Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bare Feet

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In the UK and the USA a lot of people feel a sense of disgust and abjection towards feet. Of course, in many Asian countries, the foot is considered to be unclean. However, this is in connection with the fact that the foot touches the ground. Thus, shoes are considered to be far more unclean than the naked foot. In an Asian home, barefeet are acceptable, but shoes are not. This is actually the very opposite of the western abjection of the foot.

It is very common in internet discussions about shoes-off in homes for the subject of barefeet to be raised. It is argued that barefeet are disgusting, more so than the dirt on peoples' shoes. Of course, if you do feel that feet are disgusting, you could still ask visitors to remove their shoes if you were too lend them flip flops or socks to wear. Angie mentioned this in a previous post.

It is very likely that the sense of disgust about barefeet will decline. Sandals and flip flops have become incredibly popular in the UK and the USA. People are becoming more used to exposed feet. And ladies (and maybe some men) are spending good money on keeping them looking nice.

The argument that feet are more unhygienic than shoes is quite wrong. Unless a person has been going barefoot outdoors, they will not have been picking up the awful things that the soles of shoes pick up. You may think your feet are disgusting, however, you undoubtedly have more germs on your hands than on your feet. Feet are usually remarkably cleaner than the average pair of hands.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Being Straight With Guests

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I would argue that having a 'don't ask but encourage' policy with shoes is not really any more polite than having a shoes-off rule.

Sometimes it is good for people to know where they stand.

It did occur to me that having a 'don't ask' policy might cause resentment and division amongst guests at party.

The people who take their shoes off may feel superior to those who have kept their shoes on. Even worse they may feel resentful of those people who have kept their shoes on.

A bigger problem is the embarrassment caused to guests who have kept their shoes on when they realise that shoes-off is preferred. Discovering that shoes-off is preferred when they have been walking about the house shod for an hour might make them feel rather awkward.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Blossom

The blossom is falling like snow. It's very pretty, but it's starting to cover the street. It's not the sort of thing you want to walk into your carpet, so taking your shoes off at the door is definitely a good idea.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Husbands

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There are an awful lot of comments on the internet by ladies who would like to have a no-shoes house, but have an husband who refuses to remove his shoes. I can only recall one comment by a man whose partner was reluctant to comply with a shoes-off policy.

Husbands, can you not see any benefit in having a clean home? If you have to get your carpet cleaned or replaced it will cost you money.

Why be bossed about by your wife? Why not take the initiative and introduce a shoes-off policy in the home yourself. Take some leadership in the household. If you read this blog, you will find plenty of reasons for not wearing shoes at home.

You cannot think that there is anything manly about being worried about getting cold feet?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Hospitality Part 2

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Guests are aware when they visit a home that the hosts have boundaries that cannot be crossed.

Guests know or should know that they cannot go wandering about upstairs, looking in their hosts' bedrooms. They ought to be careful in conversation that they do not mention subjects that may cause offence to the host. If the host has strong views on a subject, it is best not to argue with him or her. Guests know that they cannot bring their pet dog to somebody else's home unless the host has expressly said this is acceptable. Even if the host is an animal lover, permission to bring a pet dog must be sought.

It is now recognised by most people that when you visit the home of a non-smoker, they should not smoke inside. If they need to smoke, they should put their coat on and go outside. There are still some people, probably mostly from the upper strata of British society who think it is rude to forbid smoking in one's home. However, this view is very much in a minority.

It is important to recognise these boundaries when one visits a home and if hosts prefer, even if they do not insist on it, removal of shoes, this should be complied with by guests. To ignore this boundary is, as stated in the previous post, taking hospitality for granted.

Some people would object to comparisons with smoking pointing out the health risks of smoking, compared with the minor ill effects to health of wearing shoes past the door. However, it is not so much the health risks that should deter smoking in a non-smoking home. Nobody is going to get lung cancer because a few guests smoked at a dinner party. They are unlikely to even develope a cough because of it. No, the reason one should not smoke in a non-smoking home is simply because the smells and mess are not convenient for such hosts. It is simply impolite. Likewise it is not convenient to impose the dirt and dust of your shoes in the home of a person who would object to it.

