(FinalCall.com)–If you are not a Muslim follower of the Honorable Louis Farrakhan, and have never visited one of us, you may be totally unfamiliar with the routine of removing your shoes before entering the home of your host. But, on the other hand, you may have encountered the same situation visiting the more civilized among non-Muslims–especially in Chicago. In my files, I ran across a feature article, with pictures in color, which took up a page-and-a-half of the August 29, 1999 issue of THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE, entitled “Shoeless in Chicago.” The sub-head read, “Citing cleanliness, floor care, cultural–even spiritual–concerns, a growing number of people are just saying no to shoes inside the home.”
The opening sentence read, “It protects hardwood floors, it keeps your carpet looking new and it can make your home a quieter place.” The writer, Monica Eng, further notes that “A growing number of Americans are adopting this housekeeping secret that many Asian, Middle Eastern and European cultures have known for a long time.” She quotes an interior designer, to wit, “Lately I’ve noticed young American couples who are very sensitive about their fresh floors. They are trying to protect their newly refinished environments–mostly hardwood floors or marble floors–and so they take off their shoes. I experienced it recently in three different households.” One interior designer is quoted as stating, “I’ve seen a lot of young yuppie men who do it because they don’t want women with heels or wedgies to wreck their wood or marble floors.”
One woman said she instituted the “no-shoes rule” when her landlord installed new light-colored carpeting. “And so I would just take my shoes off when I was inside and, lo and behold, five years later, it was still perfect carpeting.”
Field Museum Anthropologist Madeleine Tudor is quoted as saying, “Outside dirt should be kept outside in a figurative and spiritual sense as well. The dwelling is a sacred space, and so it is important to remove shoes and the outside world before entering.” A well-known Chicago party hostess includes a reminder in her invitations to choose their socks taking into account that they will remove their shoes upon entering. As a result, she too, reportedly has beautiful floors.
One problem which arose was the result of the written rules of a cable company in Chicago, based upon the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s requirement that installers leave their shoes on. They settled it by laying down plastic sheeting or asking the workers to wear booties over their shoes.
The space taken up by the shoes will naturally vary according to the length of the guest list, the space available and the ingenuity of the host and/or hostess. Most experienced hosts agree that the solution which is by far superior is built-in shoe shelves.
As one hostess observed, “When people come in the back way and they see the shoe shelves, they ask right away, if they should take their shoes off.”
As one host observed, “In terms of reducing dirt, it just makes sense.”