Guest Shoe Blog Post by Linda Collard @lgcollard

Photo Credit: Nicky Luescher. Copyright. All Rights Reserved.

Flip flopping language

Or how your shoes can make you memorable

Two of my favourite things in the world include the nuance of language and shoes. One stimulates my intellect, the other my aesthetic. This is a story about how these two loves once collided.

Back in ‘nam (just because I like to use that phrase) in 2003, my husband John and I had arrived into Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) mid-morning to stay with friends, Anna and Joe, who had just moved there.  Anna’s father and stepmother were staying too. They were leaving that afternoon, so we had a crossover of a few hours.

Arriving at Anna and Joe’s house, we introduced ourselves to her family members and headed out to explore the city. They are English. I haven’t mentioned that, but it’s an important detail. I am Australian. Also an important detail.

Just a short while into our wander around the city, my thong broke. (You may be able to see where this is going already.)

Unwilling to hop – and equally unwilling to have a bare foot on the dusty and somewhat dubious streets of HCMC – I walked into the closest souvenir shop and bought a new pair of locally-made silk thongs.  (The ones that broke were also Vietnamese from a 2002 trip.)

Sadly, this second pair of thongs lacked the comfort level of the others and I soon developed a painful blister between my toes. The skin was really quite red and angry.

So we headed back to our friends’ house, earlier than anticipated and met up with her father and stepmother again. The conversation went something like this:

Them:  Oh, you’re back early.

Me:       Yes, my thong snapped.

John:    She replaced it but the new one rubbed her raw.

Me:        I couldn’t walk any more.

[DAWNING SENSE OF SOMETHING WRONG AS WE SAW THE LOOKS OF HORROR ON THEIR FACES]

Me: (Blushes)    Oh my God! Flip flops. I mean flip flops… not thongs as you know them.

[Editor’s Note: A ‘thong’ to the English is a ‘g-string’ to an Australian]

The sense of relief in the room was palpable.  And to this day, every time Anna mentions my name to her family they say:

Oh yes, the thong girl.

About Linda Collard:

She managed to elude me for some time, so she did. There were Twitter reports of Linda being in Sydney last year, then reports her being in Hong Kong. Finally, I tracked her down via Twitter to two tables to my right at the Aussie Bloggers Conference. It turned out that she was wearing a truly fabulous pair of knee length leather riding style boots. The kind of boots that work any where and with anything. I wasn’t surprised.  Have a look at Linda’s blog Kid in Lolly Shop and you will realise why http://kidinalollyshop.wordpress.com/. You can follow her on Twitter at @lgcollard.


6 thoughts on “Guest Shoe Blog Post by Linda Collard @lgcollard

  1. Haha I can see why you didn’t want to wait to share! Brilliant story, although flip flops and thongs both sound odd to me, just call them jandals and be done with it!

  2. on flip-flops. This is a valid sentence, though I doubt it has been used very often:
    “when wearing flip-flops, the electronic engineer often flip-flops over which flip-flops to use in his computing circuit”

    Flip-flop:
    Meaning one…an item of casual footwear worn in less enlightened countries. See also thongs as used in more enlightened countries, and jandals in only one place on earth
    Meaning two….to change ones mind, when in the USA
    Meaning three…an electronic digital circuit element used in adding application eg to count how many pairs of casual footwear walk past.

    I’ll use some restraint regarding the use of Thong, including Ita B references (see also Thing)

  3. Nice story 🙂 I had the same situation when i first met MrO’s mum & have to try really hard to remember not to call them thongs – his family (of Kuwaiti origin) call them slippers. Which is confusing because to me slippers are big & furry.

  4. Kristin – yes, our wonderful maid in HK called them slippers too. Perhaps because no one wants to wear big fluffy things in the Philippines before bed time.

    Paul – no restraint required! I enjoyed your take on the thong.

    Kerry – my fave NZ phrase is the ‘judder bar’, perfectly descriptive.

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