2.21.2006

feet

In comments here, Lone Primate drew my attention to a fundamental difference between Canadians and Americans previously unknown to me. I had seen this behaviour in Canada but didn't realize it was an important cultural trend. Forget health care, forget empire, we're talking shoes in the house. The conversation, with some additional thoughts about food.
[Lone Primate]

When you get down to the granular level, Canadians and Americans are really, fundamentally pretty similar. But this is one of the few genuine cultural differences I've observed between Canadians and Americans on a daily-living level: Americans don't cook; they don't even eat at home if they can avoid it. I don't mean that absolutely, of course, but far, far more than I notice to be the case here. Canadians, in my experience, typically have their favourite dishes and prepare them at home; they might eat out one or two evenings a week, and often it's something social. Ditto lunch: I've found most of my co-workers, who aren't poor by any means, generally brown-bag lunch, and go out as a group about once a week.

But my experiences in the US are entirely different. Some time ago I spent about a month with various friends in Los Angeles, and all the time I was there, I could count the number of home-cooked, even home-eaten, meals on both hands. At one place, it amounted to once. At another, "home cooked" consisted of broiled chicken breasts... period. Well, and beer. That was the side dish. :)

Other visits to other places or on business have convinced me that while my LA experience was probably extreme, it's not that far from the norm. I've also noticed that most US supermarkets have terrible selections of produce. And yet, most of ours this time of year comes from the US. My only conclusion is that in the US, producers are selling mostly to restaurants and food preparation places, and dumping the dregs on the supermarkets, since cooking is becoming a rarity in the US. I'm at a loss to explain the difference in cultures in this aspect, but to me, it's a real indicator of what side of the border I'm on. Well, that, and the fact that people in the US wear their shoes in the house. Man, that's like Invasion of the Body Snatchers weird. :)

[Me]

Your observations [about cooking at home vs eating out] definitely apply to NYC and L.A., but I don't know if they do to the rest of the country. They might - I'm not sure.

New Yorkers and Los Angelenos are notorious for hardly ever cooking, and both cities have lousy produce in supermarkets (although excellent produce in specialty markets).

But in smaller cities and throughout suburbia, the supermarkets are rich with wonderful produce. I don't know about cooking, though. There is a lot of restaurant going, that's for sure.

Shoes in the house? Funny! We always wore them in NY - but we had hardwood floors. Here we have carpeting, and we wear slippers. But we noticed that everyone who comes over - the landlord, the heating oil guy, the next-door neighbour - all take their shoes off as soon as they walk in. Is it living in a country with a lot of snow?

I've found most of my co-workers, who aren't poor by any means, generally brown-bag lunch, and go out as a group about once a week.

This is definitely different. When I worked in an office, I usually brought lunch to save money and eat better - food is SO expensive in midtown Manhattan. But I was a rarity. Most of my co-workers went out to lunch every day. I was amazed at how much ordinary office-workers would drop on lunch every day.

[LP]

Shoes in the house? Funny! We always wore them in NY

First time I can remember being aware of this was watching The Brady Bunch when I was about five. I noticed Bobby wearing his sneakers as he came down the stairs. To me, this was like wandering around in a snowsuit. But even at that age, I was grasping for explanations, and I decided it was because it was a TV show: that Bobby was wearing shoes because he was an actor on a set. But no, later on, I realized it's typical for people in the States to just wander through the house with their shoes on... There's a line in Huey Lewis and the News's song Bad Is Bad that still makes my eye twitch: "There's a strange pair of shoes underneath the bed." How the hell did shoes get all the way upstairs? You might as well sing "There's a strange garden hose underneath the bed." :)

I really don't know what the essential difference is, but I suspect you're right; it's probably to do with the weather. Whatever it is, it sets its mark, though... my first impression someone's low class is if they traipse through someone's home with their shoes on, and I don't think I'm alone in that in this country.

