Craved a pair of Teva sandals. I've always liked the spare, lean look they flaunt, the wiggling freedom they give your toes. So when I got to Sunnyvale, California, that heart of Dotcom Valley, and when I found that much of the Valley floats around in the things -- and as you will see, "float" is the operative word -- I decided I wasn't leaving without a pair.
Naturally, given where I was, my search began the Dotcom Way: I typed teva.com into the nearest browser. Bingo! Tevas by the dozen, and by all kinds of exotic unpronounceable names, drifted onto my screen. Most were godawful ugly. (One, meant for runners, looked like Reeboks worked over with a Swiss Army knife). Worse, they sported all kinds of exotic outrageous prices. 80 bucks and up for a pair of ugly sandals?! (Not Indian bucks).
What to do? 40 dollars and not a paisa more, I told myself. Many frantic clicks later, I knew: nothing on teva.com came for a sum that modest. I resigned myself to a Teva-less existence.
But then I visited REI, the huge camping/outdoor warehouse. To me, REI has always been a fine example of that curious American tendency: take a simple pleasure, turn it into an expensive, exclusive, gear-laden pursuit. Going biking? Get gloves and helmet and helmet-mounted rear-view mirror, flashy tight shorts, biking shoes, who knows what else. Camping? Get a tent, sleeping bag, water-purifier, bio-degradable soap, dehydrated food, stove with snazzy fuel bottle, backpack, snake-bite kit, special hiking shoes, who knows what else.
I had gone to REI still looking for Tevas. Last year's models get marked down, so the $40 limit seemed plausible again. Sure enough, Perky Young Thing at the store dug out a pair of last year's Tevas. At $39.99, they were comfortably under my $40 limit.
There was also a nice-looking pair by name Chacos. At $89.99, I felt nauseous even touching them. But just for fun, I asked PYT: how do Tevas compare to Chacos?
Should have guessed. "Oh, Chacos are MUCH better!" she said. "They have Vibram soles! Same as on our best hiking boots! Grip better! Tougher straps! Much lighter! Last longer! You'll walk faster! Blah blah! On and on! Let me throw in a meaningless sentence here! I don't believe I can ever stop crooning the virtues of Chacos!"
But suddenly, PYT suddenly seemed to realize she had better tell me something -- anything -- positive about the Tevas, if only to seem objective.
"Of course," she said grudgingly, "the Tevas float."
That clinched it. With visions wafting through my mind of hanging upside down in a murky river from my determinedly floating sandals, I said: the Tevas, please.