Nicola Whitfield | Never say never: how Crocs wormed their way into my heart and onto my feet

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(Photo: Gallo Images/Getty Images)
(Photo: Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Ever said to yourself something like, “Not a fudge am I ever going there” – and then find something you loathe creeping up on you, like an insidious soft-soled shuffle in the darkest night?

Well, I’ve been there, done that and got the Crocs to prove it. Owning a pair would be my secret shame if they weren’t so damn comfy. And comforting. And who can blame a person for wanting a little comfort after this s**t storm of a year?

Well do I remember the first time I saw them several years ago, lined up in the window of a shop in a mall, side by side in a garish shade of orange. Crocs are here! the sign shouted. Most comfortable shoes in the world!

Yeah right, I thought. You won’t catch me dead in a pair of those. That fat rounded toe, that ungainly strap, that boaty shape – ugh. I’d rather push sharp sticks in my eyes. In fact, I doubted whether anyone would deign to even try one on, let alone buy a pair.

How wrong I was. Soon they were popping everywhere – on kids, on adults, on doctors and nurses who claimed they were the best things ever if you needed to be on your feet for hours on end. Then we went on holiday to the Garden Route and it was Croc central. One day we decided to see how many pairs we could count and we stopped at about 200. It just became overwhelming.

As a joke, the kids bought their dad a pair for his birthday. He was horrified. Then he put them off and left them on all day (provided he was at home).

Things developed during lockdown. I’d slip his Crocs on when it was raining and I needed to take the trash out to the bin. Sometimes I’d “forget” to take them off and keep them on all day – they were so light it was like they weren’t there.

Crocs.
Something for everyone! The humble Croc comes in all shapes and sizes.(Photo: Gallo Images/Getty Images)

He’d get fed up. “Where are my Crocs?” he’d bellow. “Can I leave nothing around for more than two minutes without things disappearing?”

So he did what any self-respecting Croc owner would do: he went out and bought me a pair. Greenish, they are, and in my size – not four flappy sizes too big like his are for me. Oh, happy day.

On they went. And on they stayed. I even wanted to go for a walk in them once we were allowed out of our little prisons by Cyril and Zweli and Nkosazana. But my husband wouldn’t let me. “They’re for home use only,” he said sternly. “Wear them beyond the front door at your peril. They have their place, but that place is not in the outside world.”

So they remain within the confines of the house and garden. And that’s perhaps for the best. I have a couple of friends who would disown me if they saw me in them – although I challenge them to try on a pair. It may well change their lives.

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