Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A thong aint no flip flop!

I walk, feet bare to the sun, dust clinging to my cracked scaly heels. Thong clad feet, rubber soles, click clacking, gripping, rarely tripping. A thin buffer between foot and street, rugged path, bitumen, stones, wet grass and concrete. Feet protected from bubble gum and smokers phlegm, sputum, piss and dog shit on city streets. Course earth in the scrub. Still sensing, not immune thorns may protrude right through if you’re slack, softly feathered... low impact... treading lightly. 
I used to always go barefoot... (Except for during work hours or when riding a motorbike). I admit I thought that thongs were ugly and clumsy. However after moving to the tropics and discovering all the nasty things that can enter the blood stream through those cracks in my heels I decided it was time to start taking precautions, so I bought a pair of thongs. I discovered the are the perfect footwear for the tropics. Allowing airflow and protection and they don’t hold water.
My old thongs battered and worn; and torn and ripped by the grip of metallic bike peddles. They have lasted a while, walked a few miles and clung devotedly to my dusty feet. Scuffed and ground thin at the heel, lifted lightly by my toes and placed firmly and deliberately along varied paths by a rough combination of sinew and synapse.  A dreamers mind as it sometimes glides but often stumbles through hopes of adventure but dragged back always to the mundane ritual of the daily commute. Always the sureness of the ball of my foot directs the rubber sole, senses never disengaged.
I walk in thongs not ‘flip flops’ like some staggering surfer! Not shuffling like a Chinese student attending ablutions dragging her dainty heels, incapable of bounding forward silently. More like the Lombok porter who carried my gear to the top of a mountain... sure footed and strong! I watched that guy glide up a mountain with food for three days! 4 eggs in a plastic bag not a crack! He wore only a singlet, shorts and a pair of thongs, slept that way through the freezing night then carried our gear back down! His thong strap snapped and he kicked it to the side of the track and continued on barefoot until another appeared on the path and he stepped straight into it without breaking his pace! Like it was a second skin! That’s how to travel in thongs!
 These old thongs have become attuned to my step. A decent thong is not just a combination of good materials or manufacture, actually a thong by definition rarely even possesses either of these qualities. A thong is usually constructed of the cheapest least reliable materials not sure where or how maybe a machine just spits them out. A good thong is a matter of fine tuning the senses and curing the substance. The thong and it’s wearer must meld to each other… bend and be changed until a symbiosis is established. To walk in thongs is more like walking in bare feet you have to read the ground, perceive the path before you lay your foot upon it. Know where the glass or prickles are that will easily pass through the flimsy foam surface supporting you.  It is possible that the thongs durability is refined by the amount of compression it endures before you expose it to really rough or sharp surfaces.
A good thong is sturdy enough for the average bush track and will carry me across scorching concrete or bitumen but becomes imperceptible to the senses in most other ways. Allows me to feel the surface I am walking on but dulls the harsher aspects.
Sometimes I scuff the heels of my thongs when I drag my feet… Sometimes my step is lazy and I bend the toe when I’m weary and don’t bother to raise the foot…  Sometimes a thong can trip me when I’m lazy... Don’t wear them when you’re driving and don’t walk across wet tiles.
The old thongs fit to me like a skin, my feet and the rubber sliding perfectly from one step to the next. Rising and falling as one… gripping any surface. Delicately balanced each step, every turn, the toe grips in sync with the ball of my foot, heel catches the rubber as they glide gracefully to the ground in union and the next step rises to find it’s place along the path.
My old thongs would stay sure. They rest neatly on the smooth peddles of my bike, they have been firmed by walking and resist the friction that causes a new thong to rip...  But they need a smooth peddle. No thong seems to last on hard peddles. And so I have destroyed my old pair of thongs and replaced them with a new pair which I have to break in…
New thongs are stiff but tear easily.

I ripped my latest pair on the rough peddles of my bike. Even worse caught my foot and pulled the toe strap from the base... Cheep Crap! Disaster! I only had them a week and aren’t about to go out and spend another $4 for another pair so I had a chat with a mate who lives rough on the street and he gave me a solution. The strap can be prevented from passing through the base of the thong by widening the surface of the base plug (technical term I made up!). We discussed various means of securing it but by far the simplest and most effective was the humble bread bag clip... You know that bit of brittle plastic that holds the bag your bread comes in closed! I tried it and it fit perfectly! (Oh and a bit of gaffa tape) Back to the cottage craft of grass roots cobbling! 3 cheers for the long grass cobblers! 

Shoe repair when you got no dough!

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