Sunny days aren’t the only signal that summer is ahead. As soon as the weather gets a bit warmer, you can actually hear the changing season as people dawn that ever-popular footwear often called flip-flops. This name comes from the sometimes disturbingly loud sound produced when wearing them of bare flesh slapping against rubber. Between the squishy “flip-flop” sound of this casual footwear and the “clack-clack-squish” of sandals, warm weather seems to come with its own unlikely percussion section. These actually belong to Philippe, though I made them a couple of sizes smaller so they would fit properly in my sketchbook. He wears them only at home as he thinks wearing them on the street is gross, a concept which I find to be true only on a case-by-case basis. I feel, instead, that one should happily wear whatever makes them comfortable, but one should also keep close the number of a good pedicurist if naked feet are part of the equation. Either way, there’s no denying that a sunny day can often come with not only warmth, but a heck of a lot of rhythm.
Beyond the foot nudity that one sees in summer, Philippe was initially shocked by just how much other flesh is shown in the middle of the city. Being an American boy who simply grew up with all of this, I didn’t think anything of it. I mean, we are a country that only recently allowed naked butts on television. And then, only after a certain hour in the evening. We’re total prudes! How could anything that we do in that regard be shocking to someone across the pond. But upon looking it up, I saw an article that said if you’re in France, you could face a fine if you’re a shirtless man or woman in a bikini who wasn’t actually sitting on a beach. Simply strolling or running through town without regular clothing is frowned upon. This article was from 2010, and it apparently depends on the city, but it’s still rather intriguing. Our answer to this in America is to post signs that say, “No Shoes. No Shirt. No Service.” We won’t let you into a business, but you are free to flaunt your semi-nudity just outside the glass.
Personally, I prefer to keep my flesh covered as much as possible. I’m not horribly out of shape, but I’ve seen enough magazine covers to know that I shouldn’t be flaunting anything publicly. I’ve gone through phases of trying to make my body look firm and perfect in my life. There was a time when I was all about hot yoga, and my intense obsession with it only managed to make me look like I was badly in need of a sandwich. I never came close to resembling those hot models I saw on the magazine covers. Of course, it’s all a bit of lie as those images go through fierce digital manipulation to achieve that level of perfection. In reality, we’re all just real people with real bodies and if we want to show naked bits of these bodies, then we should just go for it. Who really cares? And if ones wants to join in the percussion of summer properly, then by all means, go ahead and dawn the appropriate attire to truly celebrate the season of flip-flops.
About the Doodlewash
M. Graham Watercolors: Cobalt Teal, Cobalt Blue, Neutral Tint. Alvin Draft-Matic Mechanical Pencil in an A6 Hahnemühle Watercolor Book.