Give your guests the right to shoes
By Cindy Hoedel
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | (MCT) ove me, love my shoes.
I may not have a closet full of Christian Louboutins (Manolo Blahnik and Jimmy Choo are so last year), but I'm attached to my party footwear all the same. Attached at the ankle strap, that is. Meaning: If you invite me to your home, I don't want to do a shoe strip tease in the foyer.
Don't make me peel off the peep-toes, dump the pumps, fling off the slingbacks, put the wedges on the ledge, give the boots the boot. I beg you.
Asking guests to remove their shoes is one of those annoying practices that seems to come in and out of vogue. Someone needs to shove a stiletto through its heart once and for all.
Instead, a Web site out of Seattle, floppingfish.com, touts upscale "witty yet authoritative" signs designed to coerce guests into baring their tootsies. Most feature the word "shoes" over a downward-pointing arrow on a graphic background.
Talk about trespassing on good taste. Fancy fonts don't lessen the inherent uptightness of the message.
Of course there are all kinds of solid reasons for wanting to de-shoe guests: Tramped-in dirt can soil rugs and wood floors; rubber soles can leave scuff marks on vinyl and tile; stilettos could leave tiny dents in polyurethane finishes.
But guests are just as likely to transfer pet hair from their clothing to your upholstery, spread germs from the supermarket cart to your sink handles and snag your silk pillows with sequins and zippers. The only surefire way to prevent guests from damaging your property or health is to make them shower and slip into hospital gowns upon arrival.
I subscribe to the Miss Manners theory of friends and possessions. In one of her many indispensable etiquette books, Judith Martin (aka Miss Manners) wrote, and I paraphrase: If your stuff is better than your friends, you need to get different stuff or different friends.
There are other variants of the putting-possessions-first school of entertaining, of course. Hosts who refuse to remove plastic protectors from dining chairs or don't allow guests to consume red wine come to mind. But confiscating footwear is even more egregious in my book.
For one thing, what if your spotless wood floors snag my $20 Donna Karan stockings? Or am I supposed to peel them off, too? And offering me terry-cloth guest slippers or cable-knit slipper socks to wear with my little black dress is a crime against fashion. I don't fork out half a car payment for bling-y sandals so everyone can admire how they look in a basket.
Don't get me wrong: Some of my closest friends have sole-patrol tendencies. I can understand in an abstract way the impulse toward tidiness. Here's my advice to them: Don't put up a sign. Make it clear to guests that your shoe-removal policy is voluntary. And still love me when I'm non compliant.
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Cindy Hoedel is a columnist for The Kansas City Star.. Send a note by clicking here.
© 2007, The Kansas City Star. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.