Better barefoot than sandals

NOW I WOULD far prefer to go barefoot and stub my toe occasionally than put on sandals that would give me corns and cause me grief for the rest of my life.

And, if I’d just escaped sandals that cost plenty-plenty-plenty more than a pair of Nike Air Jordans actually worn by Mike Jordan that I wouldn’t even get to try on for another two years after I’d put out my own money and completely covered all the business costs of the sandals man and paid in full, in advance, his whole firetrucking extortionate price – I wouldn’t be complaining, brethren, I’d be cheering.

Because I’d understand that I’d escaped from sandals that would have hobbled me. If I’d bought that c--p, everyone would have pointed at me, limping like a lame ox, and, while I was telling myself they were envying my sandals, they would really have been saying, “You know how much that pigeon-toed, yam-footed, knock-kneed, bow-legged jack--s paid for sandals that crippled him?”

Truth be told, I hate firetrucking sandals. I hate the very idea of sandals. I’d rather pay a bit more for a shoe or a lot less for throwaway plastic flip-flops than put out the kind of money that already mega-rich people who want you to buy their sandals expect nowadays. Sandals amount to a completely c--p idea for anyone, anywhere, anytime, but a particularly bad one for a place like Tobago, a place I thought about a great deal, in relation to sandals.

As it happened, you see, the last sandals investment I thought about, despite the relative astronomical cost, I’d looked at in Tobago. I was in Scarborough with my pardner, Stuart, young fella who didn’t really know his a-- from his elbow, but still thought he had the right fit of sandals for Tobago. He told me all about the spectacular, irreplaceable benefits of sandals for Tobago.

He prattled on about the supposed benefits of sandals – open toes, easy slip-on-and-off, comfort – I almost bought his cat-in-bag. Obviously, though, all the benefits he seemed to see in sandals only were actually shared by push-toes, alpagats, clogs, crocs and Reefs. But this Stuart, young, green, easily taken in by rich man’s bling and corporate buzz words, insisted sandals in Tobago was the single greatest opportunity of my lifetime, and I’d have to be an idiot or a traitor to myself not to advocate for sandals.

Stuart, young fool, fooled even himself. Because, Stuart, young and keen though he might be, would have forced me into sandals that would have ruined Tobago for me, and for all of us, forever. And I would have resented him because I firetrucking-well hate firetrucking sandals. The only thing I hate more than the idea of sandals is the “all-inclusive” concept that has utterly destroyed what used to be the greatest spiritual event of my year, every year, for most of my life: Trinidad Carnival.

Before the “all-inclusive” concept ruined Carnival for everyone but the brainless rich and their wannabe-posse, I would buy a costume from a mas band, a wineskin from a shop, a bottle of rum from Angostura and everything else, from beastly-cold Carib to bone-chicken roti from someone on the side of the road. (My plate of pelau came from Alla in Woodbrook.)

And Carnival itself was better for it. And almost no one was stabbed. And people lost themselves in one another, in mighty, massive crowds all signed up for the same thing: the celebration of us, by ourselves, for ourselves, in the name of our undying, undefeatable ability to make a joyful noise, no matter what life did to us.

The “all-inclusive” concept – really “all-exclusive”, since, wherever and however applied, it keeps out everyone but the most well-off – ruins anything it touches. It generates massive profits for the very small number of people at the very top of the pyramid. For everyone else, it’s more like actually building the pyramids of Mexico and Egypt – projects inconceivable without slave labour. The all-inclusive concept deliberately expels the people who were formerly at the heart of the matter.

The only thing I could hate more than the all-inclusive concept, because it enriches a very small number and impoverishes and marginalises everyone else, would be all-inclusive sandals. Assuming, of course, that people in Trinidad and/or Tobago could be both clever and stupid enough to devise such a difficult and painful way of mutilating themselves permanently.

BC Pires is smashing corporate icons and mashing young corns. Read a longer version of this column tomorrow at


"Better barefoot than sandals"

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