28 August 2011

No andes descalza! (Don't walk barefoot!)

Carson Fisk-Vittori, Dirty Feet, 2009, Archival Inkjet Print
I am aware that many children had the primal pleasure of walking around barefoot, especially during the summer. When I was growing up, however, one of the phrases I heard my mother say most frequently was, "No andes descalza!" (Don't walk barefoot!) At home, it was simply the problem of getting our feet dirty. Getting into bed at night or sitting at the kitchen table with dirty feet was improper. But walking around barefoot in a hotel (even the nicest one) or at the pool meant inviting who knows what unwanted germs - esos microbios tan asquerosos.

As a child, my mother always made us wear pantuflas ("slippers" for you non-Spanish speakers - and yes, it's more fun to say pantuflas than it is to say slippers). I had a series of various furry and fuzzy pantuflas, and although they were on the warm and cozy side, it didn't matter too much in Los Angeles where even the hottest day would cool down in the evening. I wanted nothing to do with plastic shoes - I thought they were ugly, and they made my feet hurt and stink.

Fuzzy slippers can get downright gross.
In high school during the early 1990s, I caught that craze for Birkenstocks. After much begging, my parents finally bought me a pair of brown classic, suede Birks, which I work proudly around the college prep campus when I was a boarder at The Webb Schools. In college, I learned to be a bit more mindful of my parents' money, so I settled for a knock-off pair called Betulas, purchased from the Price Club (now Costco). Going to university in Pittsburgh, sandals were rarely worn without a pair of wool socks. Most of the time, it was freezing cold, so I wore ultra-warm pantuflas.

When I finally moved out on my own to Austin, Texas, in 1998, I discovered that the town was full of flip-flop loving people. But I would never wear these dreaded chanclas, with a piece of plastic wedged in between my toes to keep them in place. It was too hot for pantuflas (besides, they collect so much dust and hair!), and my Birks and Betulas were completely worn out, so for the first time, I had the guilty delight of walking around barefoot.

Purple camo pattern chanclas, about to get retired.
But when you go to the pool and the cement is 150 degrees, or you are walking around in a questionable hotel room, you begin to realize that flip flops are a really good idea. Unfortunately, I always realized this at the last minute, so I'd wind up with $3 cheapo pairs from Walgreens that fell apart after a year. The current pair I own have somehow survived three years. They are faded and cracking, still holding together in their ugly purple camo pattern glory, but they've kept my feet germ free. Still, I can't comfortably wear them out, and they don't give my clumsy feet the support they need.

I've decided it's time for another pair in a color I actually like - and it turns out they are doing a deal of $15 for $30 for Okabashi flip flops through Descuento Libre! Even better, they're eco-friendly and have proper foot support, and they come in all sorts of solid color combinations. With this offer, I can get a pair for Shand. After all, we share a bed, and who wants dirty feet beneath the sheets? My mother was right all along.

My next pair of chanclas will be from Okabashi!

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