A Flip-Flop Manifesto from a Terribly Wrong and Dangerous Person

A Flip-Flop Manifesto from a Terribly Wrong and Dangerous Person

by Matthew J.X. Malady


People drop things on the Internet and run all the time. So we have to ask. In this edition, writer and editor Elon Green tells us more about the depths of his love for flip-flops.

I feel like I’m finally home. pic.twitter.com/rIwVSiiQgN

— Elon Green (@elongreen) March 16, 2015

Elon! So what happened here?

So: I love flip-flops. I’m not ashamed. To the detriment of my feet, probably, I wear them as often as I can, well into the winter months. I know they can kill me, but in life you pick your battles. They’re like walking on a cloud, and any chill I might suffer is more than offset by the phalangeal freedom.

I’m not promiscuous. I won’t wear just any brand — only Rainbows. (I credit my college roommate Matt, who turned me on to them years ago. He said, correctly, they were the greatest footwear on earth.) They’re not for everyone. Even if you’re used to them, your feet will probably bleed a bit during the first week as you break ’em in. But after that, you’re home free and it’s glorious.

I should note: I frequently take flak for my love of flip-flops. The media establishment has been particularly disdainful — inducements to burn them, attacks on my masculinity, sarcasm, even solidarity with my enemies. But I don’t hold a grudge. People criticize what they don’t understand, and in my heart I know I’m ahead of the curve. Real Americans — those of us in flyover states like Brooklyn — wear such things and the future is ours.

Anyway, I was about due for a new pair. I tend to trade up only when I’ve worn golf ball–sized holes in the sole. Which, since I live in New York, and walk around Manhattan a fair amount, is a pretty gross thing to acknowledge. So I figured, while I was in Sarasota, I ought to scout out fine establishments that sell Rainbows.

OK, flip-flop manifesto time. Have at it.

My fondness for flip-flops is nicely summed up by Dana Stevens, Slate’s eminent film critic. A couple of years ago, Dana wrote the case against them. From her summation:

Because of the ease with which they’re put on and removed — along, perhaps, with their generic ubiquity — flip-flops connote a sort of half-dressed slatternliness, a sense that the wearer has forgotten to do anything at all with his or her body from the ankles down.

To which I say: Yes. Yes! Correct! I mean, I always thought that was the point? If I want to make an effort, I’ll clean my socks and put on a pair of Mephistos! Ease of use is, perhaps, the greatest selling point of the flip-flop.

Not everyone agrees. I had hoped to make my case with a slew of celebrity endorsements, across literature, business, cinema, and the like, but famous people are apparently careful not to be photographed in — or quoted on the record in support of — flip-flops. High profile exceptions are George Clooney and Bill Belichick. That’s a wash.

Better, perhaps, as a favor to those of you who may be persuadable — who are willing to change your mind; to exchange one position for another — here’s a checklist of do’s and don’ts:

• Funeral — don’t
• Job interview — do (this will weed out intolerant employers)
• NYC subway — do (except the L)
• Fancy restaurant — do (unless specifically stipulated)
• Office — don’t (unless you work for Hulu; this is the compromise you make when you stop freelancing)

Lesson learned (if any)?

I can’t imagine what that might be.

Just one more thing.

There are few heroes in the annals of flip-flops — history, after all, is written by the haters. But certainly, when our Hall of Fame is built, the four ladies in the front row — courageous members of the Northwestern University women’s lacrosse team — will get in on the first ballot.


Photo by Drew Stephens

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