A lot of tears were shed over President Obama’s inauguration yesterday. We saw several people interviewed who talked of the significance of America electing a black man leader, and what it means and will mean for black people everywhere. I felt all warm inside, but didn’t shed any tears. I’m not much of a crier. I thought I had felt all I would feel about it since I sat transfixed in front of the television when he won the election. I was wrong. I stepped outside today and there was a different smell in the air that pricked my senses a bit and made me feel slightly (-only slightly-) weepy. President Barack (I know him like that) is in the White House and things are feeling possible.
So it is with this new invigoration that I seek to defend a very important right: the right to keep my shoes on. Yes, I know that our forefathers didn’t struggle so I could keep my shoes on in people’s houses. But I’m riding the wave of resistance to victory in all battles, great and small.
One of my best friends in all creation lives in Canada, only a few areas of which are habitable by human beings. In the other areas, where human beings elect to live anyway, they often have bitter winters with several inches of snow on the ground for much of the year. Under these circumstances, people may understandably object to having tracks of muddy snow festooning their carpets or hardwood floors when they have guests. But, these tricky Canadian types, they use this as an excuse to ban shoes from their homes year round! They’ve started a trend: an odious trend that is taking over civilization and threatening complete outfits everywhere. We must stop it.
If I’m invited to a party, everything I choose to wear is orchestrated into an integral look. Nothing is dispensable, least of all the shoes! The fact that you choose to host this party at your home does not suddenly make my shoes irrelevant. Too often, I accept an invitation to someone’s house, have my shoes banished to the dreaded doorway shoe purgatory, and then appear in photographs looking like a street urchin who found a fancy dress in the dumpster. One day, I’m going to host a party where people must remove their trousers (lest the grommets scratch the wood furniture or something equally inane.) Then I’m going to step back and watch the puzzled looks. Of course, this may not be a fair comparison, since pants cover parts none of us wants to see. But I would no sooner remove my shoes than I would step out of my dress and hang it in the coat closet.
I’ve heard the reasons; everything from “we have a baby in the house” to “the floors are ever so delicate.” So I try to be reasonable about it. Are you afraid, then, that this baby may crawl downstairs when no one is looking, eat the dirt your guests dragged in, contract some exotic disease and die a violent death? Because your child has probably already eaten a lot more dirt than you’re aware of. And she seems pretty non-dead to me. And to those people who have floors that can’t be stepped on, I think you need to rethink your understanding of the word ‘floor’.
This is a very polarizing issue, but I am taking a stand on the side of the shoe-keepers. Some say it is a matter of courtesy to remove your shoes, but I say that the onus is on the host to make his guests comfortable and pre-empt any potentially awkward situations. Think of the position in which you’re putting people and the various embarrassments that may surface: holes in socks, crusty feet, bare feet on a cold floor, ugly toes, unpainted toes, no toes…it’s not quite fair, is it?
When I go to my best friend the Canuck’s house, I’ll continue to take my shoes off because I'm home there, and because this is possibly her only flaw; you have to pick your battles. But to anyone else who is seeking my sparkling company in their little corner of the globe, be warned of my new credo: love me, love my shoes.
Please note: If you do insist on forcing your poor friends out of their footwear, please in the name of all that is holy: do it via the sign pictured. That way, they can mock your fussiness as well as your grammar.