Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Shoes. Socks. Society.

Ah, Rhexis Rhexis Rhexis.

It's been too long.

In my humble etc, there's been far too much wishy-washy publishing of lyrics and aimless two-paragraph rambles and short, drunken rants about leaving school recently. All the real posts are currently locked away in the monthly archives which I am convinced nobody ever visits. It seems August was a bit of a duff month for long-winded social comments, so in an attempt to stave off continued medicority in this seventh Gregorian twelfth, SABLE X. VEINS HAS RETURNED with a piece set to violently rape and impregnate this month's posts in potentia with his seed of hatred.

It is truly astounding how backward-mindedness and insularity can still exist in supposedly well-connected and communicated society, and in what quite frankly ridiculous ways it is demonstrated.

There seems to be quite a Barney occurring in some isolated regions of the States over shoes. Taking off your shoes when entering (usually someone else's) house. This is apparently regarded as a social minefield. No, I'm not kidding. Go see. I hope you read Dr. Dee's advice; it saves me a lot of raving. Ha, but the idea that some people have to be told is frankly laughable.

+"Would you mind removing your shoes when you come in, please?"
-"I'm sorry? Take off my shoes?"
+"Yes please."
-[thinks] Goodness, what am I to do? I have been asked not to wear my shoes in my host's home! Would it be rude of me to object? I mean, what is she trying to pull here? How could it be that she doesn't want me treading dogshit and dust through her shagpile? Maybe she wants me to -- no no no, surely not -- feel more comfortable? Aha! I'll bet this is some new 'trend' over from Japan -- no-one wears shoes inside there! I saw it on Seinfeld, or something...
+"Stop standing there and come in, for goodness' sake! Shoes go over there."
-[thinks] My, she even has a specific place for the shoes! Oh no, maybe I'm wearing socks with holes in! Whatever will she think of me? I'm sure nobody else ever wears socks with holes in! WHAT AM I TO DO?

You see my point. This really seems to be dilemmic for some of my fellow Americans. What's really laughable is that they actually think that taking off your shoes inside is just some passing Japanese fad, like feng shui. They must long for the days when their floors were so filthy that they had to keep their shoes on. The days when all decent Americans wore their shoes to bed, so you didn't have to worry about putting them on to get in the shower. I am thankful, for once, to be part of a reasoning majority.

Why is it, however, that people take off their shoes in the cinema? By people, I *snort* of course mean "young people". I use that in the ironic rather than condescending sense because, at seventeen, it is difficult and unattractive to patronise your own age group. Nor would I wish to, slave to peer opinion that I am. Where was I?

Ah yes. Why? You've all seen it. Many of you have done it. I don't entirely understand it. The floors in there tend to be a little sticky. Okay, people don't usually put their feet on the floor afterwards, and they put their shoes back on to leave, but the whole phenomenon still puzzles me. I do it sometimes. I don't know why. And that disconcerts me.

I have a theory, related to this. Regarding shoes. It has to do with confidence. When in people's homes in Britain, we tend to take off our shoes. Very few don't. However, I am more uncomfortable taking my shoes off in the house of someone I don't know well, particularly if they are of greater, and therefore more condescending, age. At parties I've been to, people wearing their shoes inside seem to me less secure (not less extrovert, mark you), and I think that this insecurity is the cause rather than the result of them wearing shoes. Psychologically, shoes are a shield. You can run away with your shoes on. You can kick harder with your shoes on. You can walk over broken glass with your shoes on. People who do not need these unconscious social crutches must therefore be more confident, more secure?

Again, this theory is not entirely supported; there are, of course, wallflowers in stocking-feet, and lives-and-souls in their dancing shoes. Perhaps the very act of removing these pyschological shields can cause the insecurity that requires many people to keep them on. This dirties my system somewhat, but cause and effect have always been curiously interwoven, especially in the field of pyschological correlations.

Shoes are also, of course, a status symbol. Cross-trainer vs skate-shoe vs flip-flop vs combat boot... They all carry connotations of social stereotype. Kev, grunger, airhead and goth respectively... I'm sure I don't need to go into this in any sort of detail, it is obvious and comparatively well-documented.

Why do us "young people" take our shoes off in class? It seems the same sort of situation as the cinema. And the same sitting in the park. And aeroplanes; people were taking off their shoes long before there was the DVT scare. Why? Why do we do it? And why is it almost entirely just us young uns? What does it mean?

And socks too. Ankle-socks seem to be the thing at the moment. So it looks like you're not wearing socks, but you don't get trench-foot. Clever. But even ankle-socks today are coming in increasingly interesting designs. Stripes. Cartoons. Colours. Like all socks. The occurrence of stripy/ankle/toe/unmatched/novelty socks is increasing. People expect their socks to be seen. No longer are socks merely an insulating layer beneath the pyschological shield/social self-definer that is THE SHOE, but they are on show now too.

I don't object to any of these phenomena (apart from the sheer stupidity of the uncertain shoe-doffer in the US) but they just seem to me underdocumented and unexplained.

Answers on a postcard.


/Veins


No, wai-hai-hait! Where's my hay-hay-hayt? "I don't object to any of these phenomena"? WHERE'S MY FUCKING CONTROVERSY?


How about this:

Seinfeld is not funny. All right, so they're Jewish, I get it already! (Hmm...)

Flip-flops are not appropriate footwear for anything. Ever. (No, not enough...)

(Aha! Let's try:) Not nearly enough Africans are dying of AIDS.

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