For those who don’t know, “chanclas” are house sandals in most Latin American homes, (those are my husband’s favorite pair pictured at left.) Most Latinos I’ve met wear them in the house at all times, (quite often with socks, even in the summer.) Suegra still finds my tendency to be barefoot quite abnormal but maybe it’s the difference between growing up with a dirt floor as she did, and wall-to-wall carpet as I did – that’s the most logical reason I can come up with for chancla cultures versus non-chancla cultures.
If you already know what “chanclas” are, you may be rubbing your nalgas which are stinging with memories, because you know that chanclas are quite versatile. Here are some of their many uses.
The Many Uses of Chanclas
* disciplinary device – When an Anglo kid see’s their parent reaching for their feet, they might assume their mother or father is simply removing their sandals and nothing more, pero niños Latinos make a run for their bedroom (¡Corre! ¡Corre!) and start apologizing, “I’m sorry! I won’t do it again!”
* fly swatter – I hear it multiple times per week in the summertime: “There’s a fly in the house! Get a chancla!” … Maybe my husband and kids are weird, but they go fly hunting. They wait until it goes into a bedroom and then the commotion starts, “She’s in your room! Close the door! Quick!” (For some reason my husband always refers to flies as “she”. I guess because the word for fly, “mosca”, is feminine.) … Sometimes the hunt can go on for a good 20 minutes. I’ll hear the chancla hit the wall with varying degrees of force. Sometimes the fly’s escape will be blamed on one of the children, (“You were in my way! I almost got it that time! Move!) and finally, the much awaited killing occurs with much celebration.
* hammer – Not for real home improvement jobs, pero, it’s good for a quick fix when a baseboard is loose.
* weapon/home security – Hear a noise downstairs in the middle of the night? Carry your chancla high in the air as you walk into the darkness, ready to sandal slap a ladrón. (This will only work against softer criminals, perhaps a Latino who has been traumatized by the chancla as a child and knows its power. For more hardcore criminals we have a baseball bat and machete as back up.)
* cobweb remover – Gets those hard to reach spots on the ceiling.
* door stopper – Not advised if you have a dog that likes to escape.
* foot covering – But only when it’s not being used for something else, of course.