Wednesday, February 13, 2013

My Collection: Flip Flops of an Unknown Brand

I wish I could be more descriptive but these flip flops are so trashed and abused, I can only make out one letter of the brand name that was once printed on the lining.  It begins with an S, so if anyone out there recognizes the style and knows anything, feel free to comment or drop me a line and I'll adjust this post accordingly.

In most cases, I find flip flops as unappealing as Crocs and goth boots.  More often that not, they're just pieces of rubber stamped into the shape of a foot and given a piece of plastic or cloth to make sure they remain in place, albeit barely.  With the exception of footprints which are inevitable because they're almost always worn barefoot, they hardly show any compelling signs of wear, and that's if they're worn long enough to show wear in the first place.  I'm sure most women start each summer with new pairs of flip flops and then toss them in the trash after Labor Day, and some seem to have a different pair for each outfit.

Well, most, but not all.  The woman who wore these flip flops either had them for quite a few summers, or spent just one beating the life out of them until there was practically nothing left to them.  Granted, they look like they cost a bit more than the typical dollar store special, so the fact that there's more to them than a few pieces of rubber and plastic means there's more to illustrate the trashing and abuse.

Flipping the flip flops upside down doesn't show anything unexpected.  The soft, rubbery, almost-spongy material that comprises the outsoles is worn smooth with a few dimples from little pebbles and other debris that got shoved into it, but there's little in the way of drama aside from the area under the big toe on the right one.

The left flip flop suffered the least, although that's still being kind.  The insole seems to have been a cork-like material over a layer of rubber that had some kind of flower-like decoration stamped into it.  Most of the cork is gone, probably having fallen off in little pieces over time.  What's left is cracked, smooth and horribly stained, likely from endless sweating in the heat.  The merciless wearer's little toe was doing a good job of making holes in both, and on this one was about an eighth of an inch from going completely through to the other side.

The area under the heel is compressed so much, the outer edges of the flip flop are curling up around it, and the faux leather strip covering the area where the insole attaches to the outsole is just about gone.  This wear pattern is more severe on the left one, leading me to believe she didn't shove her foot into this one as deep as she did on the right.  Either that, or her left foot was slightly larger than the right.

The front of the right shoe is completely destroyed.  The wearer's big toe caused the faux leather strip to tear apart, and she must have applied so much pressure while walking that the outsole is paper-thin.  Something tells me these flip flops might have been retired because the wearer's big toe was scraping along the ground as she walked since there's barely anything left in that spot.  The rubber material that was once underneath the cork lining is cracking where the strap connects to the insole, making me wonder how much longer it would have taken for the two to separate and render the flip flops useless.

I can't imagine how uncomfortable it became to keep these things in use.  Kudos to the wearer, whoever you are!

Even though shoes are inanimate objects, I often wonder what it's like to be them and put through this kind of suffering.  These flop flops lived through what seemed like an infinite string of days where the wearer recklessly shoved her feet under the thin, delicate straps, trapping them against a layer of sweat to flex relentlessly, the combination of everything breaking them apart from the inside out.  I wouldn't want to be those flip flops but I sure enjoy the aftermath.

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