It's flip-flop season.
But isn't it always?
I mean, do flip-flops ever hibernate for the winter? Not really; not even here in Michigan. I see them all year 'round. I think people just pine for warm weather and flip-flops make them feel better mentally. As long as they're in their toasty family rooms, they can pretend they're on a tropical island in the middle of a winter storm warning.
Flip-flops, with their ugly rubber toe-thingy and flat foamy sole, have been around for a long time, but for the past few years, they've been a fashion staple, it seems. Before, you used to see them only at the beach or the pool. No one would be caught dead wearing them anywhere else. That would just be...ew.
Now, they're flapping up and down at the mall, school, nice restaurants, Target, airplanes, church...even the White House. There's nowhere, it seems, where the mighty flip-flop isn't welcome. Getting married? Get a white pair and dress 'em up. Time for Sunday Mass? Slip 'em on and you're good to go.
I have a love/hate relationship with the flimsy flip-flop.
As a copy editor, I'm against them for the hyphen.
As a mom, I'm against them because when little children play in them outside instead of sturdy tennis shoes, accidents are bound to happen. I am sure the folks who make Band-Aids have seen a rise in sales ever since parents started to allow their children to wear them to the playgrounds, parks and backyards of America. Bike riding in flip-flops? Running on the cement in flip-flops? Bad ideas. Someone's going to crash and burn. Hello, scraped-up toes, elbows, knees, and faces.
After all, Jimmy Buffett blew out his flip-flop...and we all know what happened after that. After stepping on a pop top, he cut his heel and he had to cruise on back home. I am sure his day was ruined. Accidents happen to the best of us.
But there is no doubt that they come in handy when you're heading out to the mailbox, to check on your flowers and pick a tomato, or to hang out on the patio.
Here's the thing: In my opinion, flip-flops are the bottom of the barrel, if you will, of the shoe industry. If you put on a pair of flip-flops to head out somewhere other than the beach, the pool, or the mailbox, you're telling the world, "I give up. I just don't have the energy to care what's on my feet. This is the best I can offer you."
And can I just say that the slap-slap-slap of a flip-flop is really annoying, especially on your way up to the altar to receive the Eucharist in church? There's a lack of respect there, when you don a pair of flip-flops to go to Holy Mass. Surely we can do better than to wear flip-flops to the house of God.
Ah, but the temptation of the flip-flop! At Old Navy, a rainbow of flip-flops awaits you on the back wall. Shoes in every hue of the rainbow, it seems, beckoning you, 2 for $5!
You inch closer, mesmerized by the array of colors. You start rationalizing a large purchase and do the calculating in your head: At this price, you could have shoes to match every outfit in your closet! Neon orange, bright yellow, purple...Then you realize that these are colors that have no business being on your feet, no matter what the shoe is. And that the last time you wore anything bright orange was in the 1980s. (In the interest of full disclosure, I will say that I had a bright orange pair of overalls during that dicey decade. Ahem. Now stop laughing; it was the style, remember?)
Ah, but is the flip-flop really a shoe? Or is it just one step above going around barefoot? I do think our feet deserve better. Ask any podiatrist: There is no arch support in a flat flip-flop. (Say that five times fast).
A few weeks ago, I started experiencing heel pain. My podiatrist told me that walking barefoot around the house was now out of the question. I would have worn my slippers, but they don't have any support, nor can I find any in the stores that do. Or if they do, they are made for the dead of winter in an unheated mountain cabin in Alberta.
One day, I ran across a pair of nicely cushioned flip-flops in a department store. I picked one up and was surprised to find that the heel was very cushy. These would make perfect "slippers" to wear around the house until my heels got better.
I was devastated, but foot pain makes you desparate.
"I have to buy these ugly things," I said dejectedly to my friend Michele. She smiled.
"You don't like them?"
"Do you?" I asked.
She was too polite to answer.
I looked down at their athletic style, black color, and athletic-shoe logo on the top.
"No, they're hideous. I'll never wear them in public," I vowed.
Oh, but they are comfortable. For around the house, mind you. And the pool. And to water the roses and geraniums.
Oh flip-flop, I love and hate you at the same time!