[me]

"There's a strange pair of shoes underneath the bed." How the hell did shoes get all the way upstairs? You might as well sing "There's a strange garden hose underneath the bed." :)

This is so funny! Those lyrics draw from a long tradition of blues and R&B songs that note whose shoes are under the bed. Shoes under the bed, obviously, equal who's in the bed. It's like "How come my dog don't bark when you come around?"

Women will say, "He can put his shoes under my bed anytime," as a semi-risque-without-being-graphic way of saying mmmmyummy.

Now it turns out this is not universal. Who knew!

my first impression someone's low class is if they traipse through someone's home with their shoes on, and I don't think I'm alone in that in this country.

OMG. Thank you for warning me. I may have already looked like a hillbilly! Hopefully I will not do it again.

Let me ask you this, then. Does everyone wear slip-on shoes? What do you with big lace-up boots?
My cultural odyssey never ends.

68 comments:

Marnie said...

At last, a serious cultural discussion! :) I'm always in socks or bare feet in the house. (This includes my workplace, which is under the same roof.) My mother doffs her outside shoes and dons inside ones, or washes the soles of the ones she's been wearing outside and puts them back on indoors. For her it's a dirt issue; for me, comfort. How can you tuck your feet up and get comfy on the couch if you have shoes on? Those hard soles don't fit with my lounging lifestyle. I'm also a quiet person, and don't like to clomp around the house.

Do US delivery-persons and handy-persons slip on those little disposable booties when they're working in US houses?

Ferdzy said...

Heh, I used to post on a recipe site, and I remember once they had a HUGE spat over shoes on/shoes off between the Americans and the Canadians; it was quite funny.

Mind you, shoes off. Definitely. ;)

I definitely own a pair of "landlord" shoes that slip on and off easily for when I know I will be going into people's houses. As for my lace-up boots; if I go inside then off they have to come. It's a pain, but thems the rules.

L-girl said...

I definitely own a pair of "landlord" shoes that slip on and off easily for when I know I will be going into people's houses.

Every time our landlord comes over - no matter what the weather - he is wearing docksiders without socks. It has been amazing me all along. And now I learn it's a national trend! Wow.

Scott M. said...

Marnie and Ferdzy are right, there are only three options inside a house year-round.

Inside shoes (which do not go out), slippers (which, oddly enough, can go out but better be clean), or socked feet. No bare feet in someone else's house. That means no wearing flip-flops or sandals if you intend on visiting friends unless you bring inside footwear or have special dispensation.

Any other combination will result in embarassment and ridicule. That's just the way it is.

--> As a side note, you're lucky that the olympics are on this February and you aren't being assaulted with RRSP information (or you might be panicking right now based on the advertisments alone). Good news is you don't have any contribution room until your first tax return is filed and it only applies to the next tax year (obviously).

On the topic of taxes... if you pulled in enough contract payments (not tax withheld) last year you will by default be forced to pay tax on an installment basis this year based on last year's income. If you start a job where they are witholding this year or have a major change in the amount of income (up or down) you need to send them a note with your taxes and anytime thereafter to get them to adjust things otherwise you will be overpaying. Just a thought.

L-girl said...

How can you tuck your feet up and get comfy on the couch if you have shoes on?

You don't! You take them off for that, of course. I personally live on the couch with the back-against-pillow-on-armrest method, in socks or bare feet.

But what about when you have to keep going in and out of the house? My whole life is in and out of the house. Shoes on, shoes off, shoes on, shoes off. I'm doing it(because of the carpet), but I don't like it.

Those hard soles don't fit with my lounging lifestyle. I'm also a quiet person, and don't like to clomp around the house.

I wear sneakers. They don't clomp. And their soles are soft.

Do US delivery-persons and handy-persons slip on those little disposable booties when they're working in US houses?

Please tell me you are joking.

Wangmo said...

Definitely shoes off. Partner has slippers, and I trundle around in my sock feet or barefeet. Yup, even in the winter.

I think the idea is to keep dirt outside, and being a moderately keen housekeeper (read not) I like to minimize unnecessary work. However, living in Montreal it's a little ridiculous in the summer with the windows wide open and all that nice big city grit flying in, it then seems a little pointless to take one's shoes off. But it does mark the end of the work day in a nice way, come home and take your shoes off, ahhhhhh.

