In Search of… The Perfect Pair of Flip-Flops

flipflops“Aaaaahhhhh!”, said my feet, as I slipped them into what I had determined was the perfect pair of flip-flops.

You shouldn’t underestimate the power of the perfect pair of flip-flops. Nor should you assume that one’s ability to find such an item can be done with anything resembling alacrity. They don’t just jump off the shelf at the first shoe store, for crying out loud! No. They hide out in the hidden recesses of the fourteenth or (sometimes!) the fortieth store you enter. Like the “little black dress”, a decent pair of flip-flops is integral to any wardrobe. And can be just as elusive.

There are any number of versions of the “little black dress”, so it’s easy to understand why a person can spend her life searching for one. Flip-flops, on the other hand, because they are, by their very nature, a simple configuration of sole and thong, should be a far easier thing to stumble upon. Except that they’re not. At least not for me.

The main reason that I have so much trouble finding ANY flip-flop, let alone the “perfect” flip-flop, is genetic. If you were to look at my feet, you’d probably be surprised to discover that, although they share a hairline, my father is NOT, in fact, Fred Flintstone. Flip-flops are foot-shaped, my feet are, like Fred’s, brick-shaped. They resemble unfinished pieces of sculpture — like the artist, after chiseling out the toes, got bored or, possibly even died, prior to shaving the proper amount of granite off of the sides.

The shape of my feet, or lack thereof, has not been enhanced by a lifetime of working on my them, either. What little arch I started out with in life is now almost nonexistent. This means that while others can wander around in $2.50 Old Navy flip-flops, I require something a little more substantial — something that fools my brain into thinking that my feet have an arch.

I am also afflicted with a chronic case of plantar fasciitis. You can look it up. Suffice it to say, “it sucks”. I very often feel like I’m walking on broken glass. Luckily, my case is milder than most — it only flares up once in a while. Wearing the wrong shoes, though, — like flat, unsupportive flip-flops — is sure to bring it on. Trust me, no one wants that. Because it makes me miserable. And I’m not the type to suffer in silence.

As if I don’t have enough problems, I also have a recurring issue with a couple of corns. They take up residence from time to time between my fourth and my fifth toes. I’ve entertained the notion of obtaining those “toe” shoes to keep this annoyance at bay, but I have it on good authority that NO ONE will be seen with me while I’m wearing these! It’s tempting, though. Some days, choosing between a friendless life of loneliness and despair or not being agitated by corns, seems a no-brainer. What I have discovered is that if my shoes are wide enough, but not TOO wide, at the top, I can keep the corns from growing so large that they actually resemble an extra toe!

Finding a pair of flip-flops that have an arch to combat my flat-footedness, are padded enough to alleviate the plantar fasciitis, and are wide enough to keep the corns from forming is a nearly impossible task, particularly if you also want them to look somewhat stylish. It goes without saying that I want them to be fashionable. Why bother with expensive and time-consuming pedicures if you can’t show off the results by sporting some cute-ass flip-flops?

That I go through this every year is mind-boggling. But, I do. Because flip-flops stretch out over the course of the winter. I don’t know why. I’m sure there’s some perfectly reasonable scientific explanation for this. My theory, less scientific but certainly more plausible, is that Hobbits sneak underneath my bed, raid my flip-flop stash, and wear them on their adventures. Searching for rings and saving Middle Earth requires footwear. Hobbits are the only creatures, outside of cartoon characters, who have uglier feet than I do.

Yesterday, after trying on about one-hundred pairs — ranging in price, might I add, from $14.99 to $55.00 — I finally found a pair that fit all of my criteria AND only cost $24.99! I was really happy with them. Until I got them home and modeled them for Fangette, who immediately asked me why I had purchased “orthopedic” shoes. My first reaction was to argue with her, to tell her that they were not “orthopedic”, that they were “cute”. And then I took a second look at them. That’s when I realized that she was right. They weren’t cute at all. But here’s the thing — they fit and they’re comfortable! So, I’m keeping them. In fact, I may even go back to the store and buy them in another color!

