"You have no idea what you're doing to your feet with those flip-flop sandals and Converse," she clucked in her soft Swedish accent, looking through the tops of her glasses, elbows resting on her knees as she sat in one of her showroom chairs. The "she" in question? The Clog Master of L.A. Heck, the Clog Master of these United States.
"What you are doing to your arches is terrible. Terrible. Wait until you are my age. Then you will feel it. In your hips, in your back. Then you will be sorry," she shook her head as she tsk-tsked us--me and my NYC homie. We had hunted down her shoebox of a custom-made clog store tucked in a nondescript corner of La Cienaga Blvd. on a quest. My homegirl had come in search of the famed across the nation custom-made clogs that issued forth from these humble doors. Custom-made clogs that changed your posture, your body's balance, hey, who am I kidding, your life.
"Try some on. See what you think," she muttered smugly, setting down a pair of plain black clogs for each of us to try on. "Walk around. Then try these."
The "these" in question were the next size slimmer. Once I tried on the narrower versioner, I longed for the first--a loose-fitting pair that made me straighten my back like a Christmas nutcracker as soon as I slipped them on.
"You think you want the first size. You think," she said shaking her blonde-streaked-with-grey hair. "In a month, you come back complaining. They all do. You'll see that tight is the way to go." I sensed she knew of what she spoke, seeing how she's been fitting clogs for high-maintenance City of Angels types for almost 30 years.
As my homie and I fell rapt under the Clog Master's seen-it-all siren song, we flipped through a book of custom clogs in every cut and color imaginable. What was right for us? A dark-soled clog in disco metallic pink? Clog sandals in gold? Slip-ons in haz-mat orange? Basic brown with a braid? Heart-shaped or tear-drop cut-outs?
A guy and girl walked in while we perused the book and the Clog Master began to beguile their unsuspecting ears with her gentle, but grim sale pitch.
"You, with bad ankles, in those shower sandals," she clucked at the male member of the duo. "You know what I tell women in those skimpy shoes? Wearing those lets your feet flop around like crazy. It's like like doing aerobics without a bra. The women hear this and clutch their chests and gasp, 'Is that what it's like?!' Hmpf. I haven't figured out how to compare it for men yet." The Clog Master shrugs. Hey, she's only human--contrary to all other indicators.
"An actor you would recognize, tall, with bad knees came in here," she told her fascinated audience of four. "He bought one pair from me. The doctors had no answers for his knee pain. Two months later, he comes back in here. He leans over the counter and says to me, 'I hate you. I need to order two more pairs. My knees are better.'"
She skimmed her eyes across each of our faces. It was clear we were defenseless under her piercing gaze and jaded podiatric know-how. An hour and half later, my homie and I walked out of the Clog Master's lair--$100 lighter each with a Swedish footwear song in our hearts. In two weeks, our custom-fitted clogs would arrive and be ready to be broken in one hour a day for a week. Our feet awaited bliss. Our arches would be golden. The Clog Master had risen victorious--like a Viking of lost soles, once more.