Searching for Bigfoot: The Culture of Large Feet at Staples

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Searching for Bigfoot: The Culture of Large Feet at Staples

Graphic by Nate Rosen

Graphic by Nate Rosen

Graphic by Nate Rosen

Ryder Chasin and Danny Cooper

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The lockers at Staples, while taller than most, cannot pass for redwoods. The students here are not indigenous woodland creatures; the faculty members are not scraggly, zealous hikers in search of a theoretical beast commonly deemed a hoax. And the tile hallways, while occasionally strewn with post-lunchtime litter, are certainly not paved with dirt.

All of these signs would lead any layperson to believe Staples High School is not a prime ground for the hunting of the Sasquatch—or Bigfoot, as many to him refer. But some students, like Quint Voris ’14, are inevitably debunking this seemingly specious reputation.

“My shoes that I wear at the moment are 16 EE, but sometimes companies run small and I have to get a 17,” Voris said. “My dad has a size 15 EE, the next biggest in my family.”

In shoe lingo, Es indicate the width of the shoe. The average person will wear a D-width shoe—for a size ten male, that’s about four inches across. However, Voris’ 16 EE is good for a width of over five inches, as wide as two baseballs placed end-to-end.

“Occasionally, I trip over my own feet and stumble a little bit,” Voris said. “It’s kind of embarrassing because I assume everybody just sort of thinks I’m a klutz.”

And this plague of obtrusive feet is spreading into an epidemic among the majority of Staples’ big-footed students. Todd Goldstein ’14 says his size 14 shoes have made him the victim of more than a few brutal foot-to-foot encounters.

“I’ve lost toenails, no joke,” Goldstein said. “You can look at my feet, I barely have any.”

Mrinal Kumar ’14 agrees with Goldstein, saying his feet—albeit a smaller size 13—are, too, subject to periodic toe damage.

“People back up and step on my foot, typically the top of the foot,” Kumar said. “This not only leads to unwanted injury, but also significant scuffing which I simply cannot afford.”

Darryle Wiggins ’14, a fellow size 13, relates with Kumar, saying scuffing is a rather irksome nuisance.

“I wash them with a toothbrush sometimes,” Wiggins said. “When they’re scuffed at the top, people look at my feet, and it makes me feel uncomfortable.”

However, according to Henri Rizack ’14, his size 15 mammoths are usually the instigators of the foot-stepping brigade.

“It’s probably a coordination issue, since I’m off-weight in the feet department, but I definitely step on other people’s feet all the time,” Rizack said.

Rizack adds that there are more disadvantages than the everyday obstacles.

“I can’t fit in flippers or water-skis; my feet are too wide,” Rizack said. “I can wakeboard and I can swim, but I will never water-ski or swim with flippers.”

Kumar cites his own addition to the atypical drawbacks, saying he has been known to “accidentally interfere with anthills while walking through the park.”

However, regardless of inconvenience, the most mutually accepted hardship that these contemporary Bigfoots have to face is actually finding where to purchase such large shoes—Goldstein says it takes him “six to seven business days” to locate a reasonable pair.

Rizack says he resorts to online outlets, although, according to him, even on some of the most mainstream sites, they won’t carry any appealing varieties in fitting sizes. Voris, however, finds his shoes the very way that troubles Rizack: online.

“I purchase my shoes from Zappos.com,” Voris said. “I think they go all the way up to like size 21.”

However, while Voris may be able to locate fitting sizes, the actual appeal of the shoes—as Rizack said—are lacking. Nick Ward ’14, a size 14, tries to shop in stores as opposed to online to buy his shoes, but, just like Rizack, the selection of attractive styles remain few and far between.

“They never have my size, and when they do, they only have, like, two kinds,” Ward said. “They go into the back and bring out orthopedic nurses’ shoes or Sketchers’ shape-ups in all white.”

This lack of variety and availability evokes worry in size 13 John Wisniewski ’14, who says his size is the largest that stores will typically carry.

“Anything above 13 becomes a huge hassle,” Wisniewski said. “I’m really concerned. I really hope I don’t have to go farther to find larger shoes.”

And Kumar, another size 13, feels he is in the same boat.

“I had these fuzzy socks to keep my feet warm, but they no longer fit. When I went to the store to find replacements, they didn’t have any in my size,” Kumar said. “I’m worried about thefuture.”

Jimmy Ray Stagg ’16, however, a size 10 and self-acclaimed student of “average” shoe size, says people with big feet have a future waiting for them whether they like it or not.

“They don’t have a choice. They’re going to grow up to be clowns,” Stagg said. “I don’t like clowns.”

However, Jansen van Arsdale ’14, a size 14, has “never once thought of becoming a clown,” and, among all the others who tend to focus on the setbacks, van Arsdale accentuates the positives.

“I don’t have small feet, so I wouldn’t know the difference,” van Arsdale said. “I guess I can cover more ground.”

Van Arsdale added that he is not even remotely affected by the large-shoe-drought in stores around Westport.

“When they didn’t have my size, I asked three different stores to ship the sizes in as a special order,” van Arsdale said. “They all did.”

Van Arsdale also adds that his feet are only stepped on “once every new moon,” making him, according to the others, a rare case.

Noa Wind ’15 also draws on a positive aspect of her size 11 feet.

“I’m kind of a fast swimmer so maybe that’s why—but who knows?” Wind said. “I’ve been playfully made fun of because of my feet for a while, but I don’t really care. Actually, I think it’s funny.”

Overall, most of these student Sasquatches say they try to take the same approach as Wind—with a sense of good humor.

“Having large feet is a blessing in disguise,” Kumar said. “They give me a confidence and stability that inspires me to travel to greater heights.”

Voris also looks at a bright spot in his shoe-escapades.

“Shoes cost the same as they do for everyone else,” Voris said. “It’s a steal because I get like twice as much shoe.”

And Goldstein, with a smile, made a final, fleeting request.

“If anyone has any 14s lying around,” he said, “I would seriously love some.


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