While having my walk critiqued by the Swedish clog-fitter, I worried that the reptilian remnants of the fungal infection on my left big toe would deposit some stray bacteria in this model wooden sole, and whoever would try on the patent red leather Rimbo model size 43 would be unjustly infected. And really, the last thing I want is to make life harder for ladies who have to get 43s specially ordered. I small-talk-bitched about the difficulty to find footwear for the longer-footed lady, and the Swedish mistress matter-of-factly pointed to drag queen garage sales as a reliable solution to my problem. Can you catch diseases from wooden footwear? I thought while she fanned out leather swatches on the queen hotel bed, asking me about scalloped edges. I’ve never worn craftsmen houses on my feet before.
After my arch, ball and toe-span had been assessed to satisfaction, I was asked about my benefactor — how did I hear about them? In the line of coffee, blazers, birth control methods and the latest Richard Thompson album, my mother had told me. The stout lady at the computer with a silver butch haircut and bejeweled eyeglass chains found my mother’s record, a member since 2007, and asked me about my childhood in L.A. We exchanged freeway folklore, praising the 2 and love-hating the 110. I really do love the 110, it’s a joy to drive on, where taking the curves too fast causes a centrifugal pull of your butt out of the driver’s seat, reminding you of how great it feels to move an ass that’s been immobilized by traffic.
I suddenly realized I didn’t know if I was supposed to tip them. I wanted to give these clog ladies the respect they deserved, for devoting their past 30 years to the craft of welding leather and wood to ergonomic perfection, creating that perfect rolling motion that propels you forward through your entire lower body without stressing your ankles. Surely someone who had fitted Thomas Keller (who apparently has terrible knee and foot problems) and dealt in the restaurant and medical professions is a type of professional themselves, even if they aren’t personally crafting the object. The fitting mistress groaned a bit about the lack of respect for craftspeople who create beautiful functioning objects and an industry that prefers academia and degrees to the discredit of the old and respectable artisanal way of apprenticeship and experience. Not that a Clog Academy wouldn’t have merits, learning the business strategy and economic side of things, but now you couldn’t even work in a factory if you didn’t have a BA.
I left feeling held, comforted and taken care of, with the best part still to come. When I first arrived I rang the doorbell (the badly formatted email I received two days prior told me to not knock, because they wouldn’t hear me) and Cecilia, who opened the door, greeted me with “Excellent, you followed all the instructions. Come inside.” I was instantly terrified. That’s it, I thought, I’ve fallen into a serial-murder strategy of luring young, clog-seeking women into hotel rooms, knocking them out with complimentary tea laced with Xanax and then decapitating them in the jacuzzi-sized bathtub. Articles would be written that mentioned my first name only in a cold list at the end, out of respect to all those families, who had sworn never to touch clogs again (except the black Kisa models that are ceremonially burned on the anniversary of my death). As I walked through the entryway of the room and turned a small corner into the bedroom, I expected to take my last breath from a fancy hotel’s 21st floor’s ventilation system, three blocks from shoppers fighting over sequined flats at Forever 21 and a double-backed line of tourists waiting for a cable car ride.
Man I can’t wait for my clogs to get here.