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Barefoot Sense and Nonsense

January 31, 2012

It seems so easy to be a barefooter. All you have to do is quit wearing shoes.

That’s not hard, right?

It gets a little testy on the hottest days of summer and the coldest days of winter, but otherwise, barefoot is definitely the way to be – for me. And, I think, for many people if they were to think about it.

The hard part about being a barefooter is dealing the nincompoopery.

What is “nincompoopery”? Nincompoopery is the school of thought that prates on about matters as if they are true, even if they are patently false. Practitioners of nincompoopery are aptly called “Nincompoops.”

It seems that those of us living a barefoot lifestyle are magnets for nincompoops. They come out of the woodwork. I hear it all the time:

“Hey! You’re not wearing shoes.” Really? Oopsy. I had’t noticed.

“Don’t you know you can catch cold from not wearing shoes?” Really? Then how do people who wear shoes catch cold?

“You’ll drag in all kinds of germs on your bare feet if you come in here.” Really? I guess people have no germs (or mud or grime or other-such-things) on their shoes when they come in.

It is a test of my Christian spirit when I’m confronted by people like this. Many times I ignore the comments, which I don’t like to do. I don’t like to ignore people. Leah Neustadt once wrote: “There is no harsher sentence than to be ignored.”

Sometimes I get testy: “I’m a 53 year old man. You don’t think I can be responsible for my own welfare?”

There have been times when I’ve been pretty pointed. Once a smoker was standing outside a gas station (of all places) and said, “Seems pretty silly to be running around with no shoes on.”

“Really?” I replied. “It seems pretty silly to me to roll dried leaves in paper and stick them in your mouth, then set it on fire.” The point was well-made.

A friend of mine (Bob Neinast) has recently dealt with the Nth degree of nincompoopery in the Ohio Statehouse. They have formed a rule – specifically for Bob, as I see it – to prevent going barefoot in that building. Even the Columbus, Ohio, Dispatch has weighed in, glibly dismissing Bob and not thinking of how dumb the shoe rule is.

When it takes the time of a government to address a behavior as benign as being barefoot, then I think that government has far too little to worry about.

Shoe-wearers are often concerned with “dangers” of barefooters. “There might be glass or nails or rocks or disease-filled hypodermics laying around,” they say. “I know someone who lost their whole foot to frostbite,” they tell us. “My feet are so sensitive I can’t even walk on carpet,” they opine.

I’ve been at this for going on eight years and I have a response to each concern that a non-barefooter has.

But the primary response is simply a matter of thought. People should think about what they’re saying about bare feet before they speak.

Think about it: What germs could someone with bare feet bring into a restaurant that someone with shoes doesn’t bring in?

Think about it: How much more dangerous are bare feet than high heels? In some articles I’ve read, far more injuries happen to women who fall off heels or twist ankles in heels, or scrunch their toes in pointy heels, than are even possible from going barefoot.

Think about it: If a store is so dangerous as to prevent bare feet (as Wal-Mart and others profess to be), is it really safe for anyone to be in there? Falling glass, shards of rusty metal laying around, poisonous spills everywhere. The Department of Health has bigger concerns – if those really are the issues – than someone going barefoot in a store.

When it comes to being barefoot, I wish people would just leave it rest. Don’t talk about my feet: ask me how I’m doing. Don’t make inane comments: wish me a good day and walk on.

If I come into your store or Church or restaurant with no shoes on, don’t drag out the old “no shirt, no shoes, no service” routine. It’s a falsehood – one of the key tenets of Nincompoopery, I might add – and has little, if anything to do with my business in the store, the Church, or the restaurant.

It really is easy to be a barefooter – I just need to make sure I don’t step in any nincompoopery.


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One Comment
  1. Bob Neinast permalink

    Great article. Extra-great final line! I’ll have to remember that.

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