Wrye said...

Socks are most common, certainly, and I've never seen slip-ons provided to guests in this country*. While the weather/dirt origin makes sense, I don't see why that applies to us and not the US. It may have a rural origin. My fiance's folks all like shoes in the house, and I tell ya, it creeps me out.

*in Japan, of course, slip-ons are required, so Canadians never have much trouble with the "outside shoes" concept over there. In their case, though, I believe there's a Shinto belief about uncleanliness of the feet going on as well as the normal worries about ice and snow.

L-girl said...

Partner has slippers, and I trundle around in my sock feet or barefeet. Yup, even in the winter.

We are the same. :) I'm the slippers person.

No bare feet in someone else's house.

Hmm. My landlord, who is Canadian (here since age 5), is only barefoot in the house.

Scott M, thanks for the tax tips. I would never panic about something like an RRSP, that's just not me. But in general, I'm not inclined to discuss this stuff in public. Thanks again.

L-girl said...

While the weather/dirt origin makes sense, I don't see why that applies to us and not the US.

Good point. I was thinking snow and slush, but there's plenty of that in plenty of places in the US.

No one has yet answered this question: what do you do when you have to go in and out in rapid succession? You constantly take your shoes off and put them back on?

Scott M. said...

No one has yet answered this question: what do you do when you have to go in and out in rapid succession? You constantly take your shoes off and put them back on?

Indeed. Say you're barbequing out back. You keep a pair of boots just outside the door in good weather, on the mat inside in bad weather, and you slip in and out of them as needed. You don't do them up, of course.

[marnie]Do US delivery-persons and handy-persons slip on those little disposable booties when they're working in US houses?
[L]
Please tell me you are joking.


About what? It's common for delivery people and tradesmen to have little booties (overshoes) which they slip on when they go into peoples houses to avoid damaging the floors.

Wrye said...

You constantly take your shoes off and put them back on?

Normally, sure, unless it's unusual circumstances like moving furniture or something. Remember that shoes are all right in the foyer or porch, too. The key point is to minimize shoe/carpet contact, however you do it.

Scott M. said...

Normally, sure, unless it's unusual circumstances like moving furniture or something. And even then you tend to put down a temporary runner or something.

L-girl said...

Wow. I have never heard of or seen booties/overshoes for tradespeople, delivery people or the like. Never! I really thought Marnie was joking.

When our cable was installed, and when the movers came, they didn't use those. Good thing, cause that early on, I would have had total culture shock!

We do have a plastic runner in between our front door and the stairs leading to the back door, making it easier for us go in and out with minimal carpet contact. (Back stairs have cheapo indoor-outdoor carpeting.) But wow, this is really different!

We're having a big party in June (to which you will all be invited, when the time comes). I was thinking it would be both indoor and outdoor, and I will not expect everyone to keep taking their shoes off and on.

Must run for now. This is fascinating!

Marnie said...

I'll often step out onto the deck or the front walk in my bare feet. So my feet may get a little dirty, no biggie. If it's more than a minute or two, I'll just slip on the shoes by the door.

What if you're getting up from the couch and sitting back down again a bunch of times? (Need a glass of water, phone rings, forgot your book, let the dog out, get a snack, up down up down ...) Do you keep taking off your shoes or slippers and putting them back on?

Even running shoes are too clompy for me, with my floors of hardwood, laminate or ceramic tile. I'm a cat at heart.

The plumber who was here last week wore the little slip-on booties. Tres chic! (But not the loser plumbers who came the following day to dig up the basement. They put down a flimsy layer of plastic on the shiny wood steps -- most dangerous thing I ever saw, really -- but it was kicked to one side before long. They didn't even pretend to cover the rest of the floor, just tracked large quantities of mud over it. Maybe they don't make booties to cover serious work boots.)

James said...

