Growing up during the fifties and early sixties I was present at the dawning of a new dress code in America. Prior to the all out assault on America’s dress code by the hippie culture of the sixties, people were expected to wear clothes appropriate for the occasion. Men and women wore suits and dresses to church, funerals and weddings. Most white collar work places, were just that, they required a white dress shirt and tie. School children were required to be clean and neat; slacks and a shirt for the boys, skirt and blouse for the girls and hair for all was to be clean and combed in a suitable style. All that is a thing of the past and I have pretty much adjusted to today‘s trend toward casual dress. Pretty much but not completely. I still wear a coat and tie to a job interview, a practice that at times can be awkward and disconcerting. For instance I had an interview with a local grocery chain a few years ago. Not wanting to overdress I decided to wear a sport coat and tie instead of my best suit. When I arrived for the interview I was ushered into an office where a young lady introduced herself as the director of human resources for the company. I was quickly taken aback by her appearance. She was wearing jeans and a shirt that looked like they had been ironed with a warm rock. Her hair was a mess and worst of all she was wearing flip-flops. I HATE FLIP-FLOPS! As soon as I saw the appearance of this sorry excuse for a director of human resources I knew I didn’t stand a chance of even being hired for the exalted position of cart boy.

Now I fully realize that business casual is the new dress-up attire. And I must admit that the dress code of the fifties could be a bit stifling . For instance showing up for the first day of high school in jeans, sneakers and t-shirt with a pack of Lucky Strikes rolled up in my sleeve earned me a trip to detention. Four years later during my senior year that attire with the exception of the Lucky Strikes was accepted attire. But no one – absolutely no one would be caught out in public wearing flip-flops. The only place flip-flops were acceptable was in the shower after gym or football practice. To put it bluntly flip-flops are really shower shoes; cheap, inexpensive and ugly! The hippie culture of the sixties exposed the youth of America to these scions of slovenly dress and they have slowly come to be accepted attire for all occasions, and I do mean all occasions. I recently attended a wedding where against my inclination to wear a suit I decided to wear business casual; a nice pair of black dress slacks that just broke a crease over my newly shined wingtips and an expensive golf shirt. It was a good thing I dressed like that because as I took my seat I noticed that the only men wearing a coat and tie were the groom and the best man. The other groomsmen who were wearing a dress shirt and tie but no jacket.

After the groom and his cohorts took their place the music started and all eyes turned to the rear. As the bridesmaids started down the aisle in their obligatory one use only, and thankfully so bridesmaid dresses I thought I heard a dissonance in the somewhat solemn music. At first I couldn’t figure out what was causing what seemed to be an out of place rhythm, a nerve end irritating out of place syncopation. DA DA – FLAP! DA DA – FLAP! I became more and more curious as to what was disrupting the music‘s intended rhythm . As the first bridesmaid reached the aisle where I was sitting I looked down and immediately the mystery was solved. THE BRIDAL PARTY WAS WEARING FLIP-FLOPS! This abomination of anatomical attire had invaded one of society’s most solemn and sacrosanct rites of passage. It was all I could do to keep  from shouting out my feelings about the wearing of shower shoes at a wedding. Now I grant you these flip-flops were rather fancy, brightly colored and adorned with brightly colored beads. And they most likely were quite expensive, but still they were the lowest common denominator of the podiatry pyramid. When the bride made her entrance, she also had these abominations adorning her feet but fortunately as she slowly made her way down the aisle her flap – flap – flap was barely audible. The ceremony was nice and I was genuinely happy for the bride and groom. As the minister pronounced them husband and wife, they kissed and were presented to the audience as officially married. On signal the director of music (DJ) played a very nice quick tempo trumpet concerto  and the bridal party began its exit. This time the music was accompanied by a chorus of harshly staccatoed FLAPITY-FLAP! FLAPITY-FLAPITY FLAP! The bridal party couldn’t make its exit fast enough for me.

While flip-flops now seem to be accepted attire in schools, business, and in society’s most sacred rituals I know that I must capitulate and come to terms with their existence. However there is one occasion where I feel they are totally unacceptable – that is at funerals. In the past few weeks I have attended the funerals of two close friends. At the calling hours for both I noticed several women wearing flip-flops. It wasn’t just young women and teenagers who wore these abominations. They were also worn by several women of age exposing for all to see their gnarly, calloused feet, bunions and all. I want one and all to know that if you wear flip-flops to my funeral I will do my best to haunt you for the rest of your life. If my spirit is standing aside my coffin or if it hasn’t yet left my body and I hear the cacophony rubber meeting heel, I will do my best to rise from the dead and beat you severely about the head with your flip-flops.

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