Everyone on Facebook knows the reason why we stay: birthdays. Reminds me of Valentine’s Day in elementary school, when the teacher taped envelopes to the back of our desks and classmates ran around inserting cards. At home, I pondered every one. I still have them, faded and shedding glitter. I pity the person who will have to dispose of my papers when I am dead.
Days ago, I thanked this year’s crop of Facebook well-wishers by posing two questions: Where did you learn to drive? And, were you told never to drive in flip-flops?
I don’t know why I’ve been thinking about learning to drive. And I don’t know why I thought the ban on driving in flip-flops originated in Florida. My Facebook poll suggests otherwise, and reminded me of the ultimate sin — driving barefoot — and the hidden peril of any wooden-soled shoe, with admonishments spanning the spectrum from Dr. Scholl’s to Candie’s.
From a twenty-something friend: “My Driver’s Ed instructor explained to us that flip-flops are from the devil. As is talking on your cell phone, smoking, messing with the radio, goofing off with your friends, and generally thinking you’re hot shit while driving.”
From her elders, variations on two themes: “Learned to drive in Florida and no flip-flops allowed.” Another agreed, “definitely no flip-flops per Driver’s Ed teacher.” Someone elaborated, “I was told flip-flops were dangerous as a snag hazard on the accelerator.”
To that point, consider this bit that reads like flash fiction: “In Ohio, the flip-flop conversation didn’t exist. Until I got in an accident by not seeing a stop sign. I plowed into the intersection. The rubber of my flip-flops got jammed up in the floorboard and I couldn’t smash the brake in time. My father was not happy. Neither was my brother, as it was his wedding day.”
But even more than plastic elastic shoes, driving barefoot was a taboo: “I learned to drive in a beach community in Massachusetts and was told not to drive barefoot. Which, while in California, I did anyway.” And from a high school partner in crime, the recollection of the edict Never drive barefoot! “Not that I recall any of us following those rules,” she added.
In Florida, footwear options boil down to flip-flops, in some configuration, or no shoes at all. Driving barefoot seems the only logical choice.