The other day I took my kids to another kid’s birthday party at which I barely knew anyone, including the owners of the house who were hosting the party. It was pretty much me and a bunch of strangers. Which was fine except that after about an hour and a half I noticed that I was the only one in the house wearing shoes. Granted this is better than suddenly noticing I was the only one wearing clothes or that I was the only one on fire, but still bad.I realized that this was one of those households where you are expected to take your shoes off when you enter, and then remembered that some little kid let me into the house when I arrived so I probably missed the opportunity to be informed of this by a knowing adult.
I could have walked over to the door and taken my shoes off but people most likely would have noticed me which would have been embarrassing so instead I quickly dove into the birthday cake knocking it over, and took my shoes off while everyone was distracted trying to get cake off of the walls and ceiling. Phew!
But it got me thinking about this no shoes indoors thing. It is rather common and I’m actually somewhat torn about the issue. On one hand, when I’m visiting other people’s houses I do prefer to leave my shoes on. On the other hand, we have somewhat recently remodeled our basement with new carpet and I cringe anytime anyone heads down there with their shoes on. Or if anyone heads down there at all. And for that matter, if anyone ever touches any of my things. It’s best if you just don’t come over.
Anyways Pat, how do you feel about the no shoes policy?
Pat: Great question, buddy! This has long been one of my frustrations, as the amateur anthropologist in me recognized long ago that our collective culture totally missed the boat on this one! Our forefathers were so intent on securing liberty and freedom and ensuring a three-branched government that would ensure limited power in order to avoid tyranny that they forgot to think about things like, “Hey, when we visit each other in this new, grand country of ours, should we expect that our hosts would prefer us to enter shod or shall we doff our footpieces?”
Remember that, should you ever think of starting up a new country!
Japan knew what they were doing. Not even a question over there. Take off your shoes or face immediate ostracization!
That clear things up for you?
Christian: Not really. If I’m understanding you correctly, you’re saying you are in favor of having to take your shoes off when indoors because the US really blew it when we gained our own independence from Japan by defeating them in the Revolutionary War. Is this correct?
Pat: No! Jeez, man, how exactly do your synapses work?
What I’m saying is that we’re screwed on this custom, as a culture. Because it wasn’t set in stone from the outset--imagine our founding fathers taking off their shoes in Independence Hall as they ratified the Declaration of Independence, thus establishing the precedent of always removing your shoes in indoor spaces if you are to call yourself an “American”--we can never establish whether it is appropriate or not to lose the shoes! Simple as that!
Walk into any house and it’s a 50-50 shot you’ve got at either looking polite (shoes off) or boorish (shoes on), or normal (shoes on) or weird (shoes off). Got it?
Christian: So putting aside whether it was Japan or the US that won the American Civil War, if you could go back in time and have our forefathers decree shoes off or shoes on as the norm, which would you choose?
I’m sensing you are a shoes off guy.
Pat: Yeah, I think I’d go shoes off. But that may be because I spent a hefty sum to get our hardwood floors refinished and we have a tree outside our house that puts out an ungodly amount of sap (what would a godly amount of sap look like?), so we have little sticky spots all over our floor...spots that would not be there if people didn’t wear their shoes inside our house.
Shoes off, I say!
‘Course, then you have a party (which we do ALL the time!) and some people have stinky feet. Hmm...I might not be able to come to a decision on this one. Have I let you down again?
Christian: Only mostly.
But I do agree it’s a hard choice. Basically if I had my way I would say people should always take their shoes off at my place but when I’m at their place I’m leaving them on. But I know this is one of those things that people are always telling me “Is not fair”, like my proposal that all other drivers should be banned from the road while I’m driving.
I don’t know if I can decide either. It’s like trying to pick between two evils. Like trying to decide between finally giving up drinking bourbon or finally giving up drinking scotch, for the night. How do you decide on something like that!?!?
I tried going to that WebMD website and asking the question there but all I was told is that I need to exercise more and that I might be going through menopause. Obviously that site is no help at all. I don’t know why people rave about it so much.
I have an idea. Why don’t we leave it up to our dearest cherished readers. They seem smart and good looking. I’ll bet they’ll have the answers. What do you think?
Pat: Certainly makes it easier than thinking of an answer myself! Let the comments begin!