes, however, are out of the question.