How are you? No really! How are you? I would love to know how you are faring in these challenging times in your corner of planet earth. I hope that you are doing well. I look out the window and fully expect to see Rick Grimes strolling on a horse ready to lead us into a brave new world. But then I stop myself from a spiral of negative thinking and attempt to find ways to cheer myself up.
I can’t help but think how something that has started half way around the world is now affecting my life in dramatic ways. There is no us and them, only fragile humanity struggling to do its best. No bullet can shoot this virus. No race or class has immunity. I hope that we emerge from this with more compassion and understanding towards each other.
But enough with all the philosophical platitudes, here is my effort to add a bit of cheer into my life. I hope it cheers you up as well.
Starting a novel is always hard. Abstract ideas are floating in my head like balloons. I want to write a story about the challenges ambitious women face in their pursuit. And I want to use shoes as a common theme through out the narrative. But that doesn’t make a novel. That is just a bunch of concepts. I need to find the perfect set of characters and plot twists to bring it all to life. And so I have been contemplating the humble flip-fops. If I walk in the main character’s shoes, perhaps I will get to know her better. How would the hero of this novel wear them? There are several possibilities, each associated with a meaning.
I admire the flip-flop for its ability to say “I don’t care”. I made no effort. I couldn’t care any less if I tried. That slapping sound they make while you walk in them is offensive, obscene even adding to the layers of vulgarity. This footwear makes my feet feel both sweaty and exposed at the same time. Some think they are strictly for the beach or leisurely stays at a resort, to those I say you are totally missing their super power to deliver an insult at important junctures in your life. I supposed you could mitigate the nakedness by wearing nail polish and a dainty jingly anklet. Or let all your ten toes hang out in their natural weird twisted shapes. Nature over nurture. Chaos over reason. The ugly face of evolution on full display. Like a biological experiment that has gone bad. There are suitable times to strive and then there are times for giving up. Throwing in the towel. Flip-flops were made for the latter.
Flip-flops make me think of The Dude in the movie The Big Lebowski. In that scene when he is standing in a supermarket with his bath robe drinking unpaid for milk straight out of a carton. That is one way to wear them.
There are other possibilities. One balloon begets another.
To flip-flop is to suddenly change your mind. Calling someone a flip-flopper is a way of calling them morally suspect, as if those who change their minds are in some way being unfaithful to their ideals. This is nonsense, of course. People change their minds all the time, even about very important matters. That is how juries function. That is how society progresses. One flip-flop at a time. I have changed my mind about things large and small. Nothing says I can’t make up my mind like wearing a frilly floral dress with a leather motto jacket. It says I am tough, but not that tough. Actually! I can’t decide.
The balloons are multiplying.
Worn by the poor and the billionaire, flip-flops have many functions. In a pinch you can always slip them off to slap somebody across the face without hurting your own hand. You can always use them to squash an insect that has invaded your humble abode. You can throw them across the room to get a friend’s attention. Or use them to make a loud clapping sound. It’s truly a wonderous and versatile form of footwear.
Wear your flip-flops proudly and wear them often. Since I am the author I can put my protagonist in a business suit and flip-flops to an important meeting just to test if anybody would comment on it. That would be one way to make a statement.
Now the balloons are out of hand.
Finally and predictably I can style them with a beachy dress for a look that says I crave the sun rays.
So how should I style my protagonist in flip-flops in my upcoming novel? Perhaps I am overthinking it. Flips-flops are just flip-flops. I need to reduce the excess of ideas and images into the single gem. Otherwise the whole novel will be about flip-flops and I have other shoes I am eager to place on my heroine’s feet. That is the problem with imagination. Too many options. I need to be ruthless and stick to one idea.