It’s been about 25 years since I have tried to get my dad to wear a pair of Birkenstocks. I was flipping through some old photos and there was a picture of him wearing a pair of knock-off Birkenstocks. This picture was taken in the mid 1990s. I was flooded with memories after I glanced at that image.
Those memories painted a clear picture of my first attempt to get him to wear authentic Birkenstocks decades ago. I remember, as a teenager, encouraging him to buy a pair of Birkenstocks because my experience with them had been stellar. At the time, my dad chose to pass on genuine Birkenstocks in lieu of alternative two strap look-alike sandals. Why? Probably because of the Birkenstock price tag.
Twenty-five years down the road and the same two are issues are relevant. One, I continue to try to persuade my dad into purchasing Birkenstocks. And, two, he won’t buy them because they are expensive. It takes my dad a long time to make a decision when purchasing a big ticket item. For example, when he is in the market for a new car, he takes his time, test drives several different brands, ponders over colors, and carefully considers which model of car would best fit his needs. The same holds true when it comes to purchasing expensive footwear. He has essentially been considering buying a pair of Birkenstocks for two and a half decades.
Birkenstocks have been incredible for my health needs over the years. I knew that they would also be great for my dad because he has many of the same issues that I have experienced. My dad often complains about foot pain, knee pain, and lower back pain. Finding shoes that fit his wide foot, with a high arch, is a struggle. My dad has to special order his shoes, like some people special order custom made cars. This is because most local stores don’t carry extra wide shoes that fit his foot. He often tries several different models of shoes before finding a pair that provides him the support he needs without rubbing the sides of his feet.
At times, I felt like a car salesperson trying to talk my dad into buying a pair of Birkenstocks to improve his health issues. I explained to him, just like there are many makes and models of cars, there are various models and materials of Birkenstocks. It was a matter of finding the style, the footbed, and the material that would best suit his needs. I offered to take my dad to the store to try on Birkenstocks, yet he declined. I sent him emails with links on which Birkenstock models to order. I also provided him with his correct European size and the width that would most likely fit his foot. He still did not take the plunge.
When April rolled around, I decided to treat him to a pair of authentic Birkenstocks since I knew he would never do so on his own. After all, I have been having the same conversation with him for 25+ years. I ordered the Birkenstocks in spring to give him plenty of time to properly break in the shoes before summer arrived. My dad had been eyeballing the Birkenstock Milano’s. He was hoping that the three strap model Birkenstock would better keep his feet in the shoes, compared to the two strap Arizona style. He also wanted a soft footbed so he could to avoid the break in period of an original footbed Birkenstock.
Based on his request, I ordered the Milano in a soft footbed.
I was fairly certain that he would not like having to buckle/unbuckle the third strap of the Milano. I thought he might prefer the Arizona model better because he could easily slip his foot into the sandal. However, I needed to start where my dad was at in terms of his level of readiness.
Ordering the Milano’s was a starting point for my dad. He was simply taking the Milano’s for a “test drive.” He was getting a feel for how a pair of Birkenstock’s would handle the road of which he walked. Guess what? Taking the Milano’s for a quick spin around the house demonstrated to my dad that the three strap model was not for him. He complained about having to struggle with buckling/unbuckling the third strap. The Milano’s were immediately returned.
The good news was that he liked how the footbed handled his needs. The shoe was wide enough for his foot and provided him much needed arch support. He asked me to order him a pair of Arizona’s. I was happy to accommodate his request. My dad’s level of readiness to welcome a pair of Birkenstocks into his life had increased greatly since trying on the Milano style. When the Arizona’s arrived, my dad slipped them right on and wore them around the house. Before I left his house that day, I reminded him about the Birkenstock break-in process.
I was fairly certain he was going to keep the shoes. In fact, he wore them around the house for several days. He liked the Arizona’s, they felt comfortable, yet he was concerned about getting them dirty. He did not want to wear the shoes outside of the house. My heart melted, I knew that he was not ready to commit to the break in process of Birkenstocks. He asked me to return them. He wanted a sandal that he would not have to worry about getting dirty or wet. My dad spends a lot of time in his garden and even more time washing his cars. Since my dad could not wear these Birkenstocks attending to his favorite tasks around the house, he felt like he should not keep them.
After all my dad has done to help me over the course of my life, he deserved an authentic pair of Birkenstocks. I knew that my dad still yearned for a pair and I was not going to give up my search. I kept looking at different styles and models. Then one day, the summer Birkenstock styles appeared in stores. I found the Birkenstock Arizona’s in the EVA material. These are waterproof Birkenstocks. They were going to be PERFECT for my dad.
I ordered the Birkenstocks in the EVA material as a gift for Father’s Day. I was so excited when they arrived that I gave them to my dad early. He loved them! These shoes provided all the arch support of regular Birkenstocks, without the break in period, and they were waterproof. Plus, they can easily be cleaned with soap and water. The Birkenstock Arizona EVA are the ideal sandals for my dad to wear while gardening or washing his cars.
Here are some pictures of my dad wearing his Birkenstocks with and without socks.
The aforementioned benefits of the Birkenstock in the EVA material were just what my dad required. I am confident that by wearing his Birkenstocks, my dad’s feet and back issues will start to ease up. My hope is that my dad will like these Birks so much that he will want another pair. His birthday is just around the corner. Perhaps I can upgrade him into a pair Arizona’s with leather straps before another 25 years passes by.
I Love Birkenstocks….and I think my dad loves them too.
Happy Father's Day Dad! I love you.