Some would argue that it is polite for guests to remove their shoes if this is what the hosts do, but it is impolite for the host to request shoes-off. They feel that it is better to leave the responsiblity of politness to guests. To my mind, this is not quite logical. If guests have the responsibility to comply with the preference of their hosts, then it is surely quite reasonable for guests to make their preference known.

Part of the reason why a verbal request for shoes-off may be necesary is because etiquette is so uncertain and in such a state fo flux on this point. While it may be a good idea to remove one's shoes when one is welcomed by a shoe-less host, as this may be a shoes-off home, such a gesture might be taken as impolite by some. There are some who go shoe-less in their home who would be surprised by guests going shoe-less. It is probably necessary for those who desire shoe-removal to make their wish known.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Green Beans: Baby Steps to Cleaner, Greener Living: Week 2 Take Off Your Shoes

Green Beans: Baby Steps to Cleaner, Greener Living: Week 2 Take Off Your Shoes

'Stop right there!! Don’t take another step!! Go back to the door and take off your shoes!! Phew. That’s better.

Geez, I almost passed out there. Don’t you know what you’ve been tracking into your home? Besides regular dirt and grit that can scratch up and eat away at your flooring, there’s dust, mold, microbes, feces, chemicals, viruses, and general “EWE” (that’s the unidentified gunk that scientists have not yet determined to actually exist, but I know is there!) Even worse, that toxic germy soup settles into your carpets and corners just waiting for you to kick it up and breathe it in. Yum!'

Practically Green:Earth Day Celebration all Month Long! #5 is SO Environmentally Healthy: Take Off Shoes When You Come Indoors!

Practically Green- Earth Day Celebration all Month Long! #5 is SO Environmentally Healthy: Take Off Shoes When You Come Indoors!

'Growing up in Florida with the beach virtually my backyard, I spent a good deal of my childhood barefoot — outside and inside — so maybe that’s why having a shoes-off policy in my own home feels completely natural. I now live in New England, where “mud season” stretches well into April and almost every house has a mudroom and a pile of boots near the door. ‘Boots off’ is the norm in my neighborhood.

But even if you’re lucky enough to live in a place where it’s flip-flop season year round, a shoes-off policy is an essential step in protecting your family from germs that can creep in on the soles of your shoes. “Dirt” tracked in endangers more than carpets. Residues from the lead in car exhaust, toxins from lawn pesticides, traces of animal waste and allergens like pollen on the ground all present a health risk, especially to small children and pets that spend time on the floor. You don’t have to be neat freak like Monica from Friends or a germaphobe like Monk, the TV detective, to care about these risks. Removing shoes at the door is simply a matter of good hygiene, like hand washing.'

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Hospitality Part1

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There are some who think that asking guests to remove their shoes is contrary to the principle of hospitality.

This is a culturally relative matter. Albania and Turkey are countries in which hospitality is greatly valued and yet it is expected in those countries that guests remove their shoes.

The shoes-on people argue that a hostess should primarily be concerned with her guests comfort and not with the state of her carpet or floor. However, most guests will feel more comfortable after removing their shoes. They may, admittedly, be uncomfortable because they are embarassed about their feet or they feel their shoes are part of their outfit. Those problems can be dealt with by letting guests know in advance that shoes-off is expected and so they can either bring slippers or plan their outfits with bare or stocking feet in mind. Any embarassment should be minimal if guests are not taken by surprise.

In my opinion, those who insist that guests should be allowed to keep their shoes on take hospitality for granted. I may well invite you. I will give you the best seat. I will cook for you. I will serve you the best food I can. I will give you whatever you want to drink, whether it be alcoholic or not. I will give you my undivided attention. I will entertain you with conversation. If you live nearby, I will drive you home in my car. If not, I will let you stay the night. I will wash up the dishes and cutelry you have used and clean up any mess you make. Given that I am willing to do all this for you, do you really think it is so unreasonable that I ask you to take your shoes off?