Happy Feet | April 6, 2022

It’s springtime; and naturally, every passageway into our home is littered with the muddy shoes of our children and their friends.  Of course, even if they were clean as a whistle those shoes would still be there – because every single North Dakotan is taught from birth to 1) never take the last item in a shared food situation; 2) have a “Well, that’s the way she goes” attitude towards the Minnesota Vikings; and 3) always remove their shoes when entering someone’s house.

The “No Shoe Rule” is so ingrained in our culture that our oldest son recently accepted his North Dakota birthright of keeping his sneakers permanently tied to the loosest state so that he can just step on the back of his heel and pull them off (and then back on) quickly – as has generations of his fellow statesmen have done before him.

It’s also so ingrained that it’s very difficult to negate, even when specifically instructed to do so.  North Dakotans have a tough time contradicting something if they feel it may hurt another person’s feelings.  For example, the “Never take the last item in a shared food situation,” rule comes with an asterisk, which is “…unless someone specifically demands you take it, and then you must put it on your plate regardless if you actually want it or not.”  The “No Shoe Rule” probably came into play in the 1950s, when luxury was spelled C-A-R-P-E-T.  Recent interior trends have moved away from wall-to-wall in favor of “If it’s not wood, it’s vinyl” – two flooring products which can be wiped off with a wave of the Swiffer.  Regardless, we North Dakotans stand firm in our socks.

Two of our (grown-up) friends popped over the other day, stepping into our wood floor-clad entry.  Naturally, they leaned over to remove their footwear.

“You don’t need to take your shoes off,” I said, without thinking.

“Oh, okay,” the wife said – stalled, half-bent down towards her feet.

We all stood/bent there blinking for a good five-count before the husband took off his shoes and the wife took off her shoes and I silently berated myself for suggesting something so ridiculous.

The whole no-shoe thing is such an interesting behavior, as it toes the line of politeness and oversharing – because socks are pretty intimate, aren’t they?  I’d say 50% of all North Dakotans at a gathering of their closest friends and family won’t take off their coats, and yet will go down to an undergarment amongst strangers without a second thought.  The thing is, not wearing shoes dramatically reduces the formality of any situation, which is a very North Dakota thing to do.  I can almost guarantee you that at least one North Dakotan has stepped foot into the White House and had a split-second thought to take off their shoes and then considered, “You know, I’m here for a business meeting and so I guess my feet should also mean business.”  (And then went back to the car to leave their “It’s 5:00 somewhere” can koozie that they also had in their pocket.)

As a semi-shoeless culture, you’d think we’d have some general “Don’t go out without clean underwear” guidelines as a result – like, “Don’t go over to someone’s house without new patterned socks that best reflect your personality” or “Always check your socks for holes in case you happen to get invited in for a Mountain Dew.”  But we don’t.  Just as we are fine with attending a funeral memorial in bare feet (I take off my socks on the first plus-40 day and don’t put them on again until about November), we also don’t care about the state of our garments, or lack thereof.

Recently, I have seen an increase of people who bring “inside” shoes with them to a house, which is really the best of both worlds.  There’s an untapped retail market for Social Slippers just waiting to be slipped off.  In the meantime, this is my reminder that I need to get a pedicure.

My good sport of a husband agreed to be my photo model, above.  He actually put ON his shoes because he wanted it titled, “Living the East Coast Life” because my mom’s side of the family never, ever takes off their shoes.  It’s funny that he, of all people, is now on the photographic record wearing shoes on the couch – because Canadians like saying sorry more than North Dakotans like taking off their shoes, and when we finished taking the photo, he apologized to the couch.

This week’s news has a long-awaited prom, maple sugaring, and a brand-new camper.  Read on.


Watford City’s Dakota Wollan took his great-grandmother to her very first prom. (Valley News Live)

After a two-year pause due to COVID, North Dakota’s Honor Flights are ready for takeoff… (KFYR TV)

…Starting with the first-time Western North Dakota Honor Flight, which is bringing 93 veterans to Washington D.C. (Bowman County Pioneer)

You can learn all about maple syrup at this year’s sugaring event at Fort Stevenson State Park on Saturday. (Valley City Times-Record)

Congratulations to the Dickinson State Cheer Team, who took 4th place at the NAIA National Championship tournament! (Dickinson Press)

Minot’s Catori Sarmiento has published her third book, a young adult novel entitled, “Darkness in a Sky of Embers.” (Minot Daily News)

Eight-year-old Findley Dickey of South Heart is about to go on a LOT of camping (and fishing) trips. (Dickinson Press)

Bismarck’s Mary Tello-Pool – known as Mimi – and her granddaughter, Maria have co-authored a children’s book entitled, “Inside a Snowflake.” (KFYR TV)

Thank you to Area Woman magazine for including my story about jogging in the latest issue!  You can find me in the magazine every-other month in 2022…and I promise the next photo of me will be a LOT less wind-blown.  (Area Woman)

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