Friday, January 16, 2009

Looking Down

I look down when I walk alone. It’s a habit I picked up in high school when it was a lot easier to focus on the floor than make awkward eye contact with a complete stranger (or worse, someone I vaguely knew) in an empty hallway. Despite the positive or negative nature of my little habit, it does help in the observation of the world around me. Or, more honestly, the world just below the ankles of my fellow pedestrians.

So, I notice footwear. From shoes to boots to sandals to nothing at all, I instantly look to people’s feet when I walk. This is an entirely self-preserving practice, one that was again cultivated in my early teens to look somewhat normal in a crowd – or, better yet, not to be noticed at all. For instance, if I noticed enough people wearing sandals in March, I knew that it wouldn’t be entirely foolish to pull out my Tevas. If I saw classmates with barn boots in November, I could wear mine without too much fear of scorn. Of course, it’s highly unlikely that anyone a) really cared about my potentially embarrassing footwear, and b) looked at my feet at all, as shoes are one of the last things that most people seem to notice on a daily basis. Nonetheless, my search for proper attire below my ankles has flourished to this day.

With my eyes to the ground, my internal footwear catalogue has blossomed – too bad my shoe collection hasn’t followed that trend.

I wonder what other people see when they look down.

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