I Walked All Over Crocs. What Have I Done?

While other journalists were traipsing around the country last summer worshiping Barack Obama, I was tackling an issue far more important to our nation than presidential politics: the inexplicable popularity of Crocs. I wrote a call to arms asking my fellow Americans to end this horrific trend. The response was intense: thousands of comments, a handful of death threats, and several marriage proposals, some even from women.

Fast-forward about a year, and Crocs Inc. is losing money hand over clog. The stock is wallowing at around $3 from a high of $75.21 in the fall of 2007 (to be fair, few stocks haven't wallowed). The CEO resigned in the spring, and the most recent annual report raised talk in the press of a possible bankruptcy. I'll admit: my first thought when I saw all this was that the country had heard my plea. Who says the mainstream media are irrelevant?

But then I experienced an emotion unusual in my trade: a pang of regret. If Crocs Inc. goes bankrupt, good people are going to be out of work. Who am I to dis a bunch of hardworking folks who happen to make incredibly ugly and embarrassing-to-wear clown shoes? People buy them! Why shouldn't they make them? I wish I'd thought of it! Without Crocs, legions of sweaty feet will have to be stuffed into inferior $5 Croc knockoffs from Dollar General. Or even worse—and I never thought I'd say these words—they'll don even uglier shoes: these things called Vibram FiveFingers, which to me sound like a Vincent Price Sensurround movie or an illegal massage I almost had once in Vancouver. FiveFingers make Crocs look like a pair of Manolo Blahniks. They're constructed so that each toe has its own slot, and if you happen to see a pair, they will haunt your dreams. They are, however, "a good choice for vegans," according to the Web site.

Time magazine named FiveFingers one of the best inventions of 2007, which should have killed the shoes off back then, since whenever a newsmagazine calls something hot, that usually means the trend is pretty much over. But they survived that kiss of death and are finding their way into polite society.

I still hate Crocs, don't get me wrong, but the company has at least tried to branch out into other types of slightly less ugly footwear, like neon sandals and strange, fur-lined booties. Kicking them now just seems gratuitous. And so, though many of you are offering me thanks and possibly thinking of me as a candidate for high office, I'd like to issue a formal retraction of my stinging manifesto. I wish you Godspeed, ugly-shoe maker. In a world where people are now willing to wear gloves on their feet, your awful, sweat-slicked gnome clogs seem almost forgivable.