I wish I could say that I was in a state of exhausted delirium when they first flashed across my phone screen. I wish I could say that as I opened the targeted Facebook ad, I was not not in my right mind.
I wish I could say that when I hit “purchase” and agreed to spend 27.98 American dollars to have a product called “fish flops” sent to my home, I was under duress in some way. Reader, I must confess that I was not. And yes, you read that right. “Fish flops.” Fish. Flops.
Let me explain: Goldfish Flops are one of several novelty shoes available on Coddies.com—a site whose tagline reads “Unusual shoes for people with imagination.” (For those among us who cherish a matching set, you can also buy an adorable two-pack of face masks with a scale pattern on them!)
The fish flops come in several colors including hot pink, green, blue, and silver. They’re surprisingly comfortable; although they lack arch support, I had no problem taking them for a long walk to the park and came home blister-free on first wear.
And it’s not just fish. Coddies’ other “popular” products, according to the site, include Bread Loafers (!!!), shoes in the shape of bananas, and slides designed to look like cut mangoes. Also: cabbage creepers! While I have not purchased any of these items yet, I must admit there’s a non-zero chance that will change before this sweltering summer comes to a close.
In case it’s not obvious already: Yes, I am and always have been an easy mark for novelty products like these. My most cherished T-shirt is just a yellow crop-top with Danny DeVito’s name on it—another purchase made after a targeted Facebook ad, because those guys apparently really have my number. (Oy.)
See also: the fuzzy pink dinosaur onesie hanging in my closet, alongside a growing collection of vintage muumuus inspired by a perhaps ill-advised rewatch of Three’s Company. (Mrs. Roper, with her staggering collection of blinding caftans, is the style icon this quarantined summer deserves.)
My glassware shelf is lined with souvenir boob shot glasses from Miami. On my first trip to New York I distinctly remember my mother poking fun at my enthusiasm for each and every over-priced tchotchke we passed by, saying, “It’s like you have a sign over your head that says: ‘Dupe Me!’”
As the sheer existence of all these products proves, I am far from the only person who loves this shit. Hell, I come from a generation that embraced ironic T-shirts as the must-have high school ensemble for years. But there is something about this surreal year we’re all currently wading through that makes me treasure these items even more.
And although virtually every garment has been subject to some novelty craze or another, shoes do seem to have become the nexus of a certain kind of deranged imagination. As documented in such shows as Netflix’s Baby-Sitter’s Club, it’s not uncommon for bored schoolchildren to doodle on the soles of their favorite sneakers.
The hottest craze in my elementary school during the mid-’90s? Jellies! Then in marched the light-up sneakers. Then Heelys skated onto the scene—and permeated the culture so thoroughly that an adult character on Grey’s Anatomy wore them for years.
Even Nike has made novelty sneakers like these chicken-and-waffle-themed babies that I’m still kicking myself for passing on years later. And as just about anyone who’s ever visited Etsy knows, you can get just about anything painted on a Vans slip-on.
At a time when I have to constantly cover my face, I view the tacky, dead-eyed fish on my feet as a statement piece. I want to let others know that I, too, am losing my mind with bored, impotent desperation.
Society seems to be collapsing around us day by day—so why should I adhere to rigid and boring standards of what footwear should be? Fuck the Fashion Police; I’ve got fish on my feet!
And despite my mother’s steadfast insistence that these shoes are the most hideous thing she’s ever seen, I am pleased to report that I am not alone in this sartorial choice. When I first scrolled through the Coddies website, I was devastated to learn that the pair I wanted—the hot pink ones, obviously—were not in stock. These shoes have, at some point, sold out!
Perhaps it’s because Coddies only produces these fishy foam masterpieces in small batches. Or perhaps it’s because hundreds—do I dare to dream possibly thousands?!—of people had the same dumb idea I did.
Maybe there’s a legion of people out there just like me, swathing their little trotters in these gilled wonders just to feel something. I like to believe we’re recruiting converts every day.
On the afternoon these babies arrived, I was stopped by not one but two gaggles of perplexed and delighted people. The first group made fun of my shoes in Spanish at first, not realizing that I speak the language; I simply turned around and shouted, “They’re PERFECT!”
By the time I walked past the same men a few minutes later, they stopped me to ask where they could order a pair. The second group, admittedly, seemed more confused than anything, which—fair enough!
Still, I can only hope that next time I see these neighbors, they’ll all be wearing Cabbage Creepers and Bread Loafers and Banana Splits. Because I have to say: $27.98 might sound steep for a pair of ugly, fish-shaped novelty shoes—but it’s already the most joy per dollar I’ve found in my life. And right now, that’s priceless.