Sunday, January 4, 2009
Heels on your hardwood floor
A friend and I were talking recently about parties in people's homes. For the most part, a get-together at someone's house is a lot of fun--good company, good conversation, good food, and my personal favorite, board games.
The thing about going to someone's home, though, is that you have to follow their rules. If they have kids, you can't exactly play strip poker. If they're vegetarian or don't drink, it's unlikely you'll be having hot dogs or beer.
And if they ask you to take your shoes off, you have to comply.
I've never had a problem with the no-shoe rule. In fact, I almost expect that I'll be walking around in my socks when I visit a person's house for the first time. If they've just put down new floors, who am I go traipsing through their living room in my Uggs? (Note: I don't own Uggs.) If they live an apartment building, of course they don't want people stomping around in heels. And I even humor the "we have kids and god knows what you drag in from the street" excuse. It's your house, I'm just a guest.
But a line must be drawn somewhere. There are instances when asking guests to remove their shoes is rude and/or tacky. And that line gets drawn when your guests show up in ties and gowns.
A couple of years ago, I accompanied a friend to his co-worker's house for a "formal gathering." The event was at a big, fancy house on Long Island and the attire was not casual: my date wore a suit and tie, and I had on a cocktail dress and high heels. We arrived at the house and were immediately asked to remove our shoes. I remember hesitating for a moment and fighting the urge to ask the hostess if she was kidding--she definitely was not. We left our shoes by the door and I spent the next three hours in my stockings.
Now let me tell you something--being barefoot at a friend's house is a lot different than being barefoot at a party filled with strangers. For one thing, you're usually sitting on the couch at a friend's house, not walking around a mansion with tiled floors. For another, you're not wearing a party dress and pantyhose while shaking hands with business executives. You want to know what awkward is? Awkward is watching your date make nice with a bigwig attorney while you compare toenail polish with his wife. Awkward is trying not to laugh when you see a drunk woman in a short dress fall a flight of hardwood stairs. Awkward is taking your pantyhose off in a stranger's bathroom because they have multiple runs from being snagged on the floors. The only way that party could have been more awkward is if the host handed out slippers at the door. (And don't doubt for a minute I wouldn't have worn a pair. I hate cold feet.)
No one should ever have to endure that kind of awkward. Guests shouldn't feel like they're at a hotel after party with their boss while in your home. Someone will inevitably forget to wear their good socks and be embarrassed to remove their shoes. And that chick who's 5'2"? I'm sure she doesn't appreciate having to take her heels off. So please. Before you ask people to remove their shoes at your next party, ask yourself one question: do you enjoy the feel of creamed lobster and cheese squished between your toes? Chances are your guests don't, either.