With this hot weather, I’ve been wearing sandals quite a bit recently. I don’t mind putting my feet on display. Along with my forearms and my ears, my feet are a part of my body I actually like. They’re cute. They’re not cute as in sexy. They’re cute as in puppies and rainbows.
However, there are three things that annoy me about sandals: 1. they increase the area of burnable sun-exposed skin; 2. they get sticky; 3. they get smelly. To prevent these ills, there’s one thing I want to do, one thing I yearn to do. It’s my secret lust. And I’ve never told anyone before.
Whisper it: I’d quite like to wear socks with my sandals.
In my lifetime, there has only been one unbreakable fashion law that has never shifted, that has never wavered, that has remained as stable as the North Star: you must never, ever wear socks with sandals. Other rules have changed. First, you couldn’t wear black and navy together, then you could. Frames on glasses had to be as thin and as invisible as possible; now giant, chunky frames are all the rage. White socks and black shoes used to be a crime, but now it’s seen as a bit Mad Men and kind of funky. Wearing a cardigan over a shirt and tie would have been fashion suicide when I was a teenager. Now, you’re not allowed to star in an indie movie unless you wear a cardigan over your shirt and tie. Every Irish person who went to secondary school, like me, in the 1990s has pains in their right shoulder because it was uncool to carry your schoolbag using both straps on both shoulders and so we went around with a bag of fourteen books hanging off one shoulder for years. Now, using both straps is absolutely fine.
Every fashion rule I know has changed at least once in my lifetime. Every fashion rule that is, except the prohibition on socks and sandals.
I don’t know if I’m brave enough to break this prohibition. I really don’t. It’s bonkers. I’m the man who walked the Northside of Dublin on a Friday night with a giant pair of pink plastic glasses dangling around my neck. I’m the man who walked up Lansdowne Road in a pink feather boa with mini-glittery-disco balls safety-pinned to me. I’m the man who did announcements in every class in the school I was teaching at while wearing a sexy cat girl suit, with ears, a long tail, a sparkly dicky bow and a sparkly bra, with apples for boobs. I’m the man who once went to a lecture in college dressed as a giant red M&M. I’m the man who wandered around Dublin last Christmas bedecked in tinsel, fairy lights and baubles, with a rosette that said “Pull me — I’m a cracker”.
And yet, I’m scared of wearing socks with sandals. That’s the impact on your psyche of rules learned as a teenager.
Anyway, it doesn’t look like it’ll matter much. My taxi driver tonight said that it’s due to start raining again soon. And I sure won’t be wearing socks with sandals in the rain.
My taxi driver tonight had a lot to say for himself. He said that it was eighteen degrees tonight, which he claims is just like Portugal. I’d be willing to bet that any Portuguese people outside in Dublin tonight are wearing overcoats.
He also said that the Irish are a laughing stock, because of our police force. According to my taxi driver, all the new recruits into the Gardaí are “short little fuckers” and wouldn’t scare anyone. Apparently, we used to have “big country lads” in the police, but now it’s just “five foot two fuckers who want a pension”. And for this reason, we are an international laughing stock.
I shouldn’t be too harsh on the taxi driver though. Because he gave me the best compliment I’ve had in years. At one stage, he turned around and asked me if I had done my Leaving Certificate this year. I was gobsmacked. I told him I did my Leaving Cert in 1999. He said “You only look about 18”. I would have married him on the spot.