When I was little, my excitement for summer had a little to do with lazy television days, pool parties, and watching Matthew Carrier play little league baseball, and a lot to do with getting a new pair of Dr. Scholl’s “Original Exercise Sandals.” I anticipated my new pair as soon as the winter icicles started to melt. Months were spent deliberating which color to get. Back then, the choices were red, blue, black, and white, but I agonized long hours about which would be the perfect color for that summer. I could get only one pair and took very seriously the four month color commitment. Each year I’d resolve to try a bold red or blue, but I always wound up choosing unassuming white.
In April, Dart Drug would get in its summer stock of Dr Scholl’s. They came in their own kind of shoebox, narrow, with the color of the sandal stamped in a rectangle on the side. I would carry that box reverently from the drugstore into the car and then into the house. In my room, I’d unpack the sandals and the first thing I would do, as if initiating them into my life, was run my hands along the curved, smooth surface, which reminded me of sand dunes. Then, I’d fit the strap, clicking the metal snaps into place. After that, it was four months of living warm-weather life in my Dr. Scholl’s.
I could always mark the passing of summer by the degree of wear to my sandals. By July the rubber sole at the heel would be worn off at the corners, which made my step somewhat lopsided. By August, there was hardly any rubber left at all and I was flopping around as if on tiny wooden trays. Then, usually by the end of September, my Dr. Scholl’s would become unwearable and I would pack them back into the box they came in, eventually having to put them out with the trash. I would do this with the same kind of sadness I felt each year at having to put the family Christmas tree out on the curb on a bleak January morning. It was the end of an all-too-short and always magical season.