I was picking up my eight-year-son from his Sunday School classroom when I noticed something was amiss.
Attired in a spiffy jacket, tie, and slacks, he wasn’t wearing any shoes.
“Where are your shoes?”
“Oh,” he said, looking around the room. “I took them off when I got here.”
He’s never been farther east than Savannah, but this is his innate custom – chunking off his shoes as soon as he comes inside, or goes outside, or gets in a car, or goes to the movies, or, in this case, goes to church.
Being an inquisitive journalist-type, I dug deeper.
“Why do you take off your shoes every time you go inside?”
His answer sounds smart-alecky, but it was delivered matter-of-fact.
“When you’re younger, you’ll understand,” he said.
I chuckled, and do understand, but not because I was once younger. I understand because if I had my druthers – which I’m apparently all out of now – I would never wear shoes.
My feet like to breathe. I’ve talked to them about this need of theirs, tried to reason with them, telling them it’s not normal or accepted in my society, but they don’t seem to understand. Perhaps it’s because they have gills. They like to be free of the cloak of fabric or leather or sockage. I am never fully relaxed (my preferred state, by the way), until my feet are bare and unencumbered.
This has led to pain and discomfort, like when I was younger than my son and playing basketball shoeless and stepped on a nail. The shot I received on Dr. Chisholm’s pool table that Saturday nearly 40 years ago convinced me of the value of wearing footwear outdoors. It’s a lesson I’m reminded of frequently because my present-day TV room is where I received that shot.
I’ve discussed my history of barefooted calamities with my youngest son. He nods, and acts like he understands. Then I find him practicing football sans shoes. It’ll learn him eventually, as they say down here.
Meanwhile, I labor through day after day, forced to cover my feet against their will. It shouldn’t be this way. Why can’t we live in a utopia where footwear isn’t necessary?
Really, the problem isn’t people like me – folks who merely don’t like wearing shoes. There are many great Americans who also preferred not to be restricted by footwear – Johnny Appleseed, Huckleberry Finn, Jethro Bodine, Moses, Honey Boo Boo’s father, Scooby Doo – just to name a few. The issue is that there is too much litter and hot pavement and people dropping anvils and other heavy items in our society. They are the real culprits who are curbing our freedoms, not fellow barefoot enthusiasts.
Son, I’m not getting any younger. But I still understand the joyful liberty of being barefoot. Stay barefoot, my friends.
© Len Robbins 2012