The subject of this essay, if essays are allowed subjects in this postmodern era, is that of footwear. Not a common subject for a man to write about, but one I find particularly pressing after a hard day’s learning at my educationtorium; the delightful, even if completely broke, University of New Mexico.
Flipflops, for those who might be occasioned by lucky ignorance, are a subset of sandal lacking a heel or a way to strap itself to the foot. The only way to secure a flipflop is to grip it tightly between the hallux and the index toe. They get their name from the flip-flop sound they make when their wearer is walking. The sound is maddening. I have no idea how the 20-something ladies with whom flipflops are so popular with stand it. They are some of the trashiest, cheapest footwear one can buy. I have seen some as low as thirty-five cents at Walgreens, a sort of rip-off drug store common out here.
The argument for flipflops begins like so: they’re easy to put on. That is the sole reason I hear from the ladies. “I like them because I can just slip them on.” I find it puzzling that the majority of college girls will spend hours on make-up, hair, clothes, and exaggerated hip movement, but not on shoes. Is there anything more disconcerting than to see a girl with an elaborate weave of blonde highlighted hair, a little black dress covering a curvaceous lascivious figure possessing the calves of a goddess only to find it all ends in bright green flipflops barely holding on to feet blackened by dirt? O lulz, I say. You were only pretending to care about your appearance. I thought you might have been a lady of some sophistication, but I see through your disguise. Go back to playing at being a woman.
Ever notice how ladies with the least amount of make-up, least amount of highlights, and largest amount of brain cells almost never wear flipflops? Must be some sort of dignity thing.
Lest you think this is a misogynistic rant, let me say men who wear flipflops are equally as bad. Or worse. Frat boys, surfers, idiots who think they’re surfers despite living in a desert, lazy bums, and other clichés all wear flipflops.
I saw one gentleman wearing some at a black tie event. His lady friend, to her credit, looked dissatisfied with his footwear, glancing down in huffy disgusted stares he failed to notice. She later left him waiting at the curb. He was still waiting when I left two hours after I saw them leave the dance.
Flipflops are actively dangerous. I hear they’re bad for the feet and posture. They offer no protection from the elements and considering I live in a desert this is a bad trait for shoes to have.
The desert, a high plateau desert, has cactus, sandburs, goatheads, scorpions, datura, rattlesnakes, thorns, biting ants, broken glass, ground wasps, and all other manner of sharp hard-to-remove-once-caught-under-the-nail-of-your-big-toe type things.
And flipflops are impossible to run in. I’ve seen a jock go flat on his face after a short sprint. Not a sport sprint, mind, this was a between classes by the C&J building sprint. A girl came outside and the jock cried, “Rachael!” his whole face lighting up. Never have I seen such a movie perfect scene. She smiled; her eyes on him like he was returning from Iraq rather than a grammar comp. class. They moved toward each other at a jog, arms wide, slow motion engaged, hair and clothing flapping from off camera fans.
He trips, he falls.
She had to carry him to the student health center.
Now imagine this: a strange van picks up a girl. He’s been watching her for weeks. She doesn’t see it coming, grabbed from behind, forced into the vehicle, suffering a bump on the head as she’s jammed through the door. He takes her to the middle of the desert. The city is a distant galaxy of light flush against the darkness of the mountains. Her only chance is to run. But with flipflops all he can do is stumble through the cactus fields as his feet disintegrate to ribbons. Unable to keep his balance, he falls and she escapes. The police arrive while he is still trying to hobble to his van, using the baseball bat he was going to brain her with as a crutch. He won’t give up even though his feet are showing bone through the blood and the police end it right there under a spaghetti western moon. She was, of course, wearing converse.
A lot of things are blamed on the devil, but he probably invented only two things: Postmodern metafiction and flipflops. Hell is a place where your aching feet never rest. Where the flipflops you wore in life have burned onto your skin from the heat (as cheap rubber will do). It is a place where the flipflops offer no release from the coals and fire cactuses that plague the River Styx. And the accursèd sound flip flop flip flop follows you until even John Kerry says,