Ode to Chanclas

The weather around here has been pretty nice this week.  I’ve made multiple comments on the Facebook pages of my friends in Reno saying how much I do NOT miss the snow.  Except for looking out the window at while I curl up with my wife someplace warm with a Hot Apple Pie cocktail in my hand.  While I admit she and I had some pretty outrageous late night drunken snow angel-making adventures, for the most part I like it much better here in the Central Valley farm country for winter.

I inherited a lovely 40+ year old garden started by the woman who owned the home we rent.  I wish I could have met her and learned exactly how to take care of each and every plant she lovingly placed in my garden haven.  I guess I could call myself The Reluctant Gardener, but I’m really not all that reluctant about it, just uninformed.  I’ve never had the opportunity to grow a dozen rose bushes, lily’s and other bulbs or the other 897 plants (I might be exaggerating but perhaps not, it’s hard to count them all) I’ve become the caretaker of.  I’ve been told by the current owners not to worry about all those plants; that if I want to rip some out or if some happen to die, that it is okay.  Maybe for them, but of course I take it as a personal challenge to keep each of the original owner’s “babies” alive and well.  So far, I’m doing pretty good (pats self on back.)

Chancalas  yellowrose

One of the great things I’ve learned about on my gardening “path” is the beauty of a pair of chanclas.  First I must tell you that I only recently learned this term.  When I first saw a pair I thought they way too boyish for moi, and in fact, the people I knew that wore them were gay guy friends in LA.  When I would visit there, I admired how cute they looked with their socks and chanclas but didn’t really see myself wearing them.  And they always looked really convenient and comfortable; very LA.  I didn’t know they had a name, I since I have a penchant for making up terminology, I called them “slippee-slidee shoes”; made sense to me.



So this past summer in Chowchilla after I realized that gardening is well, kind of dirty, I didn’t want to ruin my sneakers, and flip flops were  not always the smartest choice while mowing the lawn, I grabbed a pair a pair of chanclas while shopping for supplies at one of the big-box stores around here.  They were marked down to $5 so I figured what the heck.  Angela said, “So you got yourself a pair of chanclas?”  I said, “What? You mean these slippee-slidee things?  She laughed hysterically and said, “Umm, yeah.  They’re called chanclas.  You’ve never heard that?”  Obviously, no I had not.  Knowing my thirst for knowledge, she said, “Look it up.”  So first stop, Urban Dictionary; one of my favorite sources.  There I learned about chancla, chanclas, chancleta, chancletas, and a whole buttload of other words with the root “chancla” but that are a little rude and get into some name-calling; you can go look them up yourself too, but now I know bit more about my chanclas.  They are delightful.  They are delicious.  They may not be de-lovely, but who cares; they feel good!

Now that I have a pair, I notice them everywhere…at the grocery store, the Starbucks, Carl’s Jr. (Wanda’s favorite place to get take-out lunch from) and all the other hot spots of Chowchilla.  How did I ever live without these things?  I can wear them out in the garden, kick them off by the door, and hose’m down.  They aren’t as slippery on the grass as flip-flops and offer more protection.  I admit I’m one of those lesbians who learned while living in San Francisco to wear socks with my Birkenstocks.  Subsequent butch girls pressured me to get rid of them, but secretly I love them and so of course I have worn socks with my chanclas even while my wife laughs at me.  But she does it too.  So there is the added advantage that when it’s not sunny and warm outside, you can do them with socks.  I think they kind of look cute.  Here’s Angela in her chanclas with shorts look.


Then I realized a couple weeks ago that duh, there’s no snow here…it’s not summer, but I can wear them in the winter too!  I just added black socks for a monotone black chanclas winter “kicking back in sweats” look.  Why not?


Okay, I admit they are not pretty.  They are not femme-y.  They definitely qualify in lesbian practicality and casual fashion though.  It’s hard to be dressed up and femme-y every minute of this country life so a girl has to have some more practical options.  I may have to look into some ways to bling them up a bit though before next summer.  This country life is just different that way.  No point in wearing Jimmy Choo’s for lawn mowing, raking, gardening and whatnot.  Well maybe for whatnot.

Blessed are the chanclas for they may be worn by many, are ideal for a range of budgets and purposes, and will make your feet say “ahh.”

You can find Pamela’s blog here…Queer Femme In The Country


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