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Subject: alt.lifestyle.barefoot FAQ [2/2]
This article was archived around: 10 Nov 1997 12:10:02 -0800
Posting-Frequency: monthly (on the 10th)
SECTION 4: Getting by in a Shod World
Q14: What can I say to passers-by if they make a comment?
If it's just a comment, ignoring them is always an option. If they ask
a question, ignoring them is still an option.
However, being polite usually helps and some barefooters have gotten
into some interesting conversations. Maybe you can even make a few
The responses get nastier or weirder the farther down the list they
are. It depends on your mood at the time. (Some of the responses can
be used in response to more than one comment.)
* _You're barefoot!_
+ You're not!
+ You're observant!
+ You're right!
+ Thanks for the tip.
+ No shit, Sherlock.
* _Why aren't you wearing shoes?_
+ Don't like 'em.
+ They make my feet sweat/stink.
+ My feet like the fresh air.
+ My feet were hot.
+ One less thing to do in the morning.
+ Why aren't you wearing gloves [hat]?
+ To annoy people like you.
+ Why do you care?
+ I'm allergic to them.
+ I'm not wearing a tie either.
+ I'm off-duty.
+ I'm opposed to wasting petrochemicals/leather.
+ I'm performing a scientific foot-toughening experiment.
+ If I don't keep in contact with the ground, I build up a
+ My feet were jealous of my hands.
+ I'll give you three-thousand guesses.
+ They are a conspiracy by multi-national plastic and leather
+ I knew I had forgotten something!
* _Why are you barefoot?_
+ I like the way it feels.
+ It's much more comfortable.
+ I think it looks cool.
+ I want to toughen my feet.
+ It's good for my feet.
+ Because feet are beautiful.
+ It gives me this wonderful feeling of freedom.
+ I want keep in touch with the earth.
+ Because I'm not wearing shoes [duh!].
+ Try and work it out.
+ Because I m not concerned with your contempt.
+ Because you don't pay my salary.
+ I'm in a time-warp from the '60s.
* _Where are your shoes?_
+ At home [where they belong].
+ I don't know. [Have you seen them?]
+ Somewhere else.
+ What do you mean? These are God's Reeboks.
+ On vacation.
+ Don't have any.
+ My what?
+ What are shoes?
+ Up there. [Said while pointing up.]
+ Aliens took them.
* _Aren't your feet cold?_
+ Not unduly.
+ No...My feet are _cool_!
+ Obviously not.
+ Aren't your feet hot?
* _Nice shoes._
+ Very comfortable too.
+ Do you like them? My parents made them for me.
Q15: Is it legal to drive barefoot?
YES!!! (At least in the United States, Canada, and England; I don't
know about other countries.) The statement to the contrary is urban
folklore and believed by so many people, even some police officers.
However, if you call either your local or state police and ask them,
they will say it's legal. If the cop on the phone says otherwise, ask
him/her to give you the statute number. S/he won't be able to and then
will admit their mistake.
One guy actually did write to all 50 states asking the question. All
the letters he received back are available via:
Additionally, the _American Automobile Association_ (AAA) publishes a
"_Digest of Motor Laws_" handbook that is a:
Summary of laws and regulations governing regulation and operation
of passenger cars in the United States, its Territories, and the
Provinces of Canada.
It has a "Barefoot Driving" entry for all states and territories; and
for each it says: "Operation of a motor vehicle by a driver with bare
feet is permitted."
The 62nd edition has ISBN 0-916748-70-7. You can obtain a copy of the
digest through your local AAA club. When I called my local AAA club,
they were clueless about the fact thay they sell it. Be persistent. If
all else fails, you can contact:
American Automobile Association
Traffic Safety and Engineering Department
1000 AAA Drive
Heathrow, FL 32746-5063
Q16: Why don't many stores permit bare feet?
There are a few reasons:
1. Mind-set. Some store-owners have hangups about bare feet for
absolutely no good reason. Many people are brainwashed into
thinking you _need_ to wear shoes. They just can't handle the
concept of bare feet out on the streets. People tend to dislike
what they don't understand.
Note that mind-set varies with locale: In the Chicago area, for
example, many large chain stores and supermarkets forbid bare
feet. If you go to warmer climates like California or Florida,
barefooted people are much more common so nobody thinks anything
of it. Also, if store-owners chased out barefooted customers,
they'd be doing that all day long.
On a more global scale, countries like Australia and New Zealand
are _very_ barefoot friendly. Many, many people go barefoot
regularly everywhere. Nobody cares and they think it's completely
natural (which it is).