It hasn’t escaped my notice that being satisfied with comfort and fit or the fact that I can no longer be trusted to deem a shoe “cute”, is a sure sign that I’m middle-aged. Cool. I’ve always wanted a pair of Birkenstock’s.

photo credit: flip flops (me)

Focus on Footwear

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Yesterday I did something that I would describe as silly. Others have characterized it differently. In any case, what happened was this: I left the house wearing two different colored flip flops and didn’t notice it for several hours. Neither did the woman with whom I went to the mall and to lunch. Of course she is just as blind as I am. Also, she’s a hillbilly, so she’s not really focused on footwear.

In my defense, one of the flip flops was brown and the other was gray. They looked the same when I fished them out from underneath the couch. Once I slip into a pair of shoes I rarely spend any time looking at my feet, what with my bodacious ta-tas and all. Maybe I should. Anyway, guess who did notice my faux pas? My teenage daughter, that’s who. She was with us, but shopping apart from us, as any self-respecting adolescent should be. She spent a few seconds rolling her eyes and acting exasperated, as any adolescent girl would. And then it dawned on her that we might be seen. By people she knew. By other teenagers. We had to get the hell out of there and fast!

Once we had made it to the safety of the car, having avoided a close call with some familiar looking young people just outside of Nordstrom, my friend and I, now breathless from our mad dash through the mall began to laugh hysterically. And I mean hysterically. Bent over. Holding our stomachs. Tears coming out of our eyes. Legs crossed to avoid peeing ourselves. Hysterical. For some reason, my daughter did not find any of this funny at all. Nope, not in the least, which made the whole thing even funnier to us.

When we had finally composed ourselves enough to drive, I called her lack of a sense of humor into question. She said, “I’m sorry if I don’t find having a scatterbrain for a mother funny!” This gave me pause. A scatterbrain? Suddenly the image of Aunt Clara from “Bewitched” popped into my head, which was a little off-putting, especially because I had always fancied myself more of an “Endora” than a “Clara”. Never a “Sam”. No way. Too much running around trying to please that idiot, “Derwood”, for my liking.

Sure, I’ve been known to have a forgetful moment once in a while, obviously. I put things away, you know, for “safe keeping” and pretty much never see them again unless I somehow manage to stumble cross them accidentally. I frequently make grocery lists, very organized, aisle-by-aisle, grocery lists, complete with coupons clipped to them; and leave them at home where, as my husband likes to helpfully point out, they “won’t do anyone a damn bit of good.” Reading glasses also seem to elude me. Usually after a cursory search, they are easily discovered— atop my head. These are examples of what I would consider “garden-variety” memory lapses. While it’s painful to admit, I suppose that I may be a little flaky, but I’m certainly no scatterbrain!

She then reminded me that last year at Christmastime, while shopping in the very same mall, her father realized that I was wearing two different sneakers. I would like to tell you that they were, like the flip flops, of a similar nature. But that would be lying. No. One was a black Nike running sneaker, the other was a white Skecher.

To this day I have no idea how I managed to do this. But do it I did. I would like to tell you that I left the mall right away upon realizing my mistake. But that would also be lying. My husband, who is easily embarrassed and has no patience for this sort of thing was encouraging me to leave, actually it was more like pleading, but I couldn’t leave. No way. I still had one more store to get to, one more gift to buy. So I reasoned that if I faked a limp that anyone who noticed the two different shoes might assume that I had done it on purpose; that I was wearing two very different shoes due to a malady of some sort, which I decided would be bunion removal surgery. If anyone looked at me strangely, and I was in a situation to explain myself, I would tell them that I was recovering from bunion removal surgery. Really. This was my plan. My husband was skeptical, but he always is. Plus, he has no sense of adventure. I still contend that the plan might’ve worked if it hadn’t been for the damn children. I didn’t take the children into consideration.

Children tend to stare at the handicapped. So do adults, but we do it more surreptitiously. Children, due to their proximity to the ground, are also far more likely to notice people’s feet. In addition, they enjoy pointing and giggling. My master plan was foiled by a few kids whose eyes, having noticed the limp, were drawn to the feet and, ultimately to the shoes. The pointing and giggling that followed was inevitable. Also inevitable? My husband refusing to be seen with me another second.

Abandoned, yet undeterred, I made my way to Best Buy. With my head held high and with as much dignity as a woman knowingly sporting two different athletic shoes can muster, I purchased that Kindle Fire cover for my father and joined my husband at the car where we enjoyed a nice, quiet ride home. My daughter doesn’t come by her lack of a sense of humor from nowhere.