This explains those odd looks I get from American friends when I tell them, "Don't worry about taking your shoes off" when they come by the house.

As for going in and out -- I wear laceless, slip-on shoes and boots almost exclusively. So I just pop those on and off.

Wrye said...

Almost forgot,

What do you with big lace-up boots?

Not to worry, they just stay in the bedroom for special occasions, of course.

L-girl said...

What if you're getting up from the couch and sitting back down again a bunch of times? (Need a glass of water, phone rings, forgot your book, let the dog out, get a snack, up down up down ...) Do you keep taking off your shoes or slippers and putting them back on?

By the time I'm doing this (which I do, constantly), I'm done running in and out for the day, and I'm only wearing slippers (in winter) or sandals (in summer). So then, yes, I slip them off and on every time I get up. I hated walking barefoot on hardwood floors, which we had in NYC, and I also wanted to keep my feet clean, as they'd later be on the couch and in bed. So yes, off and on with slippers and sandals. Still do that. :)

This explains those odd looks I get from American friends when I tell them, "Don't worry about taking your shoes off" when they come by the house.

Exactly! They are thinking, worry about wha...?

L-girl said...

What do you with big lace-up boots?

Not to worry, they just stay in the bedroom for special occasions, of course.


LOL, good one, belongs in our other discussion, of course. :)

I meant outdoor boots, for snow and cold weather.

Scott M. said...

I meant outdoor boots, for snow and cold weather.

Surely you're not suggesting you'd wear your snow boots throughout the house...?

Boots that are wet, muddy or snowy are put on a boot mat like this one to dry.

doggerelblogger said...

My perspective on the whole "you have no manners if you wear shoes in the house" is a little different. My dad's waspy family always wore their shoes in the house. Why, it was part of your whole ensemble! And my grandmother would not be caught dead in stocking feet (because, of course, she was always dressed to the 9's).

My mother's family, on the other hand, are hardworking Ukrainian immigrants (I am the first generation born here) and they NEVER wore shoes in the house, going so far as to take a pair of slippers visiting.

East vs. West? Maid vs. No Maid?

Scott M. said...

I find the safe bet is ALWAYS to take your shoes off and wait until someone says you don't have to.

Lorna said...

When my friends come over to my house in Atlanta they will inform any first timers to take their shoes off. 'She's Canadian' they'll explain. I explained to someone how my Mum takes a pair of inside shoes to parties to change into after leaving her boots at the door. The next time they came over they brought another pair of shoes to wear inside and couldn't get over how witty and hilarious they were being. I was just glad. :-)

As for carpets vs. hardwoods I would never make that distinction in one surface being more worthy of protection than another. After all, one little grain of gravel caught in the tread of your shoe could trash your hardwoods!

The matter of asking guests in your home to adopt this is something that I find troubling. As the hostess do I forgo my personal comfort and not mention the shoe thing, which leaves me cringing the entire evening as they walk around OR do I just speak up and ask my guests to observe the tradition of my house?

Wrye said...

Put a big ass shoe rack in the foyer for the party and just tell them to leave their shoes there at the same time you're telling them what to do with their coats. (Or potluck dishes, or keys, depending on what kind of party it is). They'll go along with it.

James said...

As for carpets vs. hardwoods I would never make that distinction in one surface being more worthy of protection than another. After all, one little grain of gravel caught in the tread of your shoe could trash your hardwoods!

When we replaced the floors in the house I grew up in, my uncle the lumberman (Peter Thomson and Sons Lumber) provided us with a truckload of cherry to use. The floors are a gorgeous deep red-brown.

We rented the house to a couple for a year when we were living in Boston while my father was on sabatical. Unfortunately, the woman in the couple insisted on wearing stilletto heels in the foyer. The floor is now pockmarked from it. Fortunately, she did take her shoes off to go deeper into the house!

Marnie said...

Wrye's house is starting to sound very interesting, with the high laced boots and the bowl of keys in the foyer ...

L-girl said...

