So, there I was at work, just a working away, when a lady walked down the aisle. Now, that is not unusual. Lots of people walk down the aisles, but this lady had on a t-shirt that said something about flip flops on it. I don't remember what; it isn't important. What is important is that it triggered a memory, and thus, you get today's throwback Thursday post topic. Flip flops.
I have never been able to wear flip flops. I can't keep them on my feet. When I was 15ish, my family took our vacation on the beach. We rented a cabin on the Bolivar Peninsula, as was our custom. That year, my best friend Cathy Duhon went with us. One afternoon, my dad, Cathy, my siblings and I decided to walk down to the little store there and get some ice cream. Off we went, Cathy and I wearing our flip flops. I kept falling out of mine. Every few steps, I'd walk out of them, so I'd take them off and walk barefoot until the black topped road grew unbearably hot.
South Texas in August. I'll let you figure that one out.
Then I'd put the flip flops back on until I fell out of them again. Off they'd come, until the black top grew unbearably hot...and so it went, all the way to that little store and back.
I eventually gave up trying to wear them. Until Navy boot camp, that is. Running barefoot was not an option, not even in the shower. Want to know what we wore on our feet when taking a shower? You guessed it, flip flops. We called them shower shoes, but they were flip flops.
This is my friend Lucia. I called her Perm, because that was a shortened version of her last name. I met her in Electronics Technician "A" school, in Orlando, Florida. She was quite a character, and wore mismatched socks long before it became a thing.
And apparently carried around cans of shaving cream, though I have no idea why.
Perm loved wearing shower shoes. In fact, that's all she wore when not in uniform. I can remember her going out on the weekends wearing a nice dress and shower shoes. The above picture was taken at Great Lakes Naval Training Center, in Great Lakes, Illinois, in winter. That's the only reason she's not wearing shower shoes. Because it was like, minus 900 degrees or something like that.
But I'm getting ahead of my story. Let's go back to Florida.
One Friday evening, a friend and I decided we'd walk down to the mall that was a half mile or so outside the gate of that base there. When she found out we were going, Perm gave me some money and asked me to buy her some new shower shoes. I said I would, but by the time the other friend (I don't even remember who he was) got to the mall, all the stores were closed. We ate at Ruby Tuesday and walked back to the base.
The next morning, I had barracks duty. I went down to the room where we mustered -- that is where we met, for all you non Navy types -- to wait for my duty assignment for the day. Perm came in asked me what color shower shoes I'd bought her. I told her we didn't get to the mall in time and all the stores were closed, so I didn't get her any.
She said, "But you said last night that you did."
"No, I didn't," was my reply.
"Yes, you did." she said.
"I must have been talking in my sleep, because I don't remember any of that." I said.
She told me that when she had gotten in from wherever she was, she said to herself, "I know Gunstream's going to kill me, but I have to find out if she got me some shower shoes." She came to my quad.
Now, let me explain for a moment. In that school, at Naval Training Center Orlando Florida, we lived in open bay barracks -- that's one big room, for all you civilian types. The bay was partitioned off into sections, which we called quads, because each section housed four people. The quads had side walls, but the whole front was open. They weren't very big, smaller than the average living room. Each quad had four racks (beds), four lockers, and four secretaries. That's a writing desk for all you non literary types.
Hah, you thought I was going to say non--Navy types, didn't you?
Back to my story. Perm came into my quad and woke me up. She asked me if I'd gotten her any shower shoes, and I told her I had. Then, get this, I started to get up and get them for her. She stopped me and said, "You don't have to get them now. In the morning will be fine."
Now, remember, I hadn't made it to the mall in time, so hadn't gotten her any shower shoes. I said to her, "I wish you had let me get up. I want to see what I would have given you."
I think about Perm from time to time, and the Shower Shoe incident. Nearly 30 years later, I still wonder, what would I have given her?
It sure wouldn't have been shower shoes. That's all I know.