Sneakers Gone Crazy: An attempt to buy normal footwear for adults


For my husband’s birthday I buy him the same two things every year—a baseball cap and a pair of sneakers. Sometimes I skip a few years on the sneakers, but this year he ruined his one decent pair doing yard work. After he started wearing his Ugg slippers to restaurants and doctor’s appointments, I knew it was time to buy him sneakers again.

So for his 30th, we made a family trip to the mall to get the hat and shoe combo. With a borderline contented toddler, we stuck to the yearly routine. First I bought the overpriced hat at Lids, and then we went to the athletic store to get him Pumas.

That’s when I realized I must have skipped out on the sneakers for more birthdays than I thought. Looking around Finish Line, I saw that we had gone to fashion sleep years ago, and had just been jerked awake by extreme shades of orange.

Everything around us was neon and loud and gimmicky. It was like they used a computer to create every possible variation of mesh, Velcro and high tops, and then spat it onto the shelves. The whole store catered to high school kids – not to anyone pushing anything in a stroller.

extreme mens shoes

They didn’t even sell Pumas.

After wheeling our kid through every shoe store in the mall, and it’s a big mall, my husband felt dejected. Then he said the unthinkable,

“I should just get a pair of New Balance’s.”

It was like the mall stopped. You want to wear what?? I wasn’t ready to live with him wearing the gateway shoe to orthopedics. He just turned 30, not 50. We had some time.

After our disappointing shopping trip, I went on a private mission to get him age-appropriate sneakers. Anything to avoid the 609’s. (Just Google “Old Man Shoes” and you’ll find them.) I went everywhere: Dicks Sporting Goods, Kohl’s, Bobs. They all confirmed that we were old.

Our journey culminated with a last-ditch family trip to some new and trendy outdoor outlets. And it was raining. And we took daddy’s car so we didn’t have the good stroller with the big canopy.

First we made a sobering stop at the Nike Outlet where we found sneakers featuring our galaxy.

Nike Zoom

Then we went to the Puma store. That’s where we found them—black sneakers that match everything, hide dirt, have arch support, and aren’t mesh so you can wear them in a New England winter.


BAM. It took a ridiculous amount of time and effort, but I just put off the New Balance sneakers for one more year.

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