Monday, January 26, 2015

Rock Those Booties

My mother and stepfather, appalled to see me barefoot in their 80-degree fully-carpeted house, immediately found me a pair of these, the one constant and bane of my childhood and still haunting  me in adulthood, whenever I visit and even when I don't, because they surface too in my mother's scary Christmas packages: knitted house slippers. Sometimes they're crocheted. Doesn't matter; they're all psychotically handmade by old women using synthetic and non-absorbent yarn in hideous colors, are terribly slippery to wear on smooth surfaces, never fit, and are ugly as sin. (Why the decorative ties?) They are meant to warm the feet. They prove only that it's true that feet sweat at a rate of a quart a day. And that the wearer never expects to have sex ever again.

These slippers go back, historically, to the rural and pre-sidewalk admonition "Take off your shoes at the door," but I also associate them with central and southern European immigrants and Americans from the Depression era, who were practical, poor, had skills now obsolete, and to whom "barefoot" signified not only poverty but a lack of class. I had formal knitting lessons when I was 10, at a Sears store to which I was sent by bus. I never got the knack of knitting, although forced to knit an hour a day so as to justify my mother's investment in my skill set. Thus I do know that this pair, modeled by myself (in my giraffe-print pajamas), are knitted (in stockinette stitch) rather than crocheted. I think. See you in the nursing home.

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