Oh yes, Wrye's life has always intrigued me... :)

Hardwood floors: if I were wearing heels - a rarity, but it does happen - I wouldn't walk around on my hardwood floors in those. I would put them on right before leaving the house. But since most of my life is lived in sneakers, I thought that was fine for our wood floors.

Work boots: they needn't be muddy or snow-covered. If they are, I'd certainly have removed them. They can be clean, but a whole production to take off and put back on.

Guests: They should observe the customs of any household, and it's never wrong of the host to ask them to. Assuming the host is not a rule-crazy control freak. (No Allan, I am not! :) )

And finally, I wonder if this has something to do with house vs apartment living? Maybe not, but I find it much easier to maintain in-home-shoelessness here as compared to in our old apt in NYC.

L-girl said...

When my friends come over to my house in Atlanta they will inform any first timers to take their shoes off. 'She's Canadian' they'll explain. I explained to someone how my Mum takes a pair of inside shoes to parties to change into after leaving her boots at the door. The next time they came over they brought another pair of shoes to wear inside and couldn't get over how witty and hilarious they were being. I was just glad. :-)

This speaks volumes. It's definitely a US vs Canadian thing, and sorry folks, I don't find the Canadian thing so much better in this case. A little fuss-budgety for my tastes.

But I'm adjusting. :)

L-girl said...

I still don't know what to do about our indoor/outdoor party in June. I'm not going to ask people who are hanging out in the backyard to take their shoes off every time they go inside to pee, or if they want to take a tour of our humble abode. I think I'll just leave it to the individual foot owner.

Wrye said...

A little fuss-budgety for my tastes.

You're still in culture shock, we understand.

I'm not going to ask people who are hanging out in the backyard to take their shoes off every time they go inside to pee, or if they want to take a tour of our humble abode. I think I'll just leave it to the individual foot owner.

That might be an interesting experiment--just observe what your guests do without prompting. If they ask where they can put shoes, have somehwere available, but otherwise don't bring it up. Then just sit back and watch. That'll answer most of your questions right there.

Marnie said...

I don't actually expect people to keep taking their shoes off if they're ducking inside to use the bathroom or whatever. It's like the five-second rule for food hitting the ground: if you're only going to be inside for a few minutes, I couldn't care less what's on your feet. (Obvious exceptions for snow or mud apply.)

I don't see this as a hard-and-fast rule. If somebody's really attached to her shoes, I couldn't care less if she keeps them on. I just find it comfortable not to wear mine in the house.

L-girl said...

That might be an interesting experiment--just observe what your guests do without prompting.

This party could be a grand experiment in US vs Canadian social habits. I'll be having too much fun to take notes, but it will make for a good post mortem.

Anyone still reading this thread, see if you can be in the GTA the weekend of June 17. Details will follow, of course.

redsock said...

I think something important has been overlooked:

Shouldn't every Huey Lewis song make your eyes twitch?

James said...

This speaks volumes. It's definitely a US vs Canadian thing, and sorry folks, I don't find the Canadian thing so much better in this case. A little fuss-budgety for my tastes.

I think this goes back to Canada being founded by Scots... If you think this is fussy, you should have met my Scottish grandmother. She was the sort who folded underwear when she did the laundry. It took my mother decades to get over the neruoses implanted by my grandmother's near-OCD fussyness. (She was also a wonderful lady, and one of the great matriarchs of Creemore, Ontario. Also, one of the founders of the Purple Hills Arts & Heritate Society.)

I think I'll just leave it to the individual foot owner.

"Don't worry about your shoes" usually means (to my mind, anyway) "do whatever makes you feel comfortable". That's why we use it. :)

L-girl said...

I was wondering when Allan would pick up on that. :)

James, I know exactly what you mean. My grandmother - mother's mother, also the matriarch - was also a near-OCD neat-freak. No surprise, her mother (who I knew for much of my young life) was, in her prime, too busy working on her tan at Brooklyn's Brighton Beach to bother with her wildly disheveled household and her five children. Her daughter, my grandmother, turned out as fussy and as straitlaced as they come.

