During my grandson's enforced absence from Outer Life, I was going to needle him by reprinting on the 'blog a few choice photographs from the years his parents tried to potty train him. But then I remembered something even more embarrassing.
You'd be wrong.
Last week I spotted my grandson wearing mandals. Before he could take them off, throw them in the incinerator and prepare a story denying the whole thing ("you know gramps -- at his age he's always seeing things"), I snapped this damning photograph:
I apologize for subjecting you to this graphic and disturbing image. Please curb your revulsion, adopt a more clinical attitude and carefully observe the skinny white hairy leg, the bony ankle, the veiny foot, the misshapen big toe nail. Not a pretty picture. As one leading mandal commentator observed, "The only guy who ever looked good in sandals was Jesus."
My grandson is certainly no Jesus. So what was he thinking?
He claims it's due to the tyranny of men's summer fashion -- short pants are inexorably elongating into long pants, having reached below the knee caps this year and sure to get to the ankles in a few more years. This dropping of the cloth exposes less and less leg, and leaves men with fewer footwear choices.
A persistent foot odor problem handed down by his mother's side of the family requires my grandson to wear socks with shoes. Problem is, no socks work with long-shorts, so he can't wear shoes with long-shorts. Normal man socks would cover most of the remaining leg area below his long-shorts and subject him to possible harassment as a Latino gangbanger. My grandson retains a shred of his manhood, so he can't wear those ankle-high women's socks you see on some men these days -- you know, the kind that are shoe-high and used to have cute little fuzzy balls hanging off the backs.
He acknowledges that flip-flops are a less objectionable alternative to mandals, but he rightly points out that flip-flops don't really work for serious walking.
I've offered him some items from my summer closet -- my three-piece blue-striped seersucker suit with straw boater and white bucks saw me through many trips to the seaside when I was young -- but for some reason he refuses.
So what can we do about this scourge of mandals?
I remember back in the day, when one of those health fads had us all trying to quit smoking, we were shown color slides of lungs blackened with cigarette tar. The idea was to imprint these disgusting pictures in our minds so that, the next time we dragged on a filterless Camel, we could only think of our lungs growing blacker by the puff. It didn't do much for me, but a few of my weaker colleagues were so stricken by the imagery they switched to filtered Winstons.
The point is, maybe graphic and disturbing mandal images like the one above can serve a useful purpose. If only a few mandal wearers, seeing the visual carnage their footwear unleashes, think twice before pushing those velcro straps down and blithely strolling out into an already troubled world, the time I've devoted to this 'blog won't have been in vein.
(Dictated but not read)