Rainbow Sandals

This a story about a pair of flip-flops. A story about how sponge-rubber and strips of leather, glued together at a small shop in San Clemente, came to be a part of me, an extension of my southern most extremities. How they've traveled the world, from Shanghai to Sorrento, Normandy to the North Shore. How they protected my feet when I had to run seven miles through Ricketts Glen looking for a lost co-worker. How they've collected sand, crossed streams, killed flies, climbed mountains and fallen victim to campfires.


This story starts in Seattle, when my father stopped by Cheka-Looka to shoot the proverbial shit with my dear friend, Jeff Abandonato. My father already had a pair of Rainbow Sandals, some black-and-blue rubber jobs that he bought back in the 80's. He had, I assume, no intention of replacing them.

Then he saw these guys - what Rainbow calls the "Premier Leather Sierra Brown Double Layer Arch." Light brown in color, two thick leather straps and a three-layer sole - what more could one ask for in a pair of flip-flops. So he bought a pair, actually, he bought two.

I was fortunate enough to receive the second pair he purchased as a birthday present. I was a bit skeptical at first. Fancy leather flip-flops. They seemed stiff and the pair of Reef sandals I had were holding up just fine. But my father swore, having worn his Rainbows in Thailand for nearly two months, that they would break-in and soon become my favorite form of footwear. He was right. He's always right.

Since donning these sandals sometime in the early 00's, they've traveled to seven countries, a few states and accrued countless miles. They're far from new. The stitching that holds the leather straps together has come undone. The sole has worn through. Where my big toe rests, the leather has worn away leaving my largest lower digit to rest on sponge rubber instead of cowhide. That's character that only leather footwear can acquire.

A few months ago, when I was in Los Angeles for a motorcycle show, my lady friend suggested that I take my sandals to the Rainbow shop in San Clemente. "Perhaps they could fix them," she said. "The stitching has come loose and you've nearly worn through the sole." Fuck that noise. To repair the sole is to remove the soul.

Don't you think it's time to upgrade your flip-flops? You know, the ones with the bottle opener on the bottom ;)

But don't buy them online. Visit your local surf shop. They could use the casheesh.

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