WEST MARINE, the nation-wide boating-gear store, is advertising “Men’s Performance Flip-Flops” for sailors at $39.99 a pair. I mention this because I fail to see how men’s performance is tied up with flip-flops. I regularly see advertisements on television and in the AARP magazine for drugs (and even vacuum devices) that claim to improve a man’s performance, but never before have I heard that better performance had anything to do with his choice of flip-flops.
The other reason I mention this is because of the price. Gasp. I can remember buying my first pair of flip-flops in Las Palmas, Canary Islands, from an itinerant vendor standing on the harbor wharf. I was, at the time, working my passage to England as a greaser’s peggy, the lowest form of life on a Union-Castle passenger liner. The flops cost me 2/6, or half-a-crown in British money as it was then. That is about 20 cents U.S.
So, if West Marine is now asking 4,000 cents for a pair of flip-flops, it means that the price has risen by 20,000 percent in my lifetime. Twenty-thousand percent. If you don’t find this staggering, you should. It is, without doubt, staggering.
Now, before they were made de rigueur by the French pedi-couturier Phillipe Phillope, we used to call them thongs. These days, however, that word is used for a rather different garment, but perhaps one also intended to improve a man’s performance.
If you really want the very best in flip-flops, you have to go to Africa, where I grew up. They’re made by Zulus from old truck tires. Now there’s performance to boast about. You gain an inch in height to start with. And then you’re the proud owner of all-weather, mega-traction flip-flops, rated for rain, snow, mud, three-inch thorns, multiple green-mamba bites, speeds up to 85 mph on the freeway, and the option of white sidewalls.
Can’t beat that for performance — especially at one-tenth of the West Marine price.
’Tis the same to him who wears a shoe, as if the whole earth were covered with leather.
Boaters’ Rules of Thumb, #201
The ideal yacht tender exists only in dreams. She should be small enough to stow on deck but large enough to carry heavy crew and provisions in a reasonable chop. She should be light to handle but heavy enough to ride the seas. She should be wide for stability but narrow for easy rowing. She should tow well but not swamp in rough seas. All I can say is: good luck.
After they discovered oil in the Congo, the newly rich cannibal chief walked into the restaurant of a swish hotel.
“Good evening, sir,” said the waiter, “would you like to see the menu?”
“No thank you,” said the chief. “Just bring the guest register.”
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