Feathered Bastard

The horror of mandals (man sandals): The New Times Friday poll.

Be afraid, be very afraid: Mandal season is upon us.

You know it's Spring in the Zona when they appear -- the dreaded mandals, or man sandals, which signal the advent of warmer weather. I regard it as being on par with such Biblical plagues as locusts, frogs, water turned into blood, yadda-yadda-yadda. There is nothing more horrific, or more grotesque, than being forced to share space with doods who lack the self-awareness to realize that no one wants to see their naked, hairy hobbit-toes. On the whole, chicks have good-lookin' tootsies. So their fondness for open-toed or otherwise revealing footwear is understandable. But guys have ungainly man-hooves, even when they keep 'em neat and clean. Gay males do this the best, but I have no desire to see their dogs unleashed either.

So this Friday's New Times poll is: "Should mandals (man sandals) be banned -- especially the open-toed variety, why or why not?" What follows are the sometimes surprising opinions of the editorial staff. If they made me God-King of this country tomorrow, I would have all het males wearing mandals shot on sight by our various law-enforcement agencies. Or at least severely caned. When, oh when, will this shameful hideousness end?

10) I've never gone out with a guy who had ugly feet! There are plenty of fine-looking male tootsies out there. Just scout out ASU on a day like today, and you'll see plenty of foxy 20-something guys in flip flops...

9) I'm a dapper dude, and I heart mandals! Sometimes I will even bathe my toenails in baby blue or exotic orange polish -- colors that, respectively, help me get in touch with my feminine and creative sides -- and allow my feet to breathe freely while rocking the toe spreaders. And I am a totally straight stallion in the prime of my youth.

8) OK, this direct from our kitchen. I was just about to write, "Well, it really is all about the KIND of sandal," when (my husband) walked in and I read him your email and He said, "Oh, yeah, I have some of those. But it's ok, because they're from REI. (pause) Right?" I will say no more, as an act of marriage preservation.

7) Do you really mean exclusively literally open-toed? BTW, I have some brand new stylin' men's black dress sandals (almost completely enclosed, Brazilian leather) that I bought for myself before I got my brace. They're an 8 1/2 D, if you know anyone who'd like them. Anyhow, I have an essay on this one. . .

It's really more about the man's vibe than a particular shoe in the abstract. I get a nice Latin/hippie/Biblical vibe from some types of mandal, the huarache or Birkenstock type. And although they expose feet to dirt, if they also expose them to air and help avoid the dreaded cheesefoot, I'm in favor. But then, I don't mind feet in general, to look at. I'm kind of foot-positive. And I don't mind the compromise of sandals with appropriate socks, either -- it's cute, clean, AND ventilated. However, when mandals are trying to be sophisticated and fashionable, no matter what the feet look like, it is to laugh.

6) A man can definitely wear mandals if he thinks they are comfortable, and a man shouldn't give a shit what anybody thinks of his gnarly toes as long as the mandals themselves don't look gay. Better mandals than Crocs, which I DO think should be outlawed for straight men.

5) I'm more disturbed by men who wear shorts, actually. Toes aren't that bad -- what's disgusting is a pair of skinny white legs with tufty hair. Keep the mandals; scrap the man shorts!

4) Mandalas? I can't stand them! Those frickin' Buddhists with their yellow robes and their colored sand. Just who do they think they are? Then they let the wind blow it all away. What assholes! What? Oh, you mean, "man sandals"? Uh, never mind.

3) If they were good enough for the Roman soldier, they're good enough for me.

2) I like to wear mandals in the summer, though I know my toenails are kinda crusty and yellow. I don't wear them to work, though. And I'd never wear sandals w/socks.

...and the Number One answer to this week's mandal-hatin' Friday poll is,

1) Mandals should MOST CERTAINLY be banned. They make me sick, sick, sick. It's not just the gross toes, they also just look fucking terrible, especially because they are most often worn with some form of jean or cargo short. Yuck. The other night a man in Tevas tried hitting on me at the bar, and I have to say, because of the shoes, I wouldn't even take the free drink. Seriously. Even worse -- mandals worn with socks. What's the point? Your feet are still going to get hot and you look like an (even bigger) douchebag.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons