I decided that since I am essentially giving up on the idea of fighting every single business who objects to me being barefoot I should find some sort of compromise solution. Today I went out and bought myself a pair of Vibram Five Fingers shoes which you may remember from an earlier Barefoot post and you can see in the picture below.
They feel very strange initially as I have never had a sock or shoe that wraps each toe individually before. The soles are extremely thin and flexible so I can actually feel cracks in the sidewalk and the edges of paving stones quite clearly which is great because that sensation of knowing the ground I walk on was one of the big selling points of going barefoot for me. The shoes succeed dramatically in some ways:
-I can walk on rocks and hot pavement without discomfort.
-I can go into stores without fear of harassment.
-The shoes are very light if I want to carry them.
-The shoes give the same stride and exercise benefits of actually being barefoot.
They aren't as good as actually being barefoot in many ways though.
-I can't feel the breeze on my feet.
-My feet get hot and sweaty just like any other shoe which does not occur while barefoot.
The new shoes end up being not so much a replacement for being barefoot as a compromise. They are pleasant to walk in and solve all of the issues being barefoot has but they aren't quite the same. In some ways it feels ridiculous that I had to go out and solve my issues with a consumer product considering my aversion to buying things I don't strictly need. I always prefer to use things until they break before getting something to replace them but these new shoes do fill some particular niches where my current sandals utterly fail so I suppose I should just accept it and move on.
Apparently lots of other people feel the same way I do. There are only two stores in Toronto that carry these shoes and they are sold out within a few days of getting a shipment in while constantly fielding calls from people asking when more will arrive. I suppose I should enjoy being in on a new 'fashion' wave before it becomes mainstream - that may well be a first for me.