Manfeet of Rockaway

 Previously Published in The Wave.

Manfeet are neglected, and rightfully so.  But no matter how unseemly they may appear, they are still among God’s creations and merit consideration. Walking on the boardwalk, you’ll see them variously clad, and that’s got me thinking: how do the men of Rockaway feel about summer footwear?

Of course, many Rockaway men are sworn devotees of the traditional flip-flop. Most appropriate, right? Some locals wear flip-flops well into November. Local legend John Sica is one of those men. He explains this preference, “I hate laces. Heat escapes through my head so I wear a hat and keep my feet free. It’s important to avoid puddles in the colder weather.”


The no shoe. I see the surfers and skaters go shoe-less all the time. It’s like they’re cultivating a human shoe out of their own skin. The feet of these men are calloused and brawny from years – possibly decades – of beach life. The heat of the summer sand, stepping on broken glass or the possibility of smooshing into dog shit is not an issue for them. Props. Keith Vittore is one of these guys, “I started going shoeless when I moved to Rockaway in 2013. Once I got here, I don’t know why, it just felt right. I feel like my feet belong directly on the earth.”


Sneakers on the beach. I’ve seen dozens of men wear their sneakers on the beach, some even with socks. Maybe they’re working and just taking a quick break? It’s unclear why the phenomena is occurring this summer. My husband is a big proponent of wearing his sneakers on the beach. He doesn’t even own a pair of flip-flops or sandals of any kind.  “When you wear flip-flops,” he pedantically explains, “You’re broadcasting to the world that you intend to do nothing of importance all day long. No going to work, no sawing, no yard work, no carrying heavy stuff. Additionally, manfeet are disgusting to begin with and flip-flops, over time, make them hideous. I don’t ever want to see them except my own in the shower.”


The croc. I know only one man who strictly wears white crocs all the time. It’s Rob Bryn of The Wild Yaks and it’s his signature look (white crocs and no shirt that is). He wrote lyrics about his crocs in a song for his new blues band Ye Mighty Wave. “I’m gonna get out of bed. Put my white crocs on my feet. I’m gonna cross the street. I’m gonna go to the beach.”  I asked Rob: Why crocs? “Wearing crocs for me, honestly, is part of my total lack of interest in responsibility. If I wear crocs everyday, I never have to think about what I’m going to put on my feet and you don’t have to bend down to tie laces, they just slip on and off. I can wear them on the beach or at work and they’re easy to clean. It’s like Einstein wearing the same clothes every day. If I wear crocs all the time I never have to think of what I’m wearing on my feet ever again. They’re also buy one get one half-off.”

tagged in fashion, summer