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August 23, 2007

Shoes off in the house

The arrival of Sayaka, our Japanese houseguest (via Vancouver), has put me back in mind of those little cultural quirks we all possess and would never even notice were it not for someone different to reflect them back to us. Sayaka has been kind enough to keep my reflections to herself today, but I’ve been reminded of back when Stuart and I first met, and I would tell him to just leave his shoes at the door when he came over. And of course I’d take off my shoes when I went to his house, and it was only when his demonic landlady finally blew her top that I realized that my behaviour was considered strange. Not only was she fed up with tripping over my shoes inside her door, but she thought that I took them off in the first place was just bizarre. Stuart admitted he did find it a bit weird when I made him deshoe at my place, but as it was one of a million things he found a bit weird about me, he hadn’t mentioned it. But yeah, now that I mentioned it– English people don’t take off their shoes in their houses!! It never even occurred to me, and I think it’s only a Canadian thing due to climate. Let me tell you though, when we moved to Japan I definitely felt a little cultural affinity. And shoes-off-in-the-house was the only authentically Canadian ritual I could think of that didn’t involve donuts or ice, which was sort of novel.

4 thoughts on “Shoes off in the house”

  1. The Chapati Kid says:

    Awesome! And so true. Shoes off is how it is back home, and when I was told that it was not customary to ask people to remove their shoes at the door, I stopped. But then, I’d see people wearing them in, and my gaze would be drawn to their feet the entire time, tracking over my pretty carpet, dusting up my just-cleaned floor. So I decided, to heck with what’s customary, and I’m back to making people take their shoes off. But never take your shoes off in an old house with hardwood floors unless you want to have holes in every single pair of socks you wear on it.

  2. Jen says:

    Is it weird to take your shoes off at work? I don’t take them off at the door, obviously, but they spend most of their time sat under my desk while I wander round freaking everybody out with my strange feet.

  3. Kerry says:

    I take mine off under my desk too, and presume that the only reason my coworkers don’t mention the smell is because they have no such sense, and not that they’re just polite. And your feet aren’t strange! They’re majestic!

    And CK, I think you can ask people to do whatever you want in your home. Home, of course, in many ways, is a moveable feast, no matter which country you make it at the moment. And I am pleased that our customs so well coincide… I will take note re the old floors though.

  4. Nikki Stafford says:

    I am with you — I ALWAYS take my shoes off in the house, and one of my pet peeves is when my husband doesn’t. (I always blamed him for the offwhite carpets in our last house.) In the house we live in now, the main floor is all hardwood (and new, so no worries about those nails, CK), yet I STILL take my shoes off. It’s just a thing. I’d never walk into anyone’s house with my shoes on. You can invite me over any time! 🙂

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