2. Alleged health laws. I have written to my township and my county
and state health departments. There are _no_ laws stating that
customers may not be barefoot in _any_ kind of store _including_
food-service establishments. I know others in other states who
have done the same research: nothing.
I know a guy who complained to the health department in CA about
McDonalds displaying the sign, "No Bare Feet by Order of the
Department of Health." It turned out that McDonald's removed the
signs (in CA) and wrote a letter of apology to guy who complained!
For an exercise, I called the headquarters of a large supermarket
chain in the Chicago area. The woman on the phone was just as
ignorant: she thought it was illegal to go barefoot into stores. I
asked her to give me the statute number (knowing full well that
she couldn't because it doesn't exist). She said she'd have to
call me back. She actually did and told me that there is no law,
but it's their "store policy."
Of course, the bottom line is that a store-owner can refuse to
serve you for any reason so long as it isn't sex, race, religion,
veteran status, sexual orientation, etc, etc. Bare feet,
unfortunately, are not "covered" by anti-discrimination laws. But
you can spend your dollars elsewhere.
As an aside, what does _health_ have to do with it? Do they sell
food off the floor? Yes, when I go barefoot, the soles of my feet
get very dirty...so what? Are shoe-soles any cleaner? Dirt is
dirt. At least I wash myself daily which is most likely more than
people wash the soles of their shoes.
3. Broken glass. Store-owners are so afraid that you will step on
broken glass and sue them, that they just forbid bare feet
altogether. In one respect, this is a ridiculous thing to say. For
avid barefooters, broken glass is not too much of a problem. The
soles of my feet are _very_ thick and tough, the way they are
naturally supposed to be. I rarely injure myself with broken
glass. The store-owners, however, don't realize this.
In another respect, I do have some sympathy for them. The USA is,
by far, the most "sue-happy" country in the world. And the worst
part is that dumb-ass juries enable people to win! There was a
case where one neighbor borrowed another's lawnmower. The guy
decided that his hedges needed a trim, so he picks up the
lawnmower while it's still running and, needless to say, injures
himself very badly. He sued not only the lawnmower manufacturer,
but also his neighbor for failing to warn him that picking up a
running lawnmower was dangerous. He won! Given such verdicts, the
store-owners are just protecting themselves.
Even if I were to cut myself, I would not sue. I am a big boy and
realize the possible consequences of my actions and realize that
most things that happen to me are _my_ fault.
Q17: Which stores do permit bare feet?
Despite the above answer, there are many stories you can go barefoot
to. From my personal experience: most any (non-chain) shop in a strip
mall, Baskin Robbins, laundromats, pizza joints to pick up your pizza,
the Post Office, Subway, video stores, among others.
I try to give these places my business. No shirt, no shoes, no money!
Q18: What do you wear when you are forced to wear shoes?
Soft-soled (treadless) moccasins: there's just a thin layer of leather
between you and the ground. Unfortunately, they don't work well when
they get wet since they absorb water. For wet conditions,
Birkenstocks. (I don't like rubber-soled Tevas because they make my
feet sweat and _stink_ -- kind of against the whole point of wearing
sandals.) I was able to find soft-soled moccasins at a
western-clothing store. Another source is described below.
[The following was contributed by Don Weber <ToughFeet@aol.com>.]
Soft soled moccasins may be purchased from Tandy Leather Company.
If there is no store near you, then request a catalog from:
Tandy Leather Company
Fort Worth, TX 76101
They are a bargain at under $10. They come in the form of a kit
that you sew together yourself with shoe laces. It's easy because
the holes are already punched for you. Make sure you get the ones
without those stupid hard soles stitched to them. The foam insole
can easily be ripped out as well.
Another good thing about soft-soled moccasins is that they can be
folded up and easily stuffed into a fanny-pack. This way, you don't
have to carry shoes, but you have them in case you are forced to wear
[Don also likes Knoppy Birkenstocks.]
Super Knoppy Birkenstocks may be ordered from any store that sells
Birkenstocks. They rarely stock Super Knoppies because very few
customers order them. Think of them as a sandal with very wide, but
blunt and rounded, plastic nails sticking up from the footbed.
These "nails" are called "knops." They breath better than any soled
footware I know.
Q19: Is there such a thing as soleless footwear?
_Bare Bottoms_ or soleless sandals
They are really just a leather strap worn to make it appear to
a casual observer that you're wearing sandals even though your
soles and toes remain naturally and comfortably bare.
