Thursday, September 20, 2012

You Aren't Going to Steal My Shoes Are you?

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!

Christian?

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!

64 comments:

  1. I don't mind people wearing shoes when they come into my house, but I do insist that they take off their toupees. I have a very strict no toupee policy.

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    1. Oh totally. No question about it with regards to toupees. The last thing you want to have to do is vacuum up a bunch of toupee hair.

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  2. Christian and Pat,

    Awesome lines: "finally giving up drinking scotch, for the night" and "people should always take their shoes off at my place but when I’m at their place I’m leaving them on." Hilarious, as usual!!!

    I will settle things for you once and all, based on what we do in my house. I make sure I have on clean socks and no shoes whatsoever in the morning to zip out and grab the newspaper from the muddy grass. Bonus points if it is raining. I also yell at my kids to take their shoes off when they come home from school, and since they are very cooperative they always do and then the proceed to lose one (just one, makes the game more fun when the school bus is in front of our house the next day).

    If we go to a party situation where everyone is taking off their shoes and there is a lot of peer pressure to show off the non-existent pedicure, then I make a loud inappropriate joke when I am leaving about how I am choosing a shoe upgrade and does anyone where size 8. (Did you miss that episode of "Sex and the City" where Carrie's new Manolo stilettos are stolen at a party?) When everybody laughs uncomfortably about my lame joke, I realize that this is the time to make my move. Because I am serious. Suede shoes from France are my favorite.

    Hope this helps solve the conundrum!

    best,
    MOV

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    1. Thanks! You're right. If you leave the party early there is a whole free shoe store waiting for you at the door. That had never occurred to me. This might be a game changer.

      Thanks again for the shout out.

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  3. If you keep your shoes on, then you can make a quicker exit when things get boring/awkward/someone brings out a guitar/someone brings out their gun.

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    1. This is an excellent point. And it's hard to decide which is worse. Someone getting out a guitar or getting out a gun. Hopefully no guitar-guns though.

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    2. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT go to any parties at Ted Nugent's house.

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  4. I have a foot-stank issue, but I also understand if people are worried about their white carpet (which, seriously, bad choice in carpet color). So, to solve this, if you are a household who prefers shoes off, you have to make that well known ahead of time so that we can all prepare. I won't wear the socks with the holes in the toes, and the host will be equally prepared by having a can of Febreeze or Arm-and-Hammer by the door to assist in the guests' possible foot odor. Win win.

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    1. I agree. They should specify what the shoe policy is going to be on the invitation. And list off what odor fighting accoutrements will be available. If it's BYOOFA then I might not be attending.

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  5. I think you need to have a quick glance at the floor - if it looks like the bottom of your shoes are cleaner than their floor then keep them on! lol

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    1. But then my shoes might get dirty. Man there is just no solution to this problem.

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  6. My sister in law solved this problem... she put a bench by the front door, and a shelf full of every slipper you could imagine (which she washes whenever they're used). If it's convenient, sure.

    Except when I go to other people's houses, who don't have a bench and 90 pairs of slippers to choose from. Why the hell would I take off my shoes if I don't get to wear sock monkey slippers?

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    1. Your sister-in-law must be a genius. That bench sounds like heaven. I hate stumbling around by the front door as I'm trying to take my shoes off at a no-shoe household. And slippers? YES! What is more luxurious than slippers! How do we get invited to a party at your sister-in-law's?

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  7. Thanks to MOV, I wandered over here. I'm kind of creeped out by the taking off the shoes thing and other peoples' bare feet in my house. I'd like to know ahead of time if my shoes were coming off. I hardly wear sock, even in the winter, so I would make sure I chose those without holes or a matching pair. Fun conundrum to ponder, for sure!

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    1. Frankly, I like to know ahead of time if any of my clothes will be coming off when visiting someone else's house.

      Thanks for swinging by from MOV's!

