When you are a perpetual traveler, you don’t have as many possessions as a normal person. And the things that you do have, well, you get kind of attached to them.
That’s what happened to Jared and his Guinness thongs.
Shoot. I forget that most of my readers are American, so I’d better clear that up.
That’s what happened to Jared and his Guinness flip-flops.
Jared was playing with my friend’s son during our first visit to Indiana in 2009, when his thong gave out.
“Hang on,” said Zach. “I’ve got a new pair that are too small for me.”
Like a weird, less-interesting version of Cinderella, they fit Jared perfectly, and a beautiful relationship was born.
They didn’t leave his feet for the rest of the trip, and obviously came back to England with us. Jared’s kind of picky about his thongs (wide foot, plus he doesn’t like the rubber straps because they dig in. What a princess.), so I was happy that replacing the old ones had been so easy.
Jared and the thongs traveled to five continents: North America, Europe, Africa, Australia, and Asia. They even visited the Guinness Brewery in Dublin, where he hoped to find a spare pair, should something ever happen to them.
No thongs to be seen. Actually, I think they had the other kind of thongs, but that’s not quite what he was after.
Though sometimes I think maybe it should have been:
They continued unscathed to Australia, up to Thailand, then back to America before heading to South Korea in 2010. Even though Asians don’t tend to wear thongs very frequently, that didn’t slow things down.
By now the thongs were nearly two years old, and had seen more countries than most humans do in a lifetime. They were battered, but showed no sign of surrender.
Then, in Mongolia, disaster struck.
The strap came out of one side on the right shoe. Out in the Mongolian steppes, replacement thongs are hard to come by. Luckily, these were the Mongolian steppes, full of resourceful people like our driver. Within minutes, he had sewn up the thong with a needle and a length of twine, procured from the bowels of the van.
The thongs were back in the game.
Travel resumed throughout Asia, including India, a place where you’d really be better off to avoid wearing thongs. Even if you’re wary of every step, you’re liable to step in something unpleasant.
They had taken a beating. They had slogged across rough terrain in 18 countries and were on track to tick Japan and South America off of their bucket list.
And then, on Sunday, we walked to Cheongryeongpo, where the young King Danjong was exiled to almost 600 years ago. It was a sweltering hot day, but we’d decided to take the 2 kilometer journey by foot.
While picking across the stony shores of the mini-peninsula, Jared let out a cry.
“Blowout,” he said sadly. “I think that’s the end.”
In what must be the leading cause of death for thongs everywhere, the center plug had come out completely, with no hope of restoration. Jared walked most of the way back barefoot, dangling the busted thongs from his hand.
When we got back to the apartment, he stuffed them into a garbage bag on the curb.
They’d had a good run.