Monday, July 07, 2008

Tiny Toe Thongs

You know how some kids don't live near a pool or the ocean? And those kids, because they don't have access to water, never learn how to swim? And when they grow up, they keep avoiding pool parties and trips to the beach because they don't want anyone to know that they can't swim?
That's how it is with me and flip flops. I don't know how to walk in them.

Yes, by "flip flops", I mean the casual beach footwear championed by surfers and singer James Buffet. It's not something I planned; it was more of a lifestyle choice. I grew up on the mean streets of a coastal Virginia town, a really fat kid with an amazing talent for being a smart ass. This meant I did a lot of running to avoid getting beat up. Flip flops just didn't fit in with my shoot-your-mouth-off-and-run-like-hell-for-home lifestyle.

My feet, too, present compatibility problems with flip flops. They're not normal feet. My size thirteen feet are almost half toes and full of sinewy animal-like veins. People who have seen my feet can actually see evidence that we and apes have descended from a common ancestor.

It's true. I've had actual creationists approach me at the beach, look at my feet and renounce their former beliefs.

"Evolution," they sigh. "I totally get it now. Sorry, God."

Flip flops, unfortunately, are not really built to handle feet with finger-long toes. So,for these reasons and others, I've tried to hide my flip flop problems. I've worn regulars shoes and socks to the beach, embraced the Teva gladiator-like sandals and have generally done everything I can to avoid the tiny toe thongs of flip flops.

But the other day I found them - a tan aerodynamic pair of Dexters with blue accents and a soft rubbery foot bed that cradled my humongous feet. For the first time in my life, I felt like I was ready to try flip flops. I haven't been beat up in years after all and I've grown tired of buying Maximus-style sandals to hide my ape-like feet. I pointed the flip flops out to Bridget and she gently urged me to buy them. She even offered to help me learn to walk in them.

I wore them out to the car and Bridget, though she promised not to, laughed at me.

"You're walking like a girl who just got her first pair of high heels."

She paused. "No, I take that back. You're walking like a geisha who's just learning to walk on those Japanese wooden platform shoes."

Bridget's flip flop lessons were not as constructive as I first hoped.

Still, her taunts may have had an unexpected effect. I'm trying harder to master this footwear because of the harassment. One day I will casually walk in these casual shoes, with not too much flip and just enough flop. I will saunter in these laid back shoes and strike a blow for the flip flop-impaired and the people with huge, grotesque feet.

And the non-swimmers. I won't forget them either.

BTW: Writing this blog reminded me of the great band Guadalcanal Diary and one of their albums, "Flip Flop". So I spent most of my time writing this listening to the song "Always Saturday". The MP3 is not available on Amazon or Itunes, so I ended up watching it on YouTube. It's great song and a great video. Check it out if you can.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Martian Ice

School is out - which means that we've got to enroll our kids in some kind of camp quickly or we'll actually have to spend more time with with them. And none of the kids wants that.

Luckily, there's a different kind of summer camp for almost every kind of kid and we've been able to match our three kids to activities that suit their personalities. Riley, our four year-old girl, plies to dance classes every day in a pink leotard and matching shoes. Julian, who loves and excels at sports of all stripes, is slamming homers at baseball camp. And what about Gabriel - our pale eight year-old who dislikes sports and loves studying Uranus?

He's going to baseball camp with Julian.

Yeah, I know. But in our defense, it's not as easy to find an Uranus summer camp as you might think. It is, however, amazingly fun to call around to recreational centers and ask about one. Ultimately, it was just easier for us to send Gabriel to baseball camp and pretend that we're doing it so that he'll sample new things.

Gabriel is taking it like the champion nerd trooper he is. Every day he marches out to the outfield in his shorts and untied sneakers and stands there while baseballs rain down and other more competitive kids in actual, professional-looking uniforms yell at him to hustle.

But I don't think Gabriel is concentrating on his hustle.

Bridget and I picked the boys up from camp the other day. I tossed out the usual question.

"So, did you like baseball camp?"

"Yeah!" they answered. Gabriel's enthusiasm surprised me. "So, what was your favorite part about baseball camp?" I asked.

Julian chimed in first. "I like hitting the ball!"

"What about you, Gabriel?" I asked. He got a huge smile on his face.

"The dirt on the infield reminds me of the surface of the Mars!"

He's not wrong. Infield dirt totally looks like Martian surface.

I think Bridget is a little disappointed that Gabriel is not into baseball. Me? I like having two kids running around on the baseball diamond. One of them spends his time blasting home runs out the park. The other feigns playing baseball while he surreptitiously searches for Martian ice just below the surface.