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  8. i almost always take mine off in my own house or other people's houses, but it's not out of cleanliness or politeness, just a matter of comfort. i don't care at all if someone wears their shoes in my house, unless they're filthy. then don't be stupid, take your shoes off.
    i'm here thanks to MOV. i need to check out some of your other posts now too and see if i want to hang around.

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    1. We don't have a shoes off policy at my house but like you said I would expect them to come off if they're filthy. The problem is I don't trust most people's ability to determine the level of filthiness of their shoes.

      Thanks for stopping by. Hopefully you'll hang around. :)

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  9. We lived in Hawaii. Shoes off was de rigeur. (Of course the shoes were usually flip flops or sandals. Easy on, easy off.)

    Personally, I like shoes off. I get tired of tracked in (pick one or more): mud, leaves, grass, oil, asphalt, doggy doo, bugs, dirt, water.

    MOV sent me your way. Good blog.

    Susan
    http://travelbug-susan.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks for stopping by. Yeah in my book sandals and flip-flops are like having no shoes on anyways so might as well take them off when you get inside.

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  10. The no shoes police is an unofficial rule here in T&T, but with it's own subtle nuances.

    - If you live there: shoes off.

    - Visitors, shoes on.

    - Overnight or otherwise expended stays (relatives from overseas, hostages/kidnap victims, friend needing a place to crash while they "sort things out", etc): Optional, but preferably shoes off.

    It isn't too complicated once you get the hang of it.

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    1. That should be *no shoes policy*. But that does add a new dynamic to things, doesn't it?

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    2. Yeah I was going to say a no shoes police??? Wow you guys really take this shoe issue seriously in T&T.

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  11. I am also of the opinion that people should take them off at my house but I shouldn't have to at other people's houses. Which, I guess, means I completely disagree with Christian, somehow.

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    1. Disagree? Or did you mean agree? I'm confused. Wait this isn't some scheme to steal my shoes is it?

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  12. I prefer no shoes because I don't want to get TB.

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  13. That: was a lot of words on the subject of taking shoes off. I am IMPRESSED.

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    1. Thanks. Beating a topic to death is one of our special skills. OK, fine it's the only one.

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  14. I like to really confuse our guests by having MY shoes off while insisting they keep theirs on. I feel this says, "Make yourself at home, but, not SO at home. The only person truly comfortable here is me, the home owner, in my luxurious shoelessness." This must be why I've won so many amateur hostess awards.

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    1. I like this a lot. I think I'm going to start doing that too. And maybe also insist that they keep their jacket on too.

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  15. Being fairly antisocial this isn't something I really had to worry about until my son became a teenager- this presents the largest demographic conundrum of this debate. To stereotype, all teenage boys have filthy shoes AND all teenage boys have stinky a** feet. I have spent a lot of time hiding in my bedroom this past year, darting out occasionally to squirt a shot of Febreze and a handful of potato chips into the living room...

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    1. Oh crap. I have a 4 yr old son. I bet he'll be a teenager someday. Hopefully by then science will have come up with an odor fighting potato chip that will make everything easier.

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    2. Odor fighting potato chips ironically taste like feet.

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  16. I never wear shoes if I can possibly avoid it, so I'm shoes off person. But I also have hardwood floors, so when it comes to visitors, they can wear whatever they damn well please. Or the semi-mandatory go-go boots I keep at the door for guests.

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    1. Your semi-mandatory go-go boots gave me an idea. If people insist on wearing their shoes at my place maybe I should require them to bring an extra pair of "indoor" shoes that they have to put on once they get to my house. Mr. Rogers style.

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  17. Love this blog! And love reading all these responses too! Ditto what Kate N said! LOL :-) Happy Friday all!

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  18. Okay, so I am just super-awed by your savvy with diving into the cake like that. I would never have thought of this. Obviously need to keep reading your blog for inspiration. Also, pretty sure that WedMD is actually a conspiracy to test the panic-inducing effects of false diagnoses on the psyche. At this point, I should have died 16 times over from cancer of the fingernail or the likes thereof.

