I believe in the healing, comforting, and inspiring power of flip-flops. This humble fashion choice, despite its exotic origins, has become the most democratic and American of shoes. Of their comfort and affordability there can be no doubt. The basic plain rubber model now costs less than a gallon of gas. They provide the feeling of shoes without the tyranny of the arch support or the despotism of the heel grip. Their more subtle virtues, though, may not be fully appreciated. They are the very essence of the egalitarian spirit. In their basic form they betray no class or status. They keep a person’s feet gripping solid ground, yet they afford the greatest physical freedom. Flip-flops are the summer dalliance that can become lasting love. They are the indulgence that becomes a comforting routine.
Flip-flops are the trusting and trusted shoe. Everyone can hear you coming and going. Every wearer is like the belled cat in nursery lore. There can be no skulking around, no surprise approaches. Compare, if you will, the ethos of the flip-flopper with that of the sneaker wearer. The very name chills the blood! Flip-floppers are earnest, generous, and open in their entrances and exits. Friends and strangers alike know where they stand. Not so with the heavy boot or shrill stiletto. Their approach, so often echoed in book and film, may mean deliverance or disaster, seduction or strangulation. Think of your greatest fears and be reassured. It is highly unlikely you will be approached by a process server, door to door salesman, or international assassin wearing flip-flops.
Let freedom and individuality flip as well as flop. If Walt Whitman, America’s poet of democracy, were alive today, he would use his great, rolling cadences to sing the body flip-flop. They contain and support multitudes.
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