I Bought a Pair of Crocs. I've Even Worn Them Out in Public. Welcome to My Panama Talk

Illustration for article titled I Bought a Pair of Crocs. Ive Even Worn Them Out in Public. Welcome to My Panama Talk
Photo: Panama Jackson

I’m not saying, nor alleging, that I’m cooler than you. You might have designer shades just to hide your face and maybe even wear them around like you think that you’re cooler than me. But what separates me and you (maybe even your mama and your cousin, too) is that, until recently, you wore Crocs and in my head, that was not a cool kid move and because I didn’t (wear Crocs) I at least wasn’t not a cool kid. Also, my double negative game is top-notch. Definite cool kid shit.

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But then I did something that I wasn’t sure if my shelf-of-steam could handle: I bought a pair of Crocs. I even wore them out in public. More than once. I don’t hate myself. Let’s talk about it.

We should start at the beginning. In the beginning, God created the heavens and earth. A little while later God created Crocs. I saw some of you walking around in them and I was confused about what you had on your feet. Also, I wonder if Crocs are the first shoes that also double as visual onomatopoeia. Is there a word for things that look like the word used to define them? Pointdexters? No? Either way, Crocs sound exactly like they look. I remember seeing them and finding out they were called Crocs and said to myself, “self, marketing got that name right.”

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Anyway, I pretty much disliked the shit out of Crocs. But everywhere I look, everywhere I go, I see the same….shoe. Which is kind of baffling because they couldn’t possibly be that damn comfortable could they? (I can provide a spoiler alert here if you’re on the fence about Crocs; they’re comfortable, but nowhere near as comfortable as they should be considering how popular they are amongst the orthopedic shoe gangs. Adidas makes tremendously more comfortable slides.)

Granted, Crocs makes “foam clogs.” Clogs, as you might be aware are literally the least comfortable shoes you can wear. They also suck, in general, for things like basketball. They’re shoes made out of wood and have, like, nooooooo cushion. If you’re looking for basketball shoes I can’t recommend at all. I grew up in Germany, so I grew up around clogs. I’m pretty sure I even won a pair at a festival once.

Anyway, Crocs are backless, strap-ful shoes that are made out of some foam with some traction on the bottom and some nodules in the midsole. I don’t know why I’m explaining this, you know what Crocs are. Hell, you probably own some. Everybody else does. Grandmothers. Middle American white women fuck with Crocs hardbody. I see them on kids (this is how I got here, actually; more on this in a few). I’ve even seen the corner boys in my neighborhood (on occasion) wearing them which seems remarkably inefficient for the task at hand. I wouldn’t know, I suppose; I’m not a corner boy. It just looks odd is all I’m saying. They’re not good for exiting premises expeditiously.

Anywho, everybody and their mama has Crocs. There are even a ton of sneakerhead collabos with Crocs: from Chinatown Market to Alife to celebs like Post Malone and Grateful Dead. Despite this, I’ve always viewed them as booboo. I do own a pair of Yeezy Slides (I had three; purchased for $55 a piece, I sold the other two I owned—no lie—for a combined $530 for a profit of $420...on slides) which I admit could be considered confounding since Yeezy Slides look like sticks of butter with holes cut into them, but that was clearly a Hypebeast move and I genuinely wanted to see them in person; you can’t just walk into a shoe store and get Yeezys. There are whole ass Croc stores, I’ve seen Crocs in person. Did not want.

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Recently, we had a deck built as an addition to our house. This was a brilliant suggestion on the part of my wife. It’s a nice, sizable deck that is perfect for entertaining and a little razzle-dazzle, whether pimpin’ your pen on cold Michigan nights or in the hot California sun. My kids have sandals and tennis shoes and boots, etc. But what they didn’t have—which became apparent with this new deck—was some quick shoes they could just throw on and walk outside. So I decided to go get them some easy, breezy slip-on shoes they could leave by the door. This mission took me on a trip to an outlet center near my home which has a Crocs store. I walked in and there was a sale and I was like, “my kids don’t care about how fly they are at this age, let me go on ahead and cop them some of these on-sale crocs.”

But then I made an interesting decision—I bought a pair for myself. It wasn’t because I had a change of heart, but academic: I decided I wanted to see if the comfort justified rocking goofy-ass looking boy shoes. They didn’t have black so I copped some army green joints. I went home.

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I put them on and walked around in the house with them. Next thing I knew, they kept ending up on my feet. Despite them being comfortable, but not even my most comfortable pair of, um, slide shoe things, I started putting them on all the time. There’s something about that ease of use that got me going; can’t lie, the shit’s provocative. And then came the big test.

I was getting dressed to take my kids to tennis class (relax, we have a pod of parents involved) and I realized that the outfit I had on matched with my Crocs. I did the unthinkable. I decided to rock my Crocs for the day, outside and in public. And then the thing happened that all shoe folks need to happen in order to decide that not only did you make the right decision, you’re also stylin’ these motherfuckers. One of the parents in the tennis group told me that she didn’ think she could look as cool as I did wearing my Crocs.

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I didn’t expect it, but at that point, she gave me vindication. I swagged differently after that. We went to Target after tennis and I was walking around wondering why other folks didn’t have on Crocs. And then I saw the folks who did have them on and considered them my tribe. I saw colorways other folks had on that made me jealous. I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone’s shadow. But I also decided I would go back and get some tie-dye joints that match with nothing and thus match with everything. I’m changed.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I’m wearing the coolest shit ever. But what I did discover is that I can still look cool AF rocking some shit that aesthetically leaves much to be desired. I like them now. And they are comfortable (though my Yeezys are actually more comfortable). I bought some Crocs and wore them out in public. I didn’t hate myself.

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Thank you for coming to my Panama Talk.

Panama Jackson is the Senior Editor of Very Smart Brothas. He's pretty fly for a light guy. You can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking all her brown liquors.

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When you want to look like you just escaped a mental hospital.

Crocs.