Streets of Fire

Some things written by Jeff Kelley, a man in Richmond, Va. He likes aircraft carriers but doesn't really know the intricacies of them (weight, length, etc.)


Shoes, socks, bare feet. When I walk into someone’s home and don’t know their domestic habits, my eyes turn to their feet. If they’re wearing shoes, I’ve just stepped into a nightmare.

A shoed homeowner means I need to keep my shoes on while indoors, too. To seem polite. “Make yourself at home,” they’ll say, Reeboks hogtied snug around their feet as they prance into the kitchen. “Can I get you anything?”

"Permission to take off my shoes?" is how I want to reply. But of course, I just say, "I’m great, thanks." And then we proceed to catch up in the kitchen for half an hour, standing up on our fully shoed feet, juiceless and crackerless because I was too bashful to ask for anything. And we aren’t even cooking or doing anything food-related. We’re just standing there in the kitchen, talking about weather or someone’s sick aunt, while the sofa and ottoman in the nearby living room taunt me from afar. "Sit down and rub on us with your bare feet," they seem to say. And I want to rub my bare feet on them. I really do.

I enjoy being barefoot indoors whenever possible. Hot or cold. It maybe goes back to being born, and how, for most people, you aren’t wearing shoes or socks when that happens. That would be weird if people were. “It’s a boy,” the doctor says, “and he came with the new Air Jordans.”

Close friends understand my shoes-off practice. I’ll slip off my slip-ons (I hate laces) at their front door, even if they are partial to keeping their shoes on inside. If my friend is really close, after I remove my shoes I’ll take it upon myself to turn off all the harsh overhead lighting within my immediate vicinity and turn on the softer lamps, in order to truly make myself feel at home. I’d want the same for them, and overhead lighting is something I despise more than being forced to wear shoes indoors. Particularly if that lighting is in a kitchen, and we are standing around in it talking but not cooking, without juice or crackers, while wearing shoes - all this, despite the living room and its more conversational and relaxing sofa-based setup nearby.

Speaking of sofas, let me tell you another aspect of your house that I don’t like: a couch that is arranged perpendicular fashion to the television, such that your head must be cocked to the left or right in order to watch it. It’s alarming to imagine a scenario where I’d have to watch the Kardashians in such a manner, especially if I was also forced to keep my shoes on my feet at the time, as an overhead light grated my eyes. And what if this person also didn’t have a high-definition TV, or a coffee table or ottoman to rest my already-uncomfortable shoed feet on, or didn’t naturally make juice and crackers available to guests, or only watched cake shows or Lifetime or soccer? I trust I’ll never be friends with someone who makes me live through that. 

"Why no socks?" people ask as they point to my toes, wiggling around freely without any unnatural encumbrances. "Don’t your feet get cold?"

"No, I’m fine," I reply. But if I really wanted to get into it with them I could ask why, if they wear socks or shoes indoors, they don’t wear gloves, too. But I wouldn’t want to seem rude.

  1. davio1962 reblogged this from jephkelley and added:
    JephKelley is doing that thing again where he’s being all funny and whatnot.
  2. lafix said: Amen, sister.
  3. jephkelley posted this