RT Cunningham


Flip-flops are usually Inexpensive Sandals of a Specific Type

flip-flops Although Wikipedia says flip-flops are a type of sandal, most of them barely qualify as sandals. I guess it all depends on how much you pay for them, something I’ll clarify shortly.

I’ve worn flip-flops for most of my life, starting in 1974, when my family first moved to Hawaii. I remember an older sister wearing them when I was even younger and I barely remember what they looked like. She called them “thongs”, which isn’t correct.

Wearing Flip-flops to School

My family lived on the island of Kauai in Hawaii for a little over three and half years. I was laughed at on the first day I went to school because I was wearing regular shoes. Most of the “locals” wore flip-flops of one style or another.

Along with other things, it didn’t take long for me to fit in by wearing flip-flops. I didn’t like the thong parts because they always broke, even the more expensive ones. The thong (or toe thong) is the Y-shaped strap that fits between the toes.

Flip-flops as Shower Shoes

I was issued “shower shoes” the first day of basic training. The word “issued” isn’t really appropriate since personal gear was deducted from my pay. They were the cheapest pair of white flip-flops I’ve ever owned. I saw some in one of the stores on base after I graduated from basic training.

A pair of white flip-flops cost less than a dollar in 1979. I can still find the same style for less than $5.00 at almost any Walmart store in the United States. I never see any plain white ones. Perhaps the military snatches all those up when they’re made.

The men shared community showers in boot camp. The shower shoes were supposed to prevent foot problems, like Athlete’s foot fungus, from passing from one man to another.

I Rarely Wear Flip-flops Today

I wear sandals that are kind of like flip-flops, with the material going over the foot. Cathy, a daughter-in-law, bought me a pair of flip-flops in the Philippines that were almost too small. I think I wore them twice.

I buy cheap slippers like the pair I’m wearing right now whenever I can. And that’s usually when I’m in the United States. I can’t seem to find slippers or flip-flops large enough for me when I’m in the Philippines. Well, other than the expensive sports sandals like those sold by Nike. I think they call them “slide sandals”.

I plan to buy several pairs to take back with me to the Philippines (I may ship them with the kitchen items my wife, Josie, is going to send). When people send us balikbayan boxes (not often), they may think of shoes but they won’t think of slippers of any type.

Flip-flops and Other Sandals in the Philippines

The word for sandals in Tagalog, the main Filipino language, is tsinelas. It sounds like the Spanish chinelas. The “ts”, when pronounced correctly, sounds like “ch”.

Filipinos who speak English will call almost everything that slips on like a sandal, a sandal. Even flip-flops, which isn’t actually correct (even when they think it is correct). I call them tsinelas like everyone else (those who don’t speak English well). Even the type I’m wearing.

I’ve heard some people (and I won’t mention names) call them shoes. They’re definitely NOT shoes.

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By RT Cunningham
July 17, 2018

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