Chanclas. The word that strikes fear and trembling into the hearts and limbs of children of all ages.
My Anglo and multi-cultural friends may not recognize this weapon of sass destruction by name due to its Spanish heritage, but I can all but guarantee you’ll pay homage to its effectiveness as a disciplinary device used by your grandmother or perhaps even your neighbor’s grandmother on your backside at some point in your childhood.
Whether thrown or applied manually, chanclas – translated “slippers” or “flip-flops” – left indelible marks on our childhoods.
All naughty nineys or bare limbs were fair game in those days, regardless of who you belonged to.
You trample a begonia while playing chase, or break a flowerpot with a carelessly thrown ball, or maybe your sassy mouth runs away from you, and WHACK! Off comes the slipper with lightning speed and you simply cannot believe the agility with which that little white-haired lady chases you down and applies the sole of chastening. WHACK! WHACK!
Mouth shut. Lesson learned. Never again. Chanclas. Shudder.
Memories are strong enforcers.
My Latina friend Nemaida shared with me a telling video depicting fully grown, burly, macho men blanching and cowering in fear at the mere mention of the word. The mere glimpse of a tiny, shriveled-up grandma reaching for her shoe sent hardened criminals running, screaming, “I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I won’t do it again!”
It made me laugh, but it got me to thinking. What if we were to incorporate this deeply embedded emblem of dread and punishment for doing wrong into our courts of law?
Maybe our penal system should consider replacing pomp, dignified, robed judges with angry grandmas welding blazing chanclas. We might actually deter future crimes if aspiring criminals knew they’d have to face THE SHOE.
So tell me, dear BFF, what was the chief deterrent of naughtiness in the culture in which you were raised?
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