Shoe Fetish

Spectator - November 2002
Spectator — November 2002
By Tom Fexas

Shoe Fetish
Forty years in boat shoes.
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• Part 1: Shoe Fetish
• Part 2: Shoe Fetish
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From a young age, I realized that footwear was going to play a great part in shaping my future. I remember being taken to Manhattan by my mother when I was probably five years old. Being so close to the ground, what I noticed most about the people around me was their footwear, and what I saw made me extremely sad. Surrounding me were oceans of shiny wingtips and loafers and assorted buffed business shoes all scurrying to and fro. Even then, I immediately knew that this type of shoe--and the lifestyle that went with it--was not for me. It may be hard to tell your parents or high school guidance counselor that footwear would play a big part in determining your life's work, but sad but true, that was the case with me.

To this day when I visit a large city and observe its inhabitants, a feeling of profound sorrow for these people comes over me. In the summer, dress shoes, along with the accoutrements--a suit and tie--are hot and uncomfortable. In cold weather, leather soles are hard and slippery. Even though most of the guys you see wearing these shoes probably outearn me by ten to one, I still feel sorry for them and the lifestyle they must lead to "get ahead."

At an early age, my mother tried to set me on a straight, respectable path. During high school she bought me a pair of expensive Florsheim loafers. Those shoes are still in my closet in mint condition and have extremely low miles on them, being worn no more than three or four times.

I got my first real job upon graduation from college. Although I had a degree in marine engineering, I also was armed with a marine engineer's license--a license to run an engine room watch on a steam or diesel ship. Against my parents' protests, I decided to "ship out" because I wasn't quite ready to "shape up" and took a job as a Third Assistant Engineer on the SS Independence, a passenger liner making regular milk runs between the United States and Mediterranean in the fall, spring, and summer and to the Caribbean in the winter. The engineer's protocol dictated that steel-toed boots be worn while on engine room watch, but the damn steel toes would get very hot in the 110-degree engine room. In short order I was wearing soft-toed boots and thereafter, to the disdain of my engine room mates, graduated to boat shoes while on watch. They were cool and comfortable and provided great traction on slippery engine room deck plates. I've really never worn anything else since.

Next page > Part 2: Corporate Dips > Page 1, 2

This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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