There is nothing worse than arriving at someone's home — especially for a fancy, high-society party — and being asked if you mind taking off your shoes. Yes, I mind. It is disgusting and it needs to stop.
People like hosts Suzanne Murphy, a hedge funder type, and Robert Albertson, an investment banker, should be ashamed of themselves. My stomach actually turned this morning when reading that they invited scads of people to their all-white apartment and insisted they take off their shoes before entering. First of all, if you want your life to be pristine, perfect, and polished, what the fuck are you doing living in an all-white apartment and then inviting people over? Anyone with a white MacBook knows that it looks sleek for about a week before using it turns it the opaque yellow of smoker's curtains. The same thing is true of your white furniture, floors, walls, and carpet, whether or not we are physically degraded by having to take off our shoes when entering your house.
We understand the impulse (and that in some countries it's a cultural imperative), especially in New York where we truck through thousands of unknown substances every day, but that doesn't mean that we want to march around your domicile in our stocking feet. Your floors could be just as grubby as the spit and gum spattered sidewalk. You might have pets or a baby or bed bugs or some unknown fungus that is not even perceptible to the eye. Then it is all over my socks and my bare feet and that is just gross. And what if I have to use the bathroom and someone has bad aim? Nasty!
Also, I picked my shoes to match my outfit. It is part of, as Edie Beale would say, my revolutionary costume for the day. They are probably cute and comfortable. They might have been difficult to get into, requiring some spectacular maneuvering or tons of intricate laces. Now I must suffer the ignominy of trying to wrangle them off and get them back on again without looking like a total asshole. Do you have a shoe horn handy? Is it hanging next to to the door with your dog leash and spare keys? I didn't think so!
Don't get me started on the embarrassment of socks with holes in them. It's like wearing a pair of stockings with a run in the part of the hose covered by the skirt. It would be a travesty if someone saw it, and it's equally disastrous to see my big toe nail popping through an article of clothing I didn't intend anyone to see. And feet get smelly, especially when out of shoes. And cold. My feet get fucking cold, and it is all your fault. Now I have to sit on my feet in some crazy uncomfortable position trying to keep them warm.
Not wearing shoes sucks, especially when it is thrust upon you in some unfamiliar environment. Now that the TSA has ruined the final illusion of glamor once associated with air travel and makes the countless souls at all the airports in the country pace through medal detectors in bare soles, we can prepare by wearing loafers and warm clean socks. When we go over your house for the first time, we don't know that you still haven't gotten over the Japanese affectations due to your semester in Japan. In Suzanne Murphy's defense, she emailed to say that her invitations said "No Shoes," so at least guests were aware what they were getting themselves into and slippers were provided at the door.
Worse than the inconvenience and the gross out factor though is having someone else's rules and life choices thrust upon you. It's like when a large group of people are trying to decide on what to eat and there is one vegan in the group who scowls at the mention of every restaurant besides Tofu Towers in Park Slope. We should all be able to find some common ground where everyone is feels as happy and safe as waking up under the comforter on a cold day. But, please, please, can we find a way to do it in shoes?
[Image via KatieScrapBookLady's Flickr]