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One would think it wouldn’t be that hard to find aqua socks in the middle of July, but if you thought that, you would be wrong.

July 19, 2009, 8:29 PM

One would think – July is the middle of the summer. Summer is a time when people spend a lot of time in the water. One would think that one would be able to find water-type shoes in the middle of the summer. But no. I went to seven different stores, and found no aqua socks that fit at a price that I was willing to pay.

The reason, of course, is because of the way retail works. “Spring” starts December 26, and runs to roughly Easter. Then “summer” runs from around Easter to the Fourth of July. Then “fall” goes until around Labor Day or so. Then “winter” runs from Labor Day to Christmas. Thus now, on July 19, the aqua socks are mostly gone, and the stock of sandals is dwindling.

So why am I so worked up about finding a pair of aqua socks? Well, I’m going tubing on the Shenandoah River in Luray next weekend with a bunch of my coworkers, and the Web site for Shenandoah River Outfitters, the company we’re going through for this tube trip, recommends that shoes be worn on the river for safety purposes. Makes perfect sense to me – there could be rough bottom terrain, sharp rocks, or other kinds of hazardous debris, and I don’t want to get hurt on the river. Even more so when you consider that I’m one of the drivers for this outing, and thus my feet will be doing a bit of work beyond the river, and injured feet on the pedals is a Bad Thing.

But yeah, I went all over. I went to Target. I went to a different Target. I went to Payless Shoes. I went to Champs Sporting Goods. I swallowed my pride and went to Wal-Mart. I tried a different Wal-Mart. I also went to REI. And the results were disappointing in all cases. Both Targets had aqua socks for men, but not in my size. I tried a size 12, and I could barely get them on. Thus I couldn’t imagine trying to wear those for any duration of time. Then at both Wal-Marts, they had women’s aqua socks, but none for men. I contemplated trying on a pair of pink aqua socks to see if they fit (you never know), but talked myself out of it because the shoes looked narrow and I have really wide feet, and thus they more than likely wouldn’t fit. But yes, I am secure enough to wear pink shoes if it came down to it. Then Payless and Champs didn’t have any, period. REI actually had shoes designed for the water, and likely could fit me, but I was not about to spend $90 on shoes that I would only use once a year, if that. So that was a wash.

I’m going to do a little more shopping around on Monday or Tuesday after work, but I’m not holding out much hope. It’s looking like I will probably end up wearing my Crocs in the river unless someone can point me to a store in Montgomery County, Maryland that has aqua socks for men in stock in size 12 wide, or size 13, for around $20 or so.

Meanwhile, it looks like next weekend is just going to be a wet one anyway. After going tubing on Saturday with my coworkers, I’m going to Splashdown Waterpark with some other friends on Sunday. That ought to be fun as well. I just hope that with all of this fun in the sun that I don’t end up cooking myself. Remember – sunscreen is your friend. And I have plenty of that in my hall closet.

Otherwise, I finally got to try my hand at playing Doki Doki Panic. For those not familiar with Doki Doki Panic, it’s nearly identical to Super Mario Bros 2, which I’m sure you’re all quite familiar with. Basically, in Japan, the game called “Super Mario Bros 2” was a direct sequel to the original Super Mario Bros game, with similar gameplay, but WAY harder. Nintendo of America thought it was too hard for American audiences, and too similar to the first game, so they redesigned Doki Doki Panic, a game with an Arabian storybook theme, to make it into a Mario game. That’s why it’s so different from the rest – because it was a non-Mario game that was remade into a Mario game. That’s why you’re battling a mouse and dragons as bosses, and a frog as the end boss, rather than Koopas. And with all the changes to the game in making it Mario, it made it just different enough to be really hard.

Let me explain for a moment. I’ve been playing Super Mario Bros 2 for a long time, and can heave those eggs at Birdo like a pro. But in Doki Doki Panic, there’s no running when you hold down the B button. All the B button does is pick stuff up and throw stuff. It’s harder to outrun the enemies that way, and certain moves are harder as well. Then since this isn’t a Mario game, the characters don’t shrink when you get to only one unit of life left. While making the characters shrink in Mario 2 was likely thrown in just to make it more Mario-like, it also serves as an important warning: get hit one more time and you’re dead. I managed to get killed a number of times because I didn’t realize I was on my last life unit, because I wasn’t small.

So yeah, even though the game was very familiar, it was a new challenge with all the little differences.

And if you know where I can get a pair of aqua socks on short notice…

Web site: Comparison of some of the differences between Doki Doki Panic and Super Mario Bros 2

Song: "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)" by Michael Jackson

Quote: Meanwhile, I think I must be crazy in agreeing to drive. But then again, I think I said it - I'm crazy. According to the directions provided by the river place, most of the route involves driving on US 211. I hate US 211, because the road gets very windy as you go through the mountains. But it's nothing I've never been on before, because I took 211 going east back in 2007. Still, this time I'm carrying four other people in the car with me, and so I have to be especially careful going through all those curves...

Categories: Shoes, Shopping, Video games