As a child, when I stayed at my grandparents' place, I was awakened at 5:00 a.m. by the sound of Nana dusting the Venetian blinds. I can never remember a speck of dust being present in that home, or one thing out of place, ever. When someone says I'm overly neat, I think of Nana, and say, noooo I'm not...

You can bet no one wore shoes in her house!

Scott M. said...

I still don't know what to do about our indoor/outdoor party in June.

As they come in, just let them know they can keep their shoes on if they like, and Voila! Problem solved.

I find you can't assume you CAN keep your shoes on here and must default to taking them off. If the host interjects, than you're good to go. Host's rule rules.

BTW, just out of curiosity, did you notice any hygine difference between the US and Canada? Either in personal hygeine or in commercial establishments? I know I notice quite a difference when I venture into the States...

L-girl said...

I know I notice quite a difference when I venture into the States...

And that difference is...?

L-girl said...

As they come in, just let them know they can keep their shoes on if they like, and Voila! Problem solved.

Well, I never mention anyone's shoes, because I don't expect anyone to remove them. That concept is still so new to me.

So I think we're back to Wrye's suggestion of no mention at all, and see what people do.

Wrye said...

I once co-authored a comedy sketch which included the suggestion that Huey Lewis is the most average musician of all time. This invariably brought the house down, so I have great affection for the man. It's not like my folks were going to take me to see Rush or Van Halen when I was 12, after all.

Granny said...

Shoes off normally in house. When I worked in S. F., I ate out (cheap) more than I brownbagged mainly to get out of the building. Now we mostly cook and eating out is an occasion.

Do you think I might be a misplaced Canadian at heart?

One of my great-greats was in Canada before the USA. Does that count? He was impressed into the British Navy jumped ship someplace on the Canadian side. Or so I've heard.

Lorna said...

Assuming the host is not a rule-crazy control freak.

Hey, we've never met! How did you know. I'm working on it, I promise.

James said...

James, I know exactly what you mean. My grandmother - mother's mother, also the matriarch - was also a near-OCD neat-freak.

BTW, I forgot to mention that, prior to folding the underwear, my grandmother would iron it.

She did get mellower around age 90.

Nicole said...

My Brit husband is a huge no shoes in the house freak which he gets from his mother.

Bless.

When I put my shoes on and then realize I forgot something upstairs, I feel a sort of subversive glee. "I'm walking in the flat with my shoes on! Bah-HA-HA!"

sharonapple said...

If you wear your shoes all of the time... don't your feet feel claustrophobic? (Says the girl who'd go barefoot it wasn't so impractical.)

teflonjedi said...

Heh, I love it!

Been down here for 10-plus years, and all my shoes are still piled up at the door of my apartment, as they always have been. Whenever I walk about the apartment with my shoes on--rare, in emergencies only--I feel I've violated the sanctity of the home, somehow.

My fiancee (American) is the same way. Perhaps I didn't realize I was picking her in part because of that...??? (Please don't go telling her *that*...)

L-girl said...

She did get mellower around age 90.

My grandmother did, too - but only because she lost her mind to Alzheimer's. That kind of cured the neat compulsion right there. :)

When I put my shoes on and then realize I forgot something upstairs, I feel a sort of subversive glee. "I'm walking in the flat with my shoes on! Bah-HA-HA!"

Shoes - the ultimate rebellion.

If you wear your shoes all of the time... don't your feet feel claustrophobic?

Well, no one wears shoes all the time. But next time I wear shoes in the house, I'll ask my feet how they're feeling. They're US feet, though. Will that make a difference?

L-girl said...

My fiancee (American) is the same way. Perhaps I didn't realize I was picking her in part because of that...??? (Please don't go telling her *that*...)

[Dialing...] Hello, M? You don't know me, but there's something I have to tell you...

L-girl said...

Do you think I might be a misplaced Canadian at heart?

Granny: you are. That's obvious to us all.

Bradley Cooper, Winemaker said...

