It took three deep dives into the 1975 Sears Wish Book before I noticed it…
…but when I finally did, it nearly shorted out my nostalgia cortex.
I am not exaggerating in the least when I tell you that those goofy race car slippers were one of Young Andrew’s most coveted possessions. Forget Tonka trucks or Hot Wheels playsets or injection-molded forts filled plastic army men — those slippers are the first thing I searched for under the tree on Christmas morning.
Why? I have no fucking clue. As a kid, I did tend to gravitate toward shit with numbers on it. Whether it was toy cars or a Huffy starter bike or the dozens of football-style shirts that filled my dresser, the presence of numeric badging guaranteed it would become a favorite of mine. Seeing the WGBH 2 Mobile in the wild after a Bicentennial parade was a bigger event than the birth of Lil Bro a few weeks later, and the large painted numbers marking the levels of the Museum of Science parking garage were more fascinating to me than any of the actual exhibits.
Maybe it was an early sign of a low level spectrum behavior or maybe my impressionable neural pathways were subjected to an excess of Sesame Street and other abstract-experimental edu shorts during their early Seventies salad years. All I know is that I loved those slippers as I have loved no other footwear before or since (with the possible exception of my first pair of tanker boots). When they weren’t getting dragged by my oddly shaped feet across mustard-hued carpeting or patterned linoleum, they were used by my pair of plush seal pals to stage soft toy drag races.
I can still remember exactly what they smelled like (the slippers, not the stuffed seals who had been puked on and imperfectly cleaned during multiple childhood illnesses): An intoxicating blend of vinyl out-gassing and artificial fibers. One managed to survive into my early adolescence by virtue of precipitating to the bottom of the toy chest containing our stuffed menagerie, only to get unceremoniously dumped during the family’s move to Hammond Square.
No slippers have been allowed on my feet since.