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    1. Totally agree with you about WebMD. For a while there I thought I had hair cancer.

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  19. New follower. You had me at Nacho Baby.

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    1. Sweet, thanks! I'm glad something positive came from those nachos.

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  20. I have neighbors. Wait, there's more. I invited them into my house and told them "you don't have to take your shoes off" to which they replied "We don't do that." That is how to make your host(ess) feel like a disgusting slob.
    My only real request is, please don't put dirty shoes on my kitchen counter. Oddly, I have guests who have a hard time following this simple rule.

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    1. Maybe the solution here is just to never have guests. The more I think about them the more I don't like them.

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  21. I have four kids, wearing shoes in my house definitely won't hurt anything. LOL! However, I would respect if someone wanted me to take mine off at theirs. Although, I would want to know ahead of time so I wear good socks. Hehe. Luckily, I've never had to do this though!

    http://www.memoirsofmeandmine.com/

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    1. Yeah I've noticed that the older my kids are getting the more our house is obtaining that "damaged" look. So why am I concerned with a little dirt getting on the "damage"?

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  22. I'm decidedly in the "take your shoes off at my house but I'm leaving mine on at your house" camp. Better yet, I'm going to just stop socializing completely and eliminate the problem, while wearing gigantic ducky slippers in the comfort and privacy of my own home.

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    1. Totally. I mean with e-mail and the plethora of social networks out there why are we still visiting people's houses? It's 2012 for god's sake.

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  23. If everybody would just stay in their own house, we wouldn't have these kinds of problems.

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    1. Excellent point. Or maybe we need to connect everyone's houses together with spotless underground tubes so we don't have to worry about any shoe issues. Whichever solution is the easiest.

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  24. HA! Love the conversation aspect of your blog! You know - years ago I went to a home and at the door the "friend" instructed me to remove my shoes before entering. I was offended and felt like she thought I was unclean and not good enough.
    Fast forward to now - I totally get it. If you really think about all the germs that get on the bottom of shoes (parking lots, other's yards (dog poop remnants anyone?)and all the other nasty micro yucky stuff that is sure to be there,it makes sense. I don't make people remove shoes but when it gets on my mind it does bother me, even my own families shoes.

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    1. Excellent points. I hadn't really thought about the germ aspects of this issue. Do you think it would be bad if I started asking guests to wear plastic gloves while visiting my house? I don't like germs.

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  25. Replies
    1. Thanks! We appreciate and welcome any kind of glowing positive feedback.

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  26. Have you considered having everyone walk on their hands? Hmm, but then there's the whole gloves vs. no gloves issue, and a possible gloves vs. mittens debate. Too volatile. Next thing you know, a battle worse than the American Civil War where the North Pole most definitely defeated Timbuktu...

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  27. Oh man don't get me started on gloves vs. mittens. We have fingers for a reason people! Although I do like a good cozy mitten. Jesus there's just no winning at anything.

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  28. My sister used to have white carpets and white leather furniture. We always had to take our shoes off. It was really annoying. But one day I went there and there were piles of dirt all over the place. Apparently her baby LOVES to dig the dirt out of all their plants...:o) No more shoes off.

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    1. Yes, kids do tend to have a knack for making you give up on things.

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  29. I have a strict no shoes policy in my house, which is why, of course, nobody ever takes off their shoes when they come into my house. Which really just consists of my husband and my kids because I live too far out in the boonies for my friends to ever find me...

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    1. Moving out into the middle of nowhere so that people won't wear their grubby shoes in my house is an option I hadn't considered before. I like it.

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  30. Feet are gross. Why are you letting people into your house? Problem solved. Duh.

    Ellen

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    1. You know every time we have people over I end up asking myself that. When will I learn?

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  31. I hate to be insensitive but do you know why Japanese people can take their shoes off without shame? Little feet. And you know what that means. It's a total sexual thing for them.

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