Tis that time of year again. The ‘flip-flop’ time of year. This is an annual happenstance called benevolent weather that makes me very content.
When I was younger they were called ‘thongs’. But then a certain dainty and delicate dental-floss kind of undies gained a vogue amongst young girls and older women who should have known better unless they were fetishistically enamored of wedgies, and co-opted the thong name.
So, the simplicity-itself Asian-inspired footwear became more widely known by the mildly onomatopoeic term ‘flip-flops’.
I love ‘em and have loved them since I first discovered them as a kid. I wore them throughout the summer in my teens, mainly because I was genetically programmed to live forever on a Hawaiian beach, despite my actual residence on the west coast of Canada.
In days gone by, shortly after I began driving I would be chastised by my old man who would bellow as I was departing for some vehicular destination: “You can’t drive your car in those goddamn things,” he would say, pointing at my feet. “It’s dangerous and it’s illegal.”
“Who says it’s illegal?”
“It just is. Put proper shoes on!”
Actually, I went for years believing it was illegal and my persistence in wearing flip-flops behind the wheel was my little bit of raising the finger to ‘the man’, but in a not too confrontational manner. Then, as I found out later, it wasn’t illegal at all, so my gestures of defiance had been needless.
Anyway, I think flip-flops are wonders. I have a number of pairs, with my favourites being a pair I bought at Wal-Mart in Lihue, Kauai. Rather than just plain rubber soles, they have loofah soles. They breathe, but the sand passes out of them – often all over the condo carpet. I have had them for about 10 years and they still show no major signs of wear and maybe they’ll do for this year, too. Maybe they’ll do for the rest of my life. I’d like that.
There are two reasons I love me my flip-flops. The first reason is that they are simplicity itself. No irksome laces, no sweaty socks, you just slip them on and there you are – shod.
The second reason I love them is because I don’t ‘do’ shoes well. I mean, I like shoes (I won’t even get into my adoration of ladies’ shoes — no, not on me, on them) but I too have many pairs of good-looking shoes and boots (and no, I definitely won’t get into my excruciating adoration of ladies in boots). I also have tons of socks. But, I still don’t do shoes well. Especially in leisure hours. My feet are wide and somewhat dysfunctional. I’m a Pisces, it goes with my astrological turf. I get ingrown toenails, and my feet sweat and sports and games putz as I might be, athlete’s foot has been no stranger to me.
At home I have a nice (and amazingly ancient) pair of sheepskin slippers to go into the garage with, or out to feed the fish. Otherwise, I never wear shoes in the house, but am always barefoot. And then, when seasonal clemency again visits these shores each year, as I hope it always will, out come the flip-flops for outdoor excursions and they are only doffed for yardwork when I’m cutting the grass.
But now – but now – a member of that ilk that feels it is their God-given duty to rain on everybody’s parade, especially if they suspect somebody out there might be having a good time, tells us that flip-flops are a terribly bad thing and that adolescents who bop about in them are opening themselves to a host of foot woes in middle age.
Well, I live in that (‘late’, OK, you got me) middle-age realm and I am yet to experience those foot-woes – flatfeet and so forth. But, a podiatrist (no surprise there) has offered the warning and wants to see people wean themselves off this evil footwear that has been utilized by Southeast Asians since Buddha was in rompers.
You know, it’s one of those things like coffee that certain ‘experts’ have been desperately attempting to malign for decades, though their caveats never stick. OK, they were right about tobacco and excessive booze consumption, but excessive flip-flop wearing will not go out of vogue, regardless of warnings. They’re just too damn sensible.
The calluses between my big and second toes bear testament to my affection thereof.