Saturday, February 23, 2013

We used to call 'em thongs.

Flip Flops -- No can wear

    The evolution of the shoe is a fascinating subject… to about a half dozen people. Today, I find myself among ‘em.

You can trace my allure for foot coverings as far back as yesterday. It was right after Brad and I exited a restaurant in the Market Street area of The Woodlands. As we discussed what we didn’t get the wives for Valentines, I noticed a shop that sold predominantly flip-flops. I think it was called The Flip Flop Shop.

As Brad walked past, I stopped to study the different varieties of flip-flops in the window display. Realizing that we had taken my car, Brad walked back to the shop window and said, “I can’t wear those things.”

That was so weird, ‘cause that’s just what I was thinking. I was thinking that Brad can’t wear— I mean that I can’t wear flip-flops. Actually I can, but I hate to. Not only do I find it uncomfortable walking with an object between my toes, I don’t like my shoe flipping and flopping as I walk.

We used to call ‘em “thongs.” you know. We don’t call ‘em that anymore ‘cause it creates a mental picture that burns. “Can I help you, sir?” – “Yes, I’m looking for something in a black thong.”

No, “flip-flop” is a good name for ‘em. “Hard-to-walks” would also be good. “Shuffle-shoes” another appropriate name. That’s the only way I can wear flip-flops or sandals. I have to shuffle my feet.

Some of you are not old enough to remember Tim Conway on “The Carol Burnett Show.” Occasionally, Conway would mimic an old person by walking in a short shuffle. It was funny, for the first 10 seconds. Unfortunately, that’s the only way I can wear thongs—uh, flip-flops. I have to shuffle. Do you know what happens to you after the foot-shuffling stage of your life? They put you in the ground.

I thought Kay was aware of my disdain for things that make me shuffle. Listen to this. Kay urged me to buy a pair of Crocs for yard work. Crocs are those heavy plastic, wide-toed, weird-looking shoes with holes.

So, I bought a pair at Academy. I chose the camouflage design, so the neighbors wouldn’t notice. And, I got a pair with a strap across the back, so I wouldn’t be flipping and flopping in the yard. The next morning I got those buddies out so I could inspect the fiefdom, and low-and-behold Kay had removed the straps. She said that it would make it possible to put the shoes on without bending over.

Any shoe that you can put on without bending over is not a shoe. It’s merely a loose footpad. I don’t pine the loss of my Crocs. I feel sure that shoes that come with holes in the top will collect dew of a morning. I don’t like to start the day with wet socks. Perhaps I’m asking too much out of life.

Speaking of houseshoes, those things have been a wonderment since their invention back in 1894. My research is peccable. When they were first invented, houseshoes were called “slippers.” I’ve made it fairly clear that I don’t like shoes that  you slip-on. That’s why I buy “houseshoes.”

Brad says that “houseshoes” is the effeminate name for “slippers.” He is so enlightened. Regardless what they’re called, they have a half-life of about two months. That’s because they stretch like crazy.

Until recently I’ve always purchased houseshoes that actually fit. After a couple of months they become enlarged to the point that I have to shuffle to keep them on.

If you scratched this thing, you’ll uncover a conspiracy that can be traced to China. It was in 1984 that the stretchable shoe-sole was discovered by accident in a Shinyang sweatshop. Americans have been shuffling ever since. 

I’ve managed to circumvent the Chinese ploy by purchasing houseshoes that don’t fit. I wear about a 10, but purchased a size eight last month. The shoes are just now beginning to fit. Obviously, as soon as this article is distributed abroad, the Chinese shoe industry will be brought to its knees. Next target? Mislabeling “Medium” shirts as “XL.”

    Well, our time’s up and I never really got much into the history of the shoe. Cavemen first called them uglops. Roughly translated it means “Mastodon ear.” I’ll have to save the rest of the story for another time. Let me tell you, it’s fascinating.


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