Chancleta: Hispanic word for a cheap sandal or flip-flops; also known as chancla. Often used as disciplinary tool to correct lamentable behavior. -Urban Dictionary
It sounds like a bad thing and it could be. It's the punishment that's harsher than a time-out but less harsher than the belt. It's also controversial. You do not use the chancleta in public but it's very affective.
When you're home that's what's most available to a parent."Nena, go get me the chanclas," my dad would say after a hard day, he'd say it as if the words were too heavy and he was too tired to say it at all. If you ever heard him asked for his chanclas or chancletas any other way....watch out.
I was mischievous as a girl and I've been "disciplined" in many ways.
I stole a piece of just-fried chicken from a big bowl and the next second...WHAP! My mom hit me on the knuckles with a wooden spoon. Never stole a piece of chicken again but it was the best piece of chicken I ever stole.
I lolly-gagged in front of the t.v. when my dad was watching the news. WHAP! My dad threw a remote from across the room. I never crossed the TV again, I walked around his ratty old recliner before I was served another wrath from that remote.
Chancleta is different. I pulled my cousins hair...WHAP! I talked back. WHAP! I cursed, God forbid, WHAP! I ran around and yelled and was just pretty much a monster at the grocery store....all my dad had to do was whisper chancleta or pow-pow in my ear and I straightened up. To me, it's the one that teached morality. Stop tattle telling! WHAP! It even hurts when they use it like boomerangs.
I can't say flip flop. It's doesn't sound natural from me. Fahlip Fahlop. Yea...still doesn't sound right to me. I was in second grade when I finally realized that "flip flop" and "chancleta" was one and the same. I was a product of a sailor from Bronx, NY and an accountant mother from Ponce, Puerto Rico. We didn't speak Spanish or English it was more of a Spanglish. Half my words I knew in English and the other half in Spanish. So off to speech classes I went. With charts and pictures of things like chicken, fire trucks and chancletas. No....not chancletas...flip flops! Chancleta! Ugh!
Eventually, growing up I learned how to avoid that chancleta. You never ever run away from the chancleta. Oh no...it hurts worse. Eventually as you grow you learn what rules can be bended. So even today, I'm a little mischievous but I try my best to grow and to become my own person, a better person.
So it's not as random as you think. It's a celebration of the moments when you decide to break some rules and learn from your mistakes by doing so.