Danskos Be Trippin'

by Jennifer Ball
Originally Published: 
Jennifer Ball

I love my Dansko clogs. Many of my friends love them. They are immensely popular shoes.

They are the beloved, sensible footwear choice of many—housewives, hipsters, chefs, nurses, teachers, and super famous models/television personalities (Tina Fey and Jennifer Garner are fans, so there ya go).

Are they comfortable? Hells yeah. All kinds of comfy. I remember the first time I stepped into these clompy clouds of love: I felt taller, longer, leaner. I also felt kind of Scandinavian.

Are they affordable? Nah. The average price for a pair of Dansko shoes is $120.00. Back when I had disposable income, I treated myself to a few pairs. I’ve lucked out and found a few cute ones at thrift stores (I actually heard angels singing when I found a pair of patent Professionals at Value Village for $7.99), and I have been on the receiving end of generous hand-me-downs from my friends. The thing is, they wear like iron, and if you take care of them (which basically means avoid fire and teething puppies) they will last for years.

Are they sexy? Anything but. My ex-husband used to refer to them as “those big black shoe things you wear.” I think they are the modern-day equivalent of little Dutch boy-type wooden clogs. The opposite of strappy and slinky, these clodhoppers let you clunk through parking lots, grocery store aisles, and school hallways with stomping confidence. You want hooves? You got ’em.

Think of Danskos as the Volvo station wagon of the shoe world. Boxy and utilitarian, yes. However, they are well-made and their owners are usually smart, practical people who know that quality costs a bit more. Plus, Dansko and Volvo both end with the letter O.

But, there’s a secret about Danskos. A secret that you won’t find on their website, a secret the salespeople you buy them from won’t tell you:

Danskos want to hurt you.

Mine have tried, twice. The first time was so awful and embarrassing that I like to talk about it as often as possible. It was about seven years ago. I was almost divorced and still on friendly terms with my soon-to-be ex-husband. He was out in the driveway, waiting for the kids, when I walked out to chat with him—wearing my Danskos, of course. I cleared the top step of the tiny concrete stairway at the front door, and on the second step, I did what is known in certain circles as “The Dansko Roll.” I fell off my Dansko. The left one. My foot rolled, I heard a crunch, and I fell down the remaining two steps. No worries though! I got up, Mary Katherine Gallagher “Superstar” fashion, and limped over to say hi to the father of my children.

After he left, I surveyed the damage. Already swelling, my left ankle had the mottled appearance of a zombie in the first stages of zombie-plague, kind of purple. It hurt something fierce, but here’s the deal: I had a date that night.

A date with a guy I referred to as Curiously Cheap George who bore an uncanny resemblance to Mr. Big but was an embarrassingly bad tipper. I wasn’t about to let a painful, puffy ankle stop me from going. So I stuffed my sausage/appendage into cute black boots and walked as little as possible as we were entertained by an AC/DC cover band that evening. I think I cried a little when George kissed me goodnight, which he most likely attributed to my overwhelming lady-feelings but in reality was because I was dreading unzipping my boot and releasing the swollen monstrosity that was my injured ankle.

And yet, I continued to wear my Danskos.

Over the years, I had many close calls—several near-rolls, an untold number of trips and stumbles. One of my best friends broke her ankle while wearing Danskos, and several more friends have collected twisted ankles and bruised feet along with their own Passive Aggressive Dansko horror stories.

And yet, we continue to wear Danskos.

This past weekend, I was in Rage Cleaning Mode. That’s where I clean the house while muttering about my lazy kids and about how I am sending the worst roommates ever out into the universe.

So I was bitching and muttering as I took two big bags of recycling outside, down some snowy steps, in my Danskos (the lovely ones in the first picture above). I was mid-mutter when boom, roll. My left foot slid, unnaturally, to the side and yours truly slid, naturally, to the bottom of the steps. I got up, winced my way to the recycling bin and limped back inside to see how bad this roll had been.

I iced it immediately, finally finding a use for the bag of Trader Joe’s edamame beans that had been languishing in the freezer. I did a fine job of convincing myself that “Meh, it’s not so bad.” I consulted with a couple doctor friends, and also decided that nothing says “time for a martini” like a sore foot.

But I’m at that age—that certain age where you can no longer jump up and “walk it off.” As the day wore on, I knew I’d done something to my foot, something that all the frozen edamame, elevation and vodka in the world couldn’t fix.

The next morning, my friend Danielle dragged me to the local hot sport for orthopedic injuries (after I shaved my flowing ankle hair and used a cheese grater on my heels, because winter in Minnesota). After several x-rays and having my bruised but smooth appendage handled by a handsome doctor, this is what I wore home:

Jennifer Ball

I was telling a co-worker all about the events of the weekend. She cast a glance at my unwieldy stormtrooper/RoboCop foot and remarked, “So I suppose you won’t be wearing Danskos anymore?”

“Um, yeah,” I replied. “I’m totally going to be wearing them again.” She walked away, chuckling, the clomps of her well-worn Danskos echoing softly in the hallway.

Hobble me once, shame on you, Dansko. Hobble me twice? Shame on me.

At least I’ll be comfortable until the next tumble.

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