My Lifetime Relationship With Footwear

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At a recent visit to a friend’s house with an in-ground pool, my friend Walter wanted to know why I wore water shoes while in the pool. He made a snide remark about how delicate my feet must be just walking across the lawn.

I informed him that I always wore footwear, especially outside. When inside, I opt for “space boot” type slippers. To me, it’s more than just a habit, it’s a way of life. The bottoms of my feet are delicate and don’t like to step on anything. Besides, I hate stubbing my toe. Many people have adopted the custom of removing their shoes when entering their home, yet they usually provide some form of footwear for themselves or guests.

Here on Long Island, where we have lots of coastlines and beautiful weather, most people go barefoot or choose to wear flip-flops or sandals during the summer. Not me. I never understood the allure of having a post wedged between my toes all day long while a rubber sole slapped at my heel every step I took. Can you think of anything more unsanitary than walking public streets in flip-flops?

I hate walking barefoot. Every step I take without shoes is ruined by the anticipation of stepping on or in something. Even in our own beautifully manicured back yards, there are plenty of things lurking in the grass that can cause you discomfort, pain or sheer disgust. Raise your hand if you’ve never stepped on a slug? If you own a dog, you always need to navigate possible “land mines.”

My father always wore shoes. As a kid, I once asked him why he didn’t go barefoot sometimes in the back yard? “I don’t like to stub my toe,” he answered. And whenever I stubbed my toe as a kid, he would try to ease my pain like a good Dad, but he would smile and point to his shoes.

I choose to wear footwear. I can’t remember the last time I had to yell, “Ewwww…” when stepping on something squishy. I never have to worry about disinfecting my toes. Do I miss the dewy feeling on my bare feet as I stroll across the lawn to get the morning newspaper? Absolutely not.

Humans created footwear for a reason. Caveman Gronk got tired of stubbing his toe in the darkness every morning and picking bramble out of his instep after chasing a potential food source. The last time he stepped into the droppings of a Woolly Mammoth; his wife probably made him stay outside for a week.

My wife loves to be barefoot. If I had a dollar for every time I heard her taking the Lord’s name in vain over a stubbed toe inside the house, well, I’d have a lot of dollars. Like most of you, she’s done the “Hop-on-one-foot Watusi” many times until the pain subsides. I just can’t understand subjecting yourself to that much pain regularly.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my share of the “Hop-on-one-foot Watusi” moments myself over the years. Although I pride myself by learning from my mistakes, I have the occasional lapse of judgment. I’ve had my share of being impaled by Legos left on the floor by my kids.

Just the other day, when absentmindedly walking barefoot in the house, my wife passed a remark about it. I continued to the kitchen but just couldn’t do it. I went back to my comfort zone and put on the space boots. My toes were getting cold.

So, go ahead, giggle and make snide remarks as I confidently enter the pool wearing water shoes, secure in the knowledge I will not have unwanted contact with foreign objects. I will not have any problem walking across those hot paving stones.

Besides, who’s going to get the beer out of the cooler when it’s all the way over there?

Paul DiSclafani, a Massapequa resident, is a 2018 Press Club of Long Island award winning columnist and an Anton Media Group contributor since 2016.

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