Guest writer Phil Ford comes to us with dire warnings of a great scourge plaguing our sadly divided nation: flip-flops.
There is an antagonism we are experiencing in our great nation that has had many suspects in the lineup: race, religion, socio-economics - - but the truth is far simpler. I have found the lynchpin of America’s divisiveness.
An almost caustic sound, especially when dragged across an apartment complex parking lot. The steady puffy plastic drag across smooth asphalt has all the charm of scraping a fork across teeth. The coup de grace is the familiar, accented punctuation of the inevitable popping sound of the plastic heel smacking the flesh heel in a high five. We are, of course, talking about the American flip-flop.
Sure, the thong sandal has been around for thousands of years, and can be quite comfortable while poolside enjoying a whiskey sour. There has been a great abuse over the last number of years, though, and flip-flops have now become the Donald Trump tweet of footwear in the United States. Frankly, it’s embarrassing.
On any visit to the upscale mall where a P.F. Chang’s or Brazilian Steakhouse resides, one notices that this phenomenon of foam rubber has become quite the trend with the lack-of-tread-setter. People will wear flip-flops with anything. Punk dudes with a face full of piercings, sleeve tattoos, offensive t-shirts, and tight-crotched jeans wear them. Beautiful twenty-something women in fully Gapped fashion-wear don dainty little flip-flops with gaudy pink plastic flowers on the strap. And I swear there is a tween scene sporting oversized platform shoe versions called “Kiss-Flops” that keep such rail-thin children from blowing over in strong winds.
I have witnessed studs in Abercrombie and Fitch, Fight Club glasses, and hundred-dollar buzz cuts dragging their feet through food courts in Nike streamlined glider-flops. No matter where you go, the odds are about two in four that you are going to be seeing gnarly toes exposed to the elements and restrained via the flip-flop.
As much money as we Americans are willing to spend on war, Mar-a-Lago golf weekends, and looking good, one could certainly expect us to put a little investment into a nice pair of shoes. It is almost as if people started from the top, applied all sorts of nifty and expensive hair products, worked their way all the way down with the latest trendy apparel, reached the lower calves, and then just gave up. This is a mistake. Feet are the equivalent of the 99 percent of us, the average citizen. They keep us all grounded, and we should respect that.
We have gotten lazy in the foot, and much the same as with our inability to create a meaningful dialogue between our opposing points of view, we seem to accept this. We are quite happy to drag toe around in the archlessness, the lack of contour, the lack of backbone. Why?
People have spent all this time and money to achieve that certain special “look.” Then they have petered out below the ankles. Come on; finish that fashion thought you had. I know you can do it if you just apply yourself. You would think in this fear-driven age, where terrorism or natural disaster could spark at any moment, you would want to have a nice pair of shoes on in case of potential danger. If a levee breaks in your neighborhood, or an active shooter is nearby, where are you going to be? That’s right — up shit-flop creek.
Flip-flops as regular footwear are like true love on Bachelorette reality television, or barbecue Becky phone calls: signs of the decline of Western Civilization. Now, it’s one thing if you are making your way toward a source of water for swimming, or using a public shower at a campground, or even taking trash to the curb. I’m not saying you can’t wear them if you are, say, Jimmy Buffet and you have a matching Cheeseburger in Paradise hula shirt.
But if you are going to be attending anything public that requires walking, there is no excuse for it. Much like Fox News as a reliable news source, it has no merit. You can try and doll it up as much as you like — make them sporty brown with two sets of buckles, like you would even attempt to hike with them. Or decorate the plastic toe straps with butterflies, or cubic zirconium jewels. Regardless, they are still as unattractive and uninspired as Mitch McConnell at a healthcare fair. There is no arch support, certainly no finesse, and absolutely no sex appeal. Flip-flops have all the social dignity of mononucleosis.
It’s fall, for Pete’s sake. And if proper clothing etiquette can demand turning up one’s nose at white after Labor Day, surely there is something to be said in the Hoyle’s Book of Fashion for these unsavory foot disasters. In this age of concern about white teeth, toned bodies, climate change, and clothes, we can’t be bothered to put on a pair of real shoes?
Plus, face it, toes are really fucking ugly.
Look, I don’t want to seem like a curmudgeon. I’m all for expressing yourself and looking like you just stepped off the fashion page. But let’s get something straight right now: flip-flops are not cool. They may be totally nifty at water areas, but when you are wearing them regularly as “your shoe,” then you need five gay men to come in and set you straight, or at least a friend to tell you how wrong you are for wearing them as habitual footwear.
Flip-flops are at the very root of our downfall. In order to have a sustainable society, you need a strong foundation. Otherwise, it’s just empty rhetoric; another dummy with gorgeous hair and teeth, but no stability. I’m just looking out for the best interest of Americans when I say this: take your power of pride and get some sneakers, or at least some loafers. Then we can once again come together as citizens and rally against this common enemy of our feet and our nation.
Now, let’s get cracking on that Crocs issue…
Note: Op-Eds are contributions from guest writers and do not reflect RVA Magazine editorial policy.