Lace up work boots are for wankers. I solved that problem with a pair of Blundstones from down under. As for in the house, sure, you can wear your shoes if you want. But I won't offer you any pie or wine because, obviously, your're on your way out, aren't you? Speaking of down under, when I was in New Zealand it was common to see adults and children of all socio-ethno groups grocery shopping in bare feet during the warm months. So I did too.

L-girl said...

when I was in New Zealand it was common to see adults and children of all socio-ethno groups grocery shopping in bare feet during the warm months.

Cool.

Marnie said...

>My Brit husband is a huge no shoes in the house freak which he gets from his mother.

Now I don't know what to think. I told someone about this discussion yesterday and she mentioned the Brits' leaving their shoes on in the house. She said when she visits there people are surprised and even disturbed when she takes off her shoes at the door.

James said...

Been down here for 10-plus years, and all my shoes are still piled up at the door of my apartment, as they always have been.

I was at a busy New Year's party, and getting to the door to leave was quite tricky. Even though I wasn't the first to go, the entire front hall was buried in boots and shoes. And, because of the social circles of the friend hosting the party, some of these boots were major navigational hazards! I could barely get the door open for footwear.

Lone Primate said...

when I was in New Zealand it was common to see adults and children of all socio-ethno groups grocery shopping in bare feet during the warm months.

Cool.


Yeah. As someone who likes to walk barefoot, I'm sorry we don't take more advantage of this in North America than we do. It's not really verbotten to go barefoot in public in North America, but it's definitely out of the ordinary. It seems like it's somehow pushing the limits of 'being comfortable' or 'being yourself' and verging on 'being outrageous to make a statement', which is unfortunate. Especially given how little good weather we have in this part of the continent to enjoy being free of encumbrances, which is why I tend to celebrate it when I can.

L-girl said...

It's not really verbotten to go barefoot in public in North America, but it's definitely out of the ordinary.

It's actually against Board of Health regulations in many US towns and cities, which seems a bit over-the-top to me. In beach towns, diners and other casual eating places are known to hang this sign:
No Shoes
No Shirt
No Service

On a similar note, in many places in Europe, people may bring a dog to a cafe or a pub. All over rural Ireland and England, you'll often see a nice sheep-herding dog hanging out in the local pub with their guy. It's quite common to see dogs in cafes in France. All to no ill effect. Yet this is generally forbidden in the US, against health regulations.

I could barely get the door open for footwear.

This is a great image. :)

M@ said...

Here's a photo from a photoblog I frequent, depicting Canadians in the wild. Shoes off in a public place.

And this isn't uncommon. I was in a group that met for several meetings in a Quaker meeting house, and we dutifully removed our shoes when arriving and leaving. It was ridiculous, but we did it. There were no Quakers around, even, and what were they going to do to us? They're Quakers for god's sake. But there we were, in cold, dirty socks. Took about 10 minutes for the eight of us to clear out afterwards, too, sorting out boots in the tiny foyer.

As for the social experiment concerning the L-Girl summer party, I think it will be difficult to get an unbiased sample if the shoes of other visitors are in sight. The first person to take their shoes off will lead to everyone doing it -- lest one offend the host, of course.

This is yet more material covered by the old saw, "It only takes one Canadian to ruin the fun for everyone."

Wangmo said...

Here's a photo from a photoblog I frequent, depicting Canadians in the wild. Shoes off in a public place.

[snip] Took about 10 minutes for the eight of us to clear out afterwards, too, sorting out boots in the tiny foyer.


True. I'm part of a Buddhist community and when the entire community gets together there's often more than 500 people in the shrine room, which translates into 500 pairs of shoes at the entrance. It's common for people to email the listserv after the event asking about accidental shoe exchanges, or sometimes even coats.

Lone Primate said...

It's actually against Board of Health regulations in many US towns and cities, which seems a bit over-the-top to me. In beach towns, diners and other casual eating places are known to hang this sign:
No Shoes
No Shirt
No Service


Actually there's been research on this and it's effectively an urban myth. Check out New York's response, for instance. It's within the rights of any establishment to institute a dress code requiring footwear (among other things), but interestingly, doing so on the basis of posting "by order of the board of health" notices constitute misrepresentation of the law and are themselves technically illegal.