Experience with them indicates that they do in fact fool
people, the "No Bare Feet" crowd being the chief target. The
theory is that an observer's brain doesn't notice anything
unusual in peripheral vision, not enough to glance down. People
who do glance down may feel too stupid asking a question even
though they may realize that "something's wrong with this
You used to be able to get them from _American Science &
Surplus_ in Skokie, IL; however, they're all sold out and no
more are being made. The description:
A pair of 1/2" x 33" leather straps with a
buckle on one end and a couple of small slits
with brass studs along the way. The idea was to
thread the strap around your big toe and arch
passing through the slits on the way. Viola!
Something that looked like a sandal but wasn't.
Perfect to get into a "No shoes, No service"
spot. Made in 1967 for the anti-establishment
and photo showing them being modeled (by me):
should enable you to make your own or enable a local
craftsperson to make you a pair.
These are also a soleless sandal, but are more intricate than
Bare Bottoms. They loop around your "index toe" and your ankle.
A catalog of these, in various styles and colors, may be
obtained by writing to:
301 Moose Hill Road
Monroe, CT 06468
A graphic is available at:
These are an even more intricate design than Hawaiian Sno-Shoes
in that there is a portion that wraps up your lower leg. A
catalog of these may be obtained by contacting:
The River Studio, Inc.
1013 Azaleamum Drive
Three Rivers, MI 49093
(616) 273-3310 (FAX)
There is also a Barefoot Sandals home page:
These are leather coverings for the tops of your feet and
arches: the toes, balls, and heels of your feet remain bare.
These are good for warmth. If you can't get these ready-made, a
good leather crafter can make them for you inexpensively. Or,
if you would like to make them yourself, there are detailed
instructions on pp. 74-78 of _The Barefoot Hiker_ (see the
SECTION 5: Reference
Q20: Is there anything written about bare feet?
_The Barefoot Hiker_
Author: Richard K. Frazine
Publisher: Ten-Speed Press
Price: $7.95 US
Order direct: 1-800-841-BOOK
It's a "how-to" book on barefoot hiking, a _very_ pleasurable
experience. You get to _feel_ the ground, soft soil, grass,
fuzzy moss, and mud squishing between your toes.
But it's also on bare feet in general, thoughts, perceptions,
attitudes, etc. It's a great little book...and at $7.95, it's a
[See Q21 for information on how to contact Richard.]
_The Barefoot League_
This was an essay essay written in 1914 by James Leith MacBeth
Bain. He wrote about both the pleasures and societal
difficulties of going barefoot. It seems that some of what is
true today was also true in 1914. The essay is available via:
_Endangered Pleasures -- Bare Feet_
There's a wonderful essay about the simple pleasure of bare
feet in the book, "Endangered Pleasures," by Barbara Holland,
Little, Brown, and Company, 1995, ISBN 0-316-37057-6.
It expresses the way I and many other barefooters feel. An
excerpt of this essay is available at:
More information about the book is available at:
The rest of the book is well-written and humorous; I highly
_Dirty Sole Society Writings_
The Dirty Sole Society (see Q21) has a web page where member
writings have been placed; a sort of a "best of" collection.
Also on the same web page are some writings of other
barefooters as well as links to "The Barefoot League" and the
Bare Feet essay in "Endangered Pleasures" mentioned above.
Q21: Are there barefoot groups?
Yes. There are a group of barefooters on the 'net:
_The Dirty Sole Society_:
The Dirty Sole Society, of which I am a member, is a group of
folks who prefer life unshod. There is a "recruiting" ad posted
monthly to alt.lifestyle.barefoot and to other newsgroups.
Watch for it! Or, you just write me. An excerpt from the ad:
Real-life stories, experiences, trip-reports,
thoughts, feelings, and tips having to do with
bare feet and barefootin' as well as upcoming
barefoot-related events are the sort of
material we discuss.
They also have their own web page:
that, among other things, has trip reports along with photos.
These are groups of folks who prefer to hike barefoot so they
can _feel_ the various textures of the ground. See the main
Barefoot Hikers web site for chapter locations:
These are people who love the indescribable rush they get from
feeling of the pressure and flow of the water's surface as
their feet glide over it. They have their own web page:
_Windjammer Barefoot Cruises_
Windjammer Barefoot Cruises <firstname.lastname@example.org> is a
company that has cruises on masted sailing ships wherein you
are _encouraged_ to go barefoot the entire time. How about
that? A vacation especially for barefooters! Write them for
more information or visit their web page:
END OF PART 2
END OF DOCUMENT