Help! I’ve fallen in my chanclas and I can’t get up!

by Al Carlos Hernandez on March 19, 2012 in Cultura

House slippers are all high-tech and grippy now

It was a family tradition, no doubt rooted in the dark recesses of cholo vato loco-ism, for my sons and me to wear the cheapest-imaginable black Rite Aid $9.95 house shoes.

They were cotton corduroy, black with ridges at the top. On the bottom there was a flat layer of black foamy stuff which puppies found quite delicious. They were  worn with calf-length white tube socks. Black socks are for funerals and more formal occasions.

Backgound Information:

The more comfortable you are with your macholinity, the more apt you are to wear your chanclas outdoors. This includes going to the mall, paying bills, and buying car parts. You cannot, however, wear them while grocery shopping. This is because the only reason you are grocery shopping is that your lady has forced you to go with her; ergo you are sporting untied Chuck Taylors.

While telling war stories, someone always mentions the legendary homie who wore house shoes to a prom or to court. One OG even got married in his. The story was amended over the years to include the addendum that he “always gets married in them.”

Old-school Rite Aid chanclas

I am not that brave when it comes to footwear. Any time I am wearing chanclas after 9 AM is because I am home sick.

It was several months ago. 8:57 AM. I can remember I was walking out the front door and down the steep bricks steps. The steps were a little wet.

I had to move one of the cars because the parking vultures across the street were eyeballing my sister-in-law’s Toyota’s space. I mean laser beam mad dog stares from across the street.

I suddenly noticed that my chanclas were not below me but rather up in the air in front of me directly in my field of visiont. I thought, “This is going to really, really hurt.”

I fell on my rear and then bumped down at least four steps hitting the ground. I popped right back up and tried to make it look liked I planned to do it all along. My eyes were still fixed on the neighbor’s living room curtain. I had to see if they saw me fall and, if they did, were they laughing? Lucky for me, they ran away from the window when they heard some nut job screaming in Spanglish.

Got out to the car with one side of my jeans wet and with one of my buns dentist-office numb. Moved the car, ran back up the stairs, holding onto the rail this time, while trying to play the whole episode off.

When my wife came home that night she noticed the limp. She coxed the story out of me, all the while knowing that she had a bag full of I-told-you-so’s at the ready to bombard me (if she could get to them after laughing for a good half hour.) I was exhorted to throw the house shoes away.

We have lived in the same house for 25 years. Since this was an isolated incident, I kept the shoes and attributed the fall to driver error. I took steps to be more cognizant of the way I used the stairs while still fuzzy in my morning fog.

I did however engender a great deal of major respect as the homie who sported his chanclas to major occasions. I remembered his masterful story telling about the time he, in his ghetto footwear, was able to elude police in a high-speed foot chase, in a crowed mall during the winter with an armful of boxer shorts and ballpoint pens.

The following week I was walking my wife down to the car, carrying her backpack down the unnerving stairs, wearing you-know-what. She told me to be careful. I told her, “You don’t have to tell me to beeeee . . . whoa . . .!”

There were my slippers, eye-level again. This time I hit the bottom five steps. Now she has a major house shoe story for her homies.

Those old house shoes are gone now; I was gifted with some high tech major grip ones. Sometimes hipness is what it ain’t. Can teach this old dogg new tricks.


Story courtesy our friends at

Black canvas house slippers photo courtesy Tom’s Shoes.

{ 1 comment }

Maria March 24, 2012 at 9:33 AM

After living in Hawai’i, I found so many similarities between local traditions and those of my Mexican family. There is even a brand of flip-flops called “Zories” you can buy at Longs Drug Store. (I didn’t realize that other people in the world called Zories “flip-flops” until I was 10 or so). In Hawai’i they are called “slippahs”: aptly named. Most Hawaiians buy their “slippahs” at Long’s. This is a standing tradition. While they aren’t as protective of the food as the Rite Aid choncla, slippahs do their job in Hawai’i heat. And while the grip has improved somewhat, there, there is still a likelihood you can land on your okole.

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