Scott M. said...

It's actually against Board of Health regulations in many US towns and cities, which seems a bit over-the-top to me. In beach towns, diners and other casual eating places are known to hang this sign:
No Shoes
No Shirt
No Service


You're right, it's a bit over the top for towns and cities to regulate that.

Here, we regulate it at the provincial level. :)

Daniel wbc said...

I am American by birth, hope to be Canadian by choice and I say ... No shoes in the house! I've always been this way. (And I've converted the husband.)

The issues arise when we have guests or when we are guests. I feel rude keeping shoes on, but it could seem rude to take them off. In our home, I just hope folks will take the hint when they see us taking off our shoes -- and if they don't I just cringe the whole time.

I was in heaven when I lived in Hawaii because no indoor shoes is the cultural norm. (Well that, and it is rather pretty there ...) I did not know this about Canada but, I tell you, it just adds a huge plus to an already long list!

BTW ... received our AOR yesterday!

L-girl said...

As for the social experiment concerning the L-Girl summer party, I think it will be difficult to get an unbiased sample if the shoes of other visitors are in sight.

I don't know... I doubt our Americans friends and family would take their shoes off unless it was wet and muddy outside (which it damn well better not be!). Especially if people are going back and forth indoors and out, I can't see any of them being so concerned with offending me. They all know I'm not easily offended. :)

This is yet more material covered by the old saw, "It only takes one Canadian to ruin the fun for everyone."

Is this really a saying, or did you just make it up? You have to be careful about these things around me, you know!

It's common for people to email the listserv after the event asking about accidental shoe exchanges, or sometimes even coats.

This is great.

L-girl said...

No Shoes
No Shirt
No Service

Actually there's been research on this and it's effectively an urban myth.


Really??? Are you sure? I'll follow your link. I'm very intrigued.

L-girl said...

I did not know this about Canada but, I tell you, it just adds a huge plus to an already long list!

:-)

BTW ... received our AOR yesterday!

Congratulations! I've no idea what an AOR is, but I'm off to your blog to find out...

M@ said...

Is this really a saying, or did you just make it up? You have to be careful about these things around me, you know!

Sorry. Made it up. I think it's true though -- Canadians really are sheep when it comes to social situations, I find. Of course there are a lot of Canadians who are very individualistic in social situations, but I maintain that generally Canadians tend to do what they think others want rather than what they want.

I agree that Americans will probably just ignore the shoes at the door and go on in -- but the Canadian sample will be skewed as soon as one pair of shoes appears beside the door.

By the way, if it's a summer thing, you can also watch for people who remove their shoes at the front door, carry them to the back door, and put them back on to go out to the backyard.

National identity, eh?

Scott M. said...

By the way, if it's a summer thing, you can also watch for people who remove their shoes at the front door, carry them to the back door, and put them back on to go out to the backyard.

That's me. Unless, of course, it's only one shoe step to the back door, in which case I'll cheat (5 second rule).

Scott M. said...

Unless, of course, I can find the gate to the backyard in which case I'll go around.

Lone Primate said...

Is this really a saying, or did you just make it up?

Sorry. Made it up.


Really? I thought the Germans did in WWI. :)

bahasani said...

Interesting...my grandma is insulted if people leave their shoes at the door, "My floors ain't good enough for ya feet?!" I'm from the South so it may be different elsewhere (I know it's different here in Arizona).

BTW..love the site and might make the move myself :).

The duck thief said...

Funny you should mention shoes in the house.

I'm all the way over in BC and in the Interior, where I'm from, people take their shoes off in the house but on the coast, people keep thier shoes on.

I always thought it was so weird when I went to visit relatives on the coast. I mean, wouldn't their floors and carpets get really dirty?

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Canadians have the right idea.

Here in the UK most people wear shoes at home and have filthy houses.

Removing shoes keeps out dust and other nasty stuff.