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Ross Murray's Border Report
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Ross Murray
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is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at ross_murray@sympatico.ca
Posted 12.24.13
Stanstead, Quebec

ROSS MURRAY

Feet, don't Fête me now

Christmas parties are full of pitfalls -- eating too much, drinking too much, making off-colour remarks, cornering the hostess who's giving off ambiguous signals, losing your pants, losing your pants again, falling into actual pits.

There's no shortage of advice on how to handle yourself at these seasonal gatherings, but one area that's rarely touched are your feet. No one touches your feet, and not just because of your horrid bunions.

Transitioning your feet from outdoors to inside is the great uncharted social conundrum of the season. Maybe not so great, but certainly worth discussing briefly here.

There are two basic types of Christmas parties.

The first is the house party where guests tumble through the front door to greet their host. This method is fine if the tumbling is done in an orderly fashion. Sadly, most hosts don't have the foresight to establish a queue management system prior to their event. Thus most house party arrivals devolve into mass tumbling, which is usually followed by congested bottlenecking, unbalanced body checking and the occasional flagrant bum fondling, depending on the nature of the guests and whether they've had pre-party cocktails.

The bottlenecking is caused by guests having to remove their footwear in the foyer. Coincidentally, "Footwear in the Foyer" was a song by Barry "Brakelight" Robinson that reached No. 14 on the R&B charts in 1958. This has nothing to do with the topic at hand, but barring anything else useful in this article, you will at least have this piece of trivia to take away.

I don't particularly care about the tumbling and the bottlenecking because there's really no avoiding it, plus the occasional flagrant bum fondling can be quite bracing. What happens after the boots come off is where things get tricky.

This is when you have to ask yourself: Am I a person who can traipse around a stranger's house in my sock feet? Or am I a person who brings slippers?

If you're a traipser, plan ahead and bring decent socks, preferably ones that will remain comfortable even after you traipse through the slush that all the bottlenecking and bum fondling has left at the front door. Avoid Hello Kitty socks, even if your wife insists you wear them.

If, on the other hand, you're a slipper person, no need to worry about anyone giving you ambiguous signals because slippers are the least sexy of all the footwear. Your feet, on the other hand, will be warm and dry. So slippers, no slippers, the choice is yours. If you're over 45, however, the choice is pretty much a foregone conclusion.

The second type of Christmas party is the posh public party, or PPP. In this case, the risk of tumbling and bottlenecking is far lower due to the presence of a coatroom and heavily insured objets d'art, which is French for "breakable."

My wife and I were at one such PPP last week where (as Brakelight Robinson sang in his non-charting follow-up) I abandoned my boots in the vestibule. It was the kind of soir&ecute;e that had bacon-wrapped hotdogs and bacon-wrapped water chestnuts, so you knew it wasn't a slipper crowd.

No, sir, there would be no bum fondling at this party, or if there was it would be highly discreet and later covered up. I felt pretty confident in my sock choice -- classic, hole-less, good grip to prevent me from objet-d'arting anything -- so in I went.

Shoes! All the other guests were wearing shoes, which could mean only one of two things: the guests had brought their shoes and changed into them; or they had worn overshoes, also known as rubbers, which I neither like to wear nor am able to say in mixed company.

I couldn't enjoy the PPP because I was so conscious of my sock feet. None of the guests said anything, because that's the kind of classy crowd it was, but you could tell when they said "pigs in blankets" that they were talking about my feet. What's worse, we were two of the few people from Stanstead at the PPP, so I'd like to apologize to my fellow citizens for sullying our reputation or perhaps reinforcing it.

For PPPs, then, you have three options: a) don't go if the party is classier than you; b) bring shoes; or c) don't bring shoes, show up in your crummiest boots, find a pair you like in the vestibule, switch, go home. Posh footwear is the best.

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