We were heading out the door: Literally, my hand was on the knob, turning, as Emma rounded the corner of our hallway, reached the edge of the welcome mat, and thrust forward in dismay. Her flip-flop had failed her, the toe thong (that part that threads between the big and pointer toes) and the thong plug (not an official name, but for our purposes, what we’ll use to call the little end bit that keeps the toe thong laced through the bottom of a flop)—anyway, the thong plug had dislodged itself from the toe thong. What Jimmy Buffet eloquently calls: Blowing out a flip-flop.
That’s not exactly where this blog started, but it’s what has spurred these thoughts that follow. You see, this isn’t the first time something like this, some shoe-and-Emma related mishap, has happened. As I watched her standing at our stove, attempting to bring the toe thong to a melt so that she could refuse it to the plug, we recounted the incident in Turkey when she stood up at our favorite bar and both of her flip-flops had managed to deteriorate into un-wearable as we were playing backgammon, essentially leaving her barefoot in Istanbul for our walk home. Even a local shopkeeper fussed at her for the obvious safety offense.
Shoes have always been an issue for Emma. Not in the way they are for others, not in that stereotypical girl-who-loves-to-shop manner, but rather she—to put it mildly—is a lady of a rather frugal nature, willing to wear things until they literally can’t be taped, sewn, or glued, possibly molecularly fused, together anymore. The bottom of her current closet holds a pair of boots with soles that have partially unattached from the tops, but not so much as to prevent her from wearing them in the snow, and canvas sneakers with multiple holes in each shoe…
And now these flip-flops. When the fusing didn’t work (I suspected it might not), I disappeared to jot a note that tomorrow I’d be blogging about this. While I scribbled, a contented yell came from the kitchen. She had wrapped the toe thong in bright blue electrical tape, reattached the thong plug, and as I peeked around the doorjamb into the kitchen, she was demonstrating how strong the repair was. So, rather than putting on one of her other should-be decommissioned pairs of junkyard footwear, she’d be going out to wander the streets of Moscow in the busted flip-flops. I told her to bring the tape in case it happened again.
The second shoe issue with Emma is that, while she isn’t a particularly difficult person to please, she also has rather staunch, unwavering beliefs: She wants plain flip-flops. Sometimes, plain black—no labels, no small blue flower or orange stripe, no hint of glitter or bows, not produced by any known sweatshop brand—sometimes, plain black isn’t so easy to find. However, she accepts no substitutes, quick to bust out a Sharpie for cosmetic touch-ups or tape her old pair back together again and again until we can locate those plain black apparitions she craves. She likes to remind me that she’s not asking for much.
So, yesterday, her plain black flip-flop, a streak of electrical blue crawling up the left toe thong, lasted until about a quarter-past five in the evening when, on our walk home, the tape gave way, leaving the flip flopped again. Emma hopped to a nearby tree stump, pulled out her repair kit, and put them back together again. As we continued down the path, I told her, Baby, I think you can go ahead and get a new pair, to which she responded: Why? These are fine. All I have to do is tape them. So, it seems as though once a day now, we’ll be in need of a tree stump and a roll of electrical tape, and with that, the journey can continue.