After hearing this story, my friend pointed out that, as I suspected, I am no husband-pleasing Samantha. And while I have my sardonic Endora moments, what I should probably come to terms with is that I may just be Aunt Clara after all. Oh, and I’m not allowed to call her a hillbilly anymore. I’ll try to remember that!

Don’t wear flip-flops in the rain

As a result of my crack organizational skills (or that of others in my household… I’m not pointing any fingers, but you know who you are), my daughter’s birth certificate disappeared. Into thin air, as it were. She needed it for today in order to get her driver’s permit. I only had to work dinner yesterday, so my plan was to gather all of the documentation that she needed to obtain said permit (birth certificate, social security card, paperwork from school certifying that she had passed the written portion of the exam, check for the driving school guy, etc.) and put all of it together, so as to avoid the usual running around, screaming and yelling, etc. that is our standard modus operandi.

Nothing is ever that easy around this joint. The best laid plans and all that. Once I had resigned myself to the fact that I was going to have to get another copy of the birth certificate, I went to get her social security card. Of course it wasn’t where it was supposed to be. Before ripping my house apart and, at this point, my hair out, I asked the daughter if she had her social security card. She shrugged and told me that she thought her father had it. Now I had to call him at work to confirm that he was, indeed, in possession of her card, because if I’ve learned anything about teenagers it’s that they cannot be trusted. It’s not their fault. They have a lot on their little minds. Tumblr, Twitter, dresses, high-waisted shorts, healthy snacks, etc. (this is just my teenager’s list, feel free to personalize it, substitute items more appropriate to your own child).

Anyone familiar with husbands can probably guess how the conversation went. Yes, he had it (I did not even ask him why he took it out of my wallet, where it has been for years). Great. I should have hung up the phone while I was ahead, but he had further questions, like, why had I waited so long to look for these things? Why couldn’t I be more organized? Why do we only have one jar of peanut butter left? When will I ever learn? After 23 years of marriage I would like to think that I have, in fact, learned a thing or two. I patiently explained that I had not begun to “look for these things” this morning; that I was not planning on “looking” for anything, that I was, instead, just gathering them from where they had been the last time I had needed them (and where, I swear to God, I put them back), so as to avoid the lunacy that accompanies almost everything that we do. I also explained that I could be more organized. I could also be “America’s Next Top Model”. Damn those genetics.

The last two questions really say more about him than they say about me. This is how he fights. He always uses whatever issue is at hand as a springboard for whatever else is bothering him (I’m surprised he didn’t bring up what I like to refer to as the “great missing Mets t-shirt controversy of ’99”; he still trots that gem out from time to time). I thanked him for alerting me to the peanut butter shortage and politely pointed out that there are shelves filled with it at the local grocery store. As to the learning thing? Well, I like to believe that I learn something every day. And, while I didn’t say it, I have definitely learned that arguing with him about shit that I can’t change will get me exactly nowhere. And, the reality was that I was happy to know the whereabouts of the social security card. Because the stress of not being able to find the birth certificate had given me a throbbing headache.

Luckily my daughter was born in the next town, so all I had to do was go over to the Health Department (have they stopped calling it Vital Statistics because no one knows what that means?), fill out a form, fork over $15 and be on my merry way. As I get out of the car I realize that I still have, clinging to my jeggings (yes, I left the house in jeggings. And flip-flops. And an old t-shirt. But the t-shirt covered the camel toe. And the flip-flops matched the t-shirt. I made some kind of effort.) the remnants of the dust bunnies that were on the floor of the closet (where I was crawling around looking for the birth certificate, you know, in case somehow it had jumped out of the folder in the fireproof “important documents” box just for a change of scenery). I looked and felt ridiculously stressed out. Oh, and it was raining. Pouring, in fact. And I had no umbrella. At this point I figured things really could not get any worse, so I made a run for the door. I just wanted to get home, take a Tylenol, and do the New York Times crossword before working the night shift. And then, because of my $2.50 Old Navy stupid flip-flops, I wiped out in the parking lot. Just feet from my destination. Into a puddle filled with gravel. While people watched, including my own husband. I’m sure if it hadn’t been pouring rain they would have helped me.

Later I told him that what I learned today was this: Don’t wear flip-flops in the rain.