(note: if you read a version of this blog that was chock-full of typos, screw-ups and such, especially in the sidebar, please dump it and try this version instead. Thanks,)
They go by many names: flip-flops, zoris, go-aheads, thongs*, etc. But whenever I step into a publicly shared shower, they’re ‘shower shoes’. I was first introduced to the concept when I was in the Navy. One thing they didn’t need onboard ship was a bunch of sailors sharing some sort of foot-rot. So it was drummed into us that you never take a shower in bare feet. It made so much sense that I have not been able to use a shower that is shared by people I don’t know without wearing them since.
Frankly, I’m amazed that this habit seems to be shared by almost no one. Here at the marina, the shower stalls are separated from a small changing area by a shower curtain and the changing area is separated from the main room by another shower curtain. The curtain ends about 12″ from the floor so it’s not like I’m peeping when I see bare feet in direct contact with the floor. The changing rooms are also equipped with two coat hooks, a fold-down stool and a wide towel bar. So, why would anyone just dump their clothes on the floor? Am I just being queasy or is there something decidedly icky about putting your clothes or feet into the bacteria-laden stew that is likely to be found on any public shower floor? I don’t even like the fact that my pant legs have to briefly brush the floor as I put my pants back on after my shower.
So, maybe I’m being overly picky but, after 59 years on the planet, including 4 years in the Navy and lots and lots of public showers, I have yet to contract any kind of funky foot fungus. On second thought, I did get the occasional case of athlete’s foot in high school where we showered communally every day after gym class. And guess what? We showered barefoot.
*sidebar: The kids think it’s really funny when I refer to this type of footwear as “thongs”. Tee hee. But I guess I deserve it since I used to think it was really funny when the old ladies on my paper route saved “rubbers” for me. Of course what they were saving were the rubber bands that I wrapped around their newspapers. But anyway, back to the footwear. We mostly called them thongs. They cost about $0.99, were always made of rubber, and only rubber, and lasted almost a whole summer (never an entire summer). At the beginning of the summer they caused sores between your first two toes until you got used to them. They usually had small mud puddles on the footpad caused by sweaty feet and walking in dirt. Just when you needed them most, like when you were running for the ice cream truck or something, they would invariably blow out on you. A blowout consisted of the between-toe strap breaking just above the knob that anchored it to the sole. Once that happened, they were junk. Well, truth be told, they were junk from the beginning. But they served the purpose. Cheap summer footwear. Next best thing to being barefoot. Amazes me now to see how extensively they’re worn ( not to mention how much they can cost!). I marvel at the young girls bundled up against the cold except for their bare feet clad only in “flip flops”. Alternately they wear shorts and a tank top with a pair of Uggs. WTF?
And speaking of the name “flip flops”, as I said before, we usually called them “thongs”. Sometimes just “sandals”, rarely “zoris” and I only occasionally heard them called “go-aheads”. But “flip-flops”? Please! I don’t think we ever called them that. Sounds way too much like baby talk. Glass of wa-wa anyone?