Honolulu Lite
Charles Memminger

White House ‘flip-flop’
flap mystifies us

Dear President Bush, Howzit, brah? Listen, I just wanted you to know that we, here in Hawaii, have been monitoring the so-called "flip-flop" controversy that arose when the national championship Northwestern University women's lacrosse team wore various types of slippers to the White House recently.

Apparently, some people thought it showed a lack of respect to you and the office of the president to wear "flip-flops" to the White House. It wasn't. Now trust me here, we know something about "flip-flops," since we wear them all the time, from funerals to formal affairs.

First off, we know better than to call them "flip-flops." A "flip-flop" is what John Kerry did when he said he was for the Iraq war before he went snowboarding but against the war when he got back from kite-surfing. The article of apparel in question is simply called a "rubber slipper," or, in the island vernacular, "rubbah sleepah." If the slippers come from Japan and contain dried grassy material, they are called "zoris," although some people call any thong-type slipper a zori.

What we are talking about here are well-made, heavy-duty slippers that can cost up to $50 a pair. We aren't talking about those crummy little rubber beach slippers that are worn with white socks by inmates in mental institutions.

I looked at the photo of you posing with the women's lacrosse team, and I could tell that most of them were wearing their good slippers, not the ones with the paint stains that are reserved for wearing in the yard. So, instead of an insult to you, they were actually honoring you by dressing casually. They were saying, "Mr. President, you're a cool, laid-back dude, but if you step on me with those cowboy boots, it's really going to hurt."

I'm sure that when the World Series-winning Boston Red Sox came to the White House, they weren't wearing slippers. That's because they all have terrible cases of athlete's foot, and it wouldn't have been a pretty sight. Plus, they make a lot more money than the women on the lacrosse team.

You also have to remember that lacrosse players in general aren't the most sophisticated people in the world. How can you blame them, playing, as they do, a sport that I believe involves dragging a dead badger up and down a muddy field with a rake? Forget the footwear -- you were lucky they all wore pants.

Considering that the average temperature in Washington this summer has been 145 degrees, I'm surprised everyone at the White House isn't wearing rubber slippers. In fact, if you wanted to score some points with your staff, you'd crack open that fire hydrant out front and let Condi Rice and Don Rumsfeld splash around for a while. You know, it's pretty miserable in Washington when half of Congress is hanging out down at Guantanamo Bay.

You'd do well to trade in your boots for rubber slippers until the first snow. Your little tootsies will thank you for it, all that air and sunshine. And when it comes to pest control, nothing takes care of a cockroach like a rubber slipper. Sure, it's the White House, but I know the occasional cockroach gets in there every once in a while, if you catch my drift. At your next press conference, when one of those reporter cockroaches asks a stupid question, you just smack him upside the head with your rubbah sleepah and say, "Oh, sorry. There was a mosquito."

Charles Memminger, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists' 2004 First Place Award winner for humor writing, appears Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. E-mail cmemminger@starbulletin.com

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