Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Keep your shoes on!

In Asia, it is the custom for every person entering your home to first remove their shoes before walking through the door.

Simple, right? Ha, no. Aaron and I have a ridiculously hard time adhering to this one.

Yet everyone does it. EVERYONE.

The guys that moved our stuff into our apartment even removed their shoes. They would get a box from the truck, carry it up several flights of stairs, remove their shoes at our front door and then carry it to the desired room. Then on the way out the door, they'd put their shoes back on to grab the next box. It was a maddening thing to watch. How much of their day is wasted messing with their shoes? So after watching them fumble to remove their shoes while holding our heavy bedroom mattress, I finally had to stop the madness.

"Please just leave them on! I'll have to clean the floor anyway! It's fine, I swear."

They were very reluctant, but finally agreed that it'd be easier.

Yet, every maintenance guy that comes to our place refuses to keep his on. It's just not something they are equipped to do.

So fine. We got used to that part. And we got used to having to remove our shoes when we went to Simon's house or any other local's house.

What we do still have trouble with is our American friends.

It seems that every single American person we know in Singapore immediately picked up this Asian custom as soon as they stepped off the plane.

I cannot remember going to a single person's house in America where they made me take off my shoes before I was allowed to come inside. (That is, unless it was raining, snowing or muddy outside, but that's common decency.)

Seriously though. Why the flip as soon as we enter Asia? Are there shoe police somewhere that I don't know about? When did all of my American friends adopt this?

I have a real problem being barefoot in a stranger's house. It makes me feel very vulnerable. I even feel hesitant to remove my shoes when I'm getting a pedicure. I'm always thinking:

"Is their floor clean?"

"When was the last time they cleaned it?"

"Does anyone in this house have athlete's foot?" (call me crazy, but I got this once as a child from a gymnastics studio and that is a road that I NEVER want to travel down again)

"Am I going to step on anything?"

"Is my pedicure chipping?"

I know I have issues. I just don't feel comfortable being barefoot in someone's house that I don't know that well.

Aaron has issues with it as well, only his worries a different. He says that he's always thinking:

"Are my toenails dirty?"

"Do my socks match?"

"Are there holes in my socks?"

"Do my feet stink?"

Yeah, we're both a bunch of anxiety-ridden weirdos, I guess. Sometimes we just keep them on to see if we can avoid the whole thing and then feel like goobers when people send us back out to remove our shoes.

Not fun.

I've never told anyone this, but each time I remove my shoes, the scene from SATC always plays through my head.

I too, always want to exclaim "But this is an outfit!"

But really, if my shoes ever get stolen, I will never take them off again.

Not that I have any worthy of stealing, but still.


Brad Farless said...

I'm one of those people that picked this up pretty quickly, BUT... with a bit of a twist.

We don't wear outside shoes in the house past the front door area. We instead switch to flip flops (used in the house only) and deposit our outdoor shoes on a rack. That way our shoes are safe and so are our feet.

Hil said...

you are not alone! i detest taking off my shoes in someone else's house for all of the same reasons you list (including aaron's). plus my feet just get cold! seems to be a thing that (unfortunately) is catching on in the US too (and France). i have planned my outfits over whether or not i'll have to take my shoes off at whoever's house i'm visiting.

Mae Mastura said...

our homes are considered sacred places, as in really sacred. for example in muslim houses, we also lay our prayer mats on the floor when we pray. all the dirts from our shoes, from trips to the toilets when we're out etc, i shudder to think what kind of dirt i'm bringing in from outside into my home. like Brad, i too have footwear i put on specially for within the house. most usually i just totter around in my bedroom slippers.

TF said...

I have to disagree here. I grew up in Hawaii, where there is a strong Japanese influence. Everyone leaves their shoes at the door. It makes sense -- you don't want to track your dirt and mud into the carpet! And it's not as if the bottom of your feet aren't protected -- the skin is pretty thick.

Cori said...

Don't laugh Sis, but Johnny and I rarely wear shoes in our home either. We leave them in the garage. It started when the kids were babies. You get concerned about what you're tracking into the house, since they're on the floor all of the time. (Especially since I work with sick people.)
I have also noticed that most of my friends do the same thing at their homes, presumably for the same reason, and we do it without asking at each other's homes.
I pretty much don't leave the house without either REALLY nice socks on that match, or a cute pedicure. ;)

Celestial Fundy said...

Hi. I live in the UK where removing shoes is not the tradition, but I am trying to promote it.

I have an whole blog about removing shoes in homes: Shoes Off at the Door, Please You might like to take a look.

Deidre said...

My family has a no shoe policy in the house rule.

I once had a boy in my apartment who started taking off his clothes - i guess he thought we were about to get it on...we weren't - and when I asked him why on earth he was taking off his pants he said "well, you took off your shoes"...

Megan said...

Deidre, that is hilarious. Ha ha ha ha. Wow, I bet that wasn't awkward at all. :)

Brad Farless said...

Deidre, that was the most awesomely entertaining thing I've heard in a long time! Poor guy. I bet he was red with embarrassment after that.

Anonymous said...

I'm from Ohio and my mother and grandmother never let us wear shoes in their housees. So, coming to Singapore was not too much of a change for me. Especially now that I wear sandals all the time and they are easy to take off!

Beau Lotus said...

You don't have to remove your shoes in most Continental European homes, in fact my MIL freaked out when I asked her to remove her shoes in my house. But the Swedish, for example, do. And they get very upset when you do not remove our shoes in their homes. Even kids in Swedish schools have this habit - you need to bring slippers and leave them there.