Archive | 10:35 PM

To Chanlca or not To Chancla … That is the Question

10 Feb

Have you met The Chancla?

It was the deadly slipper that seemed to get passed on from generation to generation. It didn’t look like much by itself. Sometimes it was pink and fuzzy, other times it was flip flop with what appeared to be a flimsy rubber sole to the naked eye.  But looks were deceiving.

A pair of well-used flip-flops.

Image via Wikipedia

If your parents were born in Mexico, Central America or South America you are probably aware of this little Latino phenomenon. Not everyone I guess, but I would say 99.9 percent of the Latino population knows The Chancla.

I myself am very familiar with it. However, I wasn’t a bad kid growing up. I just grew up in a rough inner-city neighborhood and my mom wanted to make sure I didn’t cross the line, didn’t think of crossing the line, didn’t breathe on the line, didn’t even look at the line.

Most of the time I received visits from The Chancla for missing curfew. I tried sneaking in after curfew many times but was hardly successful. Our one-bedroom apartment made it difficult for me to ever sneak in without getting caught.

There was no escaping it. I’d take off my shoes, wrap anything that jingled in my coat, opened the door quietly, took a few steps, and there it was — the floorboard. That killed it every time. It’s creaking was like a prison alarm summoning all the guards.

Sure enough, after the rickety wood gave us away, the warden would emerge from the dark corner, wearing her uniform: a long aqua-blue terry cloth bathrobe with bleach stains on the bottom. She would shake her head, rub her blood-shot eyes, and then give me the look. I knew operation “sneaking-in” had failed.

I would take a deep breath and do one of two things: lie or tell the truth. If neither of them passed my mom’s test of satisfaction it was over. The Chancla would surface. Put into the wrong hands, my parents’, it became a deadly weapon. The sole transformed into a hard object. Very hard and painful. But I survived, I was a good kid. I was a good kid to begin with didn’t need any help from The Chancla, but parents wanted to make sure.

So now as my son is growing up, my mom and aunts begin giving me their “old school” opinions.

My son…he cracks me up. He’s got personality and sweetness, but he’s three. He tests your boundaries, sometimes to the limit.

Not everyone has patience. I am quite aware of that. However I’ve had the advantage (at the time it was a serious disadvantage) of being a substitute middle school teacher for a couple of years. Middle school … have you met this beast? I got all the patience I needed from that gig. So my range is a little more tolerable than most members of my family including my husband.

But the question arose…to Chancla or not to Chancla?

My son is awesome. But let’s not get crazy sometimes he acts up. He gets attitude. He doesn’t always cooperate at the supermarket. He needs to watch Wonder Pets when I’m trying to watch The Closer. He doesn’t necessarily go to sleep when he’s supposed. He yells when the baby is sleeping. It happens. He’s three. But there’s mom and some family members “…hey hey hey, looks like he may need the chancla soon.”

Calm down. He’s three, just take away his trains or fire engines and he thinks the world is ending. But if he starts drinking Drano, cutting the baby’s hair or lighting ants on fire well … I’ll revisit the topic.