Saw an ad in the paper the other day for a pair of flip-flops — several pairs actually. Price tag: $59 a pair. Oh sure, they had a couple of doo-dads on them. Still, $59?

As I write this, my feet are snuggled inside a pair of rubber flip-flops that set me back $5. That’s high by my standards. Still, they’ve been with me for two years now, with nary a blowout.

Blowouts don’t happen much with many of the flip-flops sold today, which feature a fabric toe grip tucked firmly inside the rubber sole, rather than a rubberized ending sticking through an opening on the bottom.

They still sell plenty of the latter, too, including some that will set you back 30 bucks or so on the Internet. Maybe they come with a no-blowout guarantee.

When I was a kid, our summer shoes were the bottoms of our feet, hardened like caliche by the time school days arrived and we were once again forced to encase our feet in Buster Browns. Maybe that’s why I now run around much of the year in flip-flops. Let my toes go free!

I don’t remember when thongs, as we used to call them, first flip-flopped into our awareness. It might have been with an aunt who lived in Guam in the late 1950s with her husband, who was stationed there at Andersen Air Force Base. Every year, they’d fly into Tucson for a few days, she sporting a tan, T-shirt, shorts and those strange rubber sandals .

About that same time, we started noticing them in downtown dime stores, selling for around 29 cents a pair, soles thin as pancakes and easy to indent. Before long, you had a customized pair, with your toes easily slipping into each rubberized dip and hollow. Nobody could claim your flip-flops but you.

According to Wikipedia, flip-flops have been around as early as the ancient Egyptians in 4,000 B.C. No word on whether Moses borrowed a pair when he crossed the Red Sea, but you can’t deny that flip-flops make for great waterproof wear.

It was after World War II when soldiers returning from the Pacific brought back from Japan what were called zoris. And for a time, zoris were what we called them as well. As for “thongs,” I think we gave that title up when it became associated with women’s scanty panties.

Flip-flops it became, largely because of the sound rubber makes slapping against flesh. My husband hates that sound. Studies have found flip-flops guilty of all sorts of foot woes and injuries. And yes, it’s happened to me while doing yard work, when I should have been wearing something sturdier.

Still, flip-flops are here to stay, especially in Tucson, where they’re worn year-round, sometimes even in dressy situations. Perhaps that explains the plethora of pedicure shops that have popped up in the last couple of decades. 

No doubt the toenails of  the members of the 2005 Northwestern University’s national champion women’s lacrosse team were freshly painted – at least the ones of those who wore flip-flops to the White House, for which they were roundly criticized.

Flash forward six years to President Obama photographed wearing flip-flops  while on vacation in Hawaii. Still, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if the Leader of the Free World didn’t do the same thing from time to time around the First Family’s quarters .

Bonnie Henry’s column runs every other Sunday. Contact her at