I had to take the dog out into the heat tonight. Wasn’t going to put socks on and said dog had eaten one of my sandals last week. I asked Dawn for her one pair of not pink flip flops and tossed the dog an ice cube. Dawn dropped the turquoise strapped foam soled flip flops on the dining room floor with a sound like their name plus some thuds on account of the heady heat wave putting on airs. I slipped my toes through the strap and tried to walk. It felt like I was wearing high heels.
”Why are you walking funny?” Dawn asks me, wondering my gait.
“I’ve never worn flip flops before. They hurt.” I said, embarrassed that I’d never had a pair. It was worse than sitting in a ‘66 Camero with a girl with blue eyes and platinum blond hair and not knowing how to drive a stick.
She was shocked but didn’t know if I was joking. During the tenure of our relationship, she has laughed hysterically at some of the bothersome anecdotes of my freight, only to discover that her perceived jest was really a sorrowful tale of survival. She also grieved and cried about some story I told her about breaking my two front teeth on a railroad tie playing tag when I was a kid. I thought it was funny, and then she got mad at me for thinking so.
When we dragged outside, down the stairs and driveway, the dog kept turning and looking at me. I was pressing my toes into the foam of the sole to keep them on, but they kept slipping off. I’d kick them, hear a “flop”, and the dog kept looking at me like I was invading his privacy. He finally took a leak on a Hosta in the yard next door. I knew he had to crap because he was pulling toward the knoll on the corner. I took off the flip flops and considered leaving them on the stoop of our building, but I carried them a few feet and started to think about all the rubbish and broken bottles on our boulevard so I struggled the foam soles back on. I stumbled to the corner before I took them off again and the dog started his trot. I watched the sidewalk for obstructions and winces as we crossed a parking lot back home. Bits of gravel dug into my tender feet. I thought it might make me stronger until I thought about sand.
I used to dig my toes into wet sand all over the world. No matter where I was during low tide, I’d swim out to any ripple in the sunken beach and dig my feet into the sand. Clams and scallops live in these parts, bedded like cold kids on a straw mattress next to a dwindling wood fire. With clams, my heels are my best tool, I feel the ridged rock, then I dip my head in the salty water and dig them up into my folded shirt. With scallops, I drag my toes along the wet sand next to the lapping lips of shore until I hit a bump and then I rake the sand with my fingertips.
I tossed the dog another ice cube when we got inside and opened the door to the air-con bedroom where Dawn was trying to sleep. I told her about being barefoot and not being able to wear the flip flops. I heard the dog shake his tags in the kitchen.
”Tha’ ‘sokay honey,” Dawn said from sleep,
”You just need to learn how to flip.”