Many many moons ago, I bought a pair of flip-flop sandals at (no kidding) the grocery store. Yes, it was an impulse buy… no worse than my usual grocery-store impulse buy of a jumbo bag of Cheetos. But I disdain shoes so I was looking for a snappy alternative that would allow me to quickly and easily put them on or take them off, depending on whether I was meeting the President or just going to work.

Anyway, for the grand total of about four bucks I got a pair of sandals that looked remarkably like eighty-dollar Birkenstocks. I wore them for years (and yes, many people commented about my Birks) until finally the soles had been worn to a nub.

Then I bought another pair. This time it was the Super Target, and the price had skyrocketed to $4.49. They weren’t quite as nice, but again I wore them for years until the air-cushion pockmarks in the bottom of the shoes were visible through the worn-away soles.

A third pair entered the scene, this time from Wal-Mart. Inflation continued to rear its ugly head; these were $4.99. And they sucked. A lot. I wore them for a single day and the leather that crossed over the tops of my feet rubbed the skin so raw that I noticed at the end of the day they were actually stained with blood. And my left foot, to this day, has a scar from that day.

So I went back to pair number two– the one in the best shape– and continued wearing them. A little hot glue sufficed to keep the dilapidated soles from completely falling off, and I know Laralee cringed every time I wore them. But darn it, they were comfortable and I was sure not about to rub my feet raw with my new ones.

But all good things must come to an end (twice, in this case) and the pair finally became pretty much unwearable. Laralee told me I should just invest the money in a pair of real Birks, which would probably last a long time. I insisted that a four-dollar pair of shoes is plenty good for me. So this afternoon I performed a little sole surgery. I carefully cut the soles off the new (scar-inducing) sandals using a kitchen knife (I doubt Birks are made of cork and rubber like this, so such a trick wouldn’t have worked).

Then I peeled off the nub of a sole remaining on my original pair of sandals and hot-glued the new soles on the old shoes. Voila, pair number one was resurrected! As comfortable as ever (everyone loves a good old broken-in pair of shoes, right?) and a brand-new set of soles.

I figure I’ve got another two or three years before I have to part with another hard-earned fiver.