Once I established myself at my new home (and discovered that my flatmates love food just as much as I do–judging by the meals we’ve made so far, this will be a very tasty semester) my parents dropped a care box in the mail. This is not your usual care box: it contained no food, letters of encouragement, or nick-knacks. Instead, it held a very valuable commodity. This commodity is, in fact, the firm foundation upon which 95% of Californian life finds its basis, but which very few outside of the Golden State have come to understand the power of. This beautiful commodity is, like the bindi of the Hindi, while sometimes utilized by outsiders as “cool” accouterments to an outfit, is in fact a very important part of female Californian dress and it is very hard to locate properly made versions of this commodity outside of California.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: The Flipflop.
In California, The Flipflop is central to everyday life: Californians will wear their flipflops in nearly any weather, only switching to normal shoes when the temperature threatens to turn their nailbeds blue. Even those required to wear professional dress will keep a pair hidden under their desk, and will only wear their “dress” shoes when their feet will be in public view and they might be shamed for breaking from the socially set ideas of professional dress. For those who are otherwise free from such standards, The Flipflop is the footwear of choice.
Of course, the rest of the world does not hold the flipflop in high esteem, even going so far as to refer to them entirely as “shower shoes”. As a result, they are not popular, and thus are not sold in stores regularly outside of beach season. Further, I had already experienced problems while trying to find appropriate footwear in Ireland once. Finding flipflops would be next to impossible. Thus, my parents sent me a box filled with one thing: flipflops. Glorious, beautiful, Californian flipflops. Over the next five months, I would come to realize exactly how much flipflops make you stand out.
“Are you really going to climb those rocks?”
“You’re wearing FLIP FLOPS.”
“You poor child, why are you walking around like that?”
“It’s raining out!”
“Yeah?” I mean, it’s Ireland. When is it not raining?
“Aren’t you freezing? Here, let me give you some money for some shoes.”
“Why don’t you have any sensible shoes? Your feet are going to hurt so bad.”
When I was a little kid, adults told me I would catch a cold if I went to bed with wet hair. Apparently outside California, people believe if your toes get rainwater on them, you’ll catch pneumonia. But, fortunately, most of the time, people either kept their opinions to themselves, or ignored my (very cute) toes (one of my big toes has a beauty mark). It is still hilarious to look at group pictures, though, so much so that some of my friends started playing Spot-The-Californian. The rule to finding the Californian is simple: look at their feet. The one without shoes is from California. I’ve since played the game on my own, and it’s a bit unfortunate how accurate this rule is. Someone needs to spread the good news of flipflops to the rest of the world.
Anyway, my parents sent me two pairs of very gorgeous flipflops (I had worn out the pair I brought with me), which allowed me to stop wearing the stupid pair of shoes (this would be the same pair that made my feet bleed on my first day). There was much thankfulness to go around for that little bit of home in a box. One of my DJ friends had also snuck a handful of pens from my favorite resort spa/events place, which he had kindly included, just in case Ireland did not have any good pens. I doubt I could use all of them up in six months, but, you know, “just in case”.
The moral of the story: always overpack on shoes. Always. And Flipflops are King.