Six or seven years ago, the scoundrels I work for sent me out on the street with a notebook, a pen and a bright orange pair of Crocs.

Good luck, they said. You’re going to need it.

Crocs were new on the scene back then, but they were already the source of much derision. People had an irrational hatred of the footwear that transcended mere fashion. Crocs provoked, not just amusement and scorn, but anger and revulsion. It was as though 85 percent of the human population had at one time or another been abused, neglected or emotionally scarred by an ugly, rubberized shoe.

And man, they weren’t going to forget about it any time soon.

The beat-down started immediately.

“Look at the dork with the Fred Flintstone feet!” some fiend shouted, the very moment I stepped into Lewiston’s downtown. “Let’s get him!”

Crocs are great for all kinds of things. You can swim in them, work out in them, garden in them or bike in them. You can slip on a pair and go out drinking or you can stay at home and play hopscotch in the driveway. Whatever.

The one thing you can’t do in Crocs is run, so when the riled-up mob of Croc-frothing hooligans came for me, I had no choice but to stand my ground and take it.

“Let’s toss him in the canal.”

“Let’s beat him with his own stupid shoes!”

“Let’s beat him and THEN throw him in the canal!”

How I managed to stay out of the canal that day is a mystery.

There’s a scene in one of the “Die Hard” movies in which Bruce Willis is sent to a rough part of the city wearing a sandwich board with a loud, racial declaration. It’s tense and unnerving and you fully expect Bruce to end up in a canal.

That’s how I felt when I was sent downtown in my Crocs. I wasn’t actively offending anybody, but for reasons unknown, those goofy shoes caused people to react as though I had spat upon them, kicked their dogs and said mean things about their mothers.

It was a hellish ordeal out there in Crocland and one I was lucky to survive with only my ego in tatters. Once I was back in the office, I tore the damnable shoes off my feet and vowed never to agree to such debasement again. I also vowed revenge on my editors and went promptly into therapy to begin the long road to recovery.

It was that very night that the Crocs began whispering to me from the bottom of the trash can where I had left them. “Come now, Mike,” they cooed. “Weren’t we the most comfortable things you’ve ever worn? Didn’t we keep your feet cool while also protecting you from the many perils of the hard ground? Do you really want to go back to hard soles, sweaty leather and laces? Give us another try, friend. Take us swimming or drinking or tree-climbing.”

I DID give them another try, and do you know what? I haven’t spent a single day without them since. That’s right, wretches! I wear Crocs and I don’t care who knows it! Sometimes I go to the store in them because, come on. Who has time to slip on shoes and tie all those fancy knots when there’s a quick errand to be run? Who wants his feet to swelter all day in tight, confining leather? Who wants to spend 50 bucks for a pair of stupid loafers when he can pick up a pair of Crocs for pocket change?

The original orange Crocs lasted five years. I’ve since retired them, with honors, and picked up three more pairs for my day-to-day needs. Sometimes when I go out in them, mothers scoop up their kids in fright, dogs screech and run away and men occasionally challenge me to duels.

I don’t care, I tell you! I’m Mark L. and I love Crocs!

There, I said it. No reason to get up.

I’ll just toss myself into the canal and save you the effort.

is a Sun Journal staff writer who chooses comfort and expedience over fashion every time. Email him at [email protected]

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