Back in the dark age otherwise known as my college days, the one question I got asked repeatedly was: “Have you encountered a lot of cultural shocks so far living in the States?” My short, honest albeit ambiguous response was “not as many as I had expected“. That was because I had been exposed to American movies and music early on in my life and thus attained some general though possibly distorted ideas of everything. Being in American just either confirmed or corrected rather than formulated them. However, certain things traumatized me and certain sights weren’t very good to behold on a daily basis. For instance, waking up in the middle of the night to my roommate fornicating like a rabbit 5 feet away was one hell of a traumatic experience. He really lucked out that I wasn’t one of those who are religious and believe premarital sex is a sin against God; otherwise, I could have sued his ass off for contaminating my purity. LOL. As for things I hated looking at with a burning passion day in day out:
1. The demoralizing sloppiness of many college students (in my school). I really, really didn’t get it. Even though I hail from the third world where it’s 200 times less civilized, my parents taught me since day one to look clean and presentable in any social environment. That means self-respect and respect for those around. Fair enough. No one had to drip in Versace or Gucci because mine wasn’t a fashion school, but oh God those stained and ripped sweatshirts and sweatpants and peek-a-boo boxers were downright atrocious. Definitely a college memory to forget.
2. Girls wearing leggings and Ugg boots. A moderate dose in the beginning was fine, but then when fall came, every gurl started looking exactly like each other. I respect women in all shapes and sizes, but to be perfectly frank, a lot of gurls just didn’t have the legs for that deadly combo. (They would have had if they had hit the gym.)
3. Birkenstock. Which I didn’t mind in the beginning, but when spring sprung, they were literally on everybody’s feet. I’m pathologically irrational, so when I see too much of something, I tend to hate it instead of growing into it.
Here is the tricky thing: No 1 & 2 no longer had anything whatsoever to do with my life, but No. 3 has been a pressing concern of late. I’m falling harder and harder for Birkenstock, but I can’t pinpoint the root cause. That is worrisome.
For all it’s worth, Birkenstock and Birkenstock-inspired sandals seem to have been going through a renaissance of some sort. They made their first appearance on the runaway of Celine last season. Then, street-style rockstars adopted them. Then, they showed up left and right in the recent spring/summer 2014 menswear collections. And just a few days ago, Vogue officially stamped its seal of approval. If the criteria for an item to be inducted into the hall of fashion must-haves are longevity and durability, then isn’t Birkenstock one of the prime candidates? Its history traces back to as far as the 19th century in Germany where the original concept was born. Fast forward to 1964, the first Birkenstock sandal was produced. The rest is history. Basically what I’m trying to say is that it’s even older than me. As for the comfort factor, I’m here to testify that it’s possible to live in it. I once tried my friend’s, and shamelessly begged to wear it for the rest of the day. Granted that you don’t deliberately destroy yours or use yours over and over again for rock climbing, they can last as long as you want them to. I recently browsed through its website to see what the hype is all about. Oh my…Birkenstock, I was very pleasantly surprised and impressed with the way the design team is fusing the iconic silhouette with fun and fashionable colors and materials. All sell in the neighborhood of $120 to $130, which isn’t necessarily cheap for a pair of slippers but doesn’t break the bank at all. Supposedly it lasted for a year which is a very, very modest estimate by all means, then you would have to dole up 30 cents each day. It’s not an intelligent financial analysis, but you get my point, right? In all seriousness, is it high time that you and I become Birkenstock converts? Is the era of Birkenstock being worn only by midwest suburbanites really over?
Images via Birkenstock USA