I KNOW I look really stupid, but I have a fair defence: they were cheap.
Maybe the fact that they were cheap should have sounded some alarm bells. Things generally aren’t at a reduced price unless they’re stuck on the shelf. I got them for $20 at a warehouse-style clothing outlet that prides itself on affordable bogan chic. My shoes – damn, I’m only 41, why have I done this? – were those ‘healthy’ types. You know the ones…with the thick rocking horse sole.
They’re supposed to make you upright, improving your posture immediately. Trouble is I’m stumbling all over the place like a club-footed drunk. I’ve never been more upright, but I’ve never looked more stupid. I’m not a tall man, but I have extraordinarily large feet. I’ve always avoided pointed shoes, because I look ridiculous in them. With my rocking horse shoes I look like I’ve been hooked into twin jet skis.
My 13-year-old son laughs at me: ‘Oh, Dad. You look so dumb. You like Ronald McDonald trying to be sporty. You look like Frankenstein trying to be cool. You look like…’
‘Yes,’ I say. ‘I get it.’
Even my chiropractor laughs at me. Before I made the purchase I had the idea of owning a pair of shoes like these. I asked him: ‘Do you reckon those shoes…you know, the ones with the really thick soles, would help with my posture?’
‘Yes,’ he said, ‘but frankly, they’ll make you look like an absolute dickhead.’
After the purchase, he offered an honest assessment: ‘Now you actually do look like an absolute dickhead.’
And my posture?
‘I can’t tell,’ he said. ‘You won’t stay still.’
A long time ago – I was in my 20s – I was the lead singer of a spectacularly unsuccessful band. We once played a pub gig to an audience of three people and we knew them all – friends and family of our lead guitarist. But we took ourselves very seriously, especially me. I drank a lot onstage, and I stumbled and ranted. Full of middle class angst, I was – at least by my own assessment – fairly cool.
Fast forward almost 20 years, and here I am. In the same shambolic state, but completely sober and completely uncool. Rolling around the place, not from substance abuse, but bizarre footwear. My posture may be ramrod straight, but my crumbling ego is at risk of disappearing altogether.
I have werewolf hair sprouting from my ears. My back hurts, my feet hurt, things go pop when I move too fast. But I do have some small sense of pride. I’m no longer a hipster, but I do have some small sense of cool.
These damned rocking horse shoes aren’t good for anyone. They’re too uncool for young people, and too dangerous for the middle aged. They’d be certain death to the elderly.
Death to the rocking horse, I say. It’s a question of which vanity to choose, but I’d rather have poor posture than look like a dickhead.