Mike’s flip-flops, size 11, died Tuesday, June 18, 2013.
Dad’s flip-flops, as they were affectionately called, were born in a Columbia shoe factory and entered the world of Bass Pro Shops near Macon, Ga., presumably travelling there by semi truck or UPS alongside a plethora of other flip-flops. They were selected from a hook on a display stand and brought to their home in Albany, Ga., where they lived for three, maybe four, years.
Dad’s flip-flops were known for their dark brown leather uppers and manmade soles, and were often touted as “the most comfortable shoes ever.” They were best known, however, for the excessively loud flopping noise they made that could be heard throughout the entire house and often startled the dog while he was sleeping. It was often said of them while they were alive, “Gee, could those flip-flops get any louder?”
Dad’s flip-flops spent much of their time by the side of the bed, putting their best feet forward in the evenings after work, on the weekend, and in the middle of the night for a glass of water, to check the locks on the doors, and the occasional trip to the bathroom. They especially enjoyed trips to the beach, the pool, working in the yard, and watching Braves games.
Though they lived, for the most part, a productive life, the pair often walked the fine line of being a fashion do or a fashion don’t. They were worn with jeans, with cargo shorts, with khakis, and a brief encounter with a pair of seersucker slacks. In their darkest days, however, they were seen on feet strangled in socks, the toes gasping for air. In their defense, it was winter and very cold, but they never quite recovered from the recoiling looks of disgust on the family’s faces.
Throughout their lifetime in Albany, the pair faced and rose above hardship. One flip-flop narrowly escaped tragedy when it was trapped under the bed for nearly a week and in a heroic rescue was set free by a carefully executed swoop of a broom handle. In another turn of events, one was rescued from the jaws of the dog, and only flip-flops’ closest confidantes knew of the scars it bore as a result. Still, one of the most difficult things Dad’s flip-flops had to overcome was the constant pressure — sometimes bullying — from the family, repeatedly hearing the words, “You cannot go out of the house wearing those.”
Two things the pair regretted never having accomplished were gaining the love and respect of Dad’s teenage daughter, and living to see the day that Dad would get a professional pedicure.
Sadly, he still has not.
Dad’s flip-flops began their decline about a month before their death, slowly losing traction. When the strap going between the big toe and the second toe of the right shoe began to loosen drastically, the family knew it was only a matter of time. Mixed with both elation and faked sadness, both mother and teenage daughter respectfully said “Awww, man, we’re so sorry” when, on a warm summer evening in June during a Braves game, Dad lifted up his foot from where hung a limp flip-flop and broke the news that it had finally happened. The toe strap had popped.
It is believed the left shoe died shortly after witnessing the tragic end of its partner.
Dad’s flip-flops are survived by black and red Nikes, Cole Haan dress shoes, Rockports, and a host of work boots that need cleaning and deodorizing.
In lieu of burial, Dad’s flip-flops have been given to the dog to chew on.
Rest in peace, Dad’s flip-flops. It will be awfully quiet around here without you.
Contact columnist Mandy Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.