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Get your shoes off the bed!

August 20, 2009

Yesterday I was sitting on my bed putting on my shoes. The bed is fairly high off the floor, and I’m not as bendy as I used to be, so putting the shoes on the bed before putting them on the feet makes sense. But I couldn’t do it.

Why? Not because I was worried about dirt. It was because my grandma used to say, “If you put shoes on the bed then there will be a death in the family within a year.”

Of course, my rational mind knows that the origin of that superstition is some harried pre-Industrial mother for whom washing bedding was a major project, and that what the saying really means is, “Johnny, if you put your shoes on the bed again I’m going to have a family member drop you down the well some time this year.”

Given the state of pre-Industrial doctoring and disease control, one of Johnny’s family members likely would die within the year and Johnny would develop a full-blown guilt complex as well as a healthy fear of his mother.

This kind of guilt and fear naturally bled into post-Industrial society and gave rise to Freud, who probably put his shoes on the bed one too many times for his long-suffering mother, had his fourth cousin Myrtle die of the plague a week later, was consumed by guilt, couldn’t handle it, and then shifted the blame to his and everyone else’s mother for everything. And now we all have to live with a bunch of psychobabble, all because Freud couldn’t keep his shoes off the bed. The irony is that all of this could have been prevented if men had invented electricity, bleach, and washing machines just a few years earlier. How’s that for shifting blame?

But back to the case in point. I inherited about half a superstition gene from grandma — my mother’s mother. She was a piece of work…. speaking of superstitions, doesn’t something bad happen to you if you criticize the dead? Anyway, I won’t say anything else here about grandma, other than there were many superstitions that guided her life — and I do mean guided because she actually, truly believed them and would point out your grave error if you violated one of them. Then she’d watch you for a year or so and point out what Bad Thing happened and let you know you had only yourself to blame.

Here are a few examples of Grandma’s Rules for Life that you might find familiar:

  • If you look cross-eyed, your eyes will stay that way.
  • Lie down after a big meal and you will die.
  • Only stir a pot to the right. (This one came with no consequences, which is dire in itself.)
  • Never swim after eating; you’ll get cramps.
  • Step on a crack and you’ll break your mother’s back.

I will admit that I buy into a few classics myself. I get a little freaked out by black cats on Halloween, I don’t walk under ladders, and I spent the early part of my life avoiding sidewalk cracks (my mother owes her good back to me). So, there’s this little piece of me that somewhat believes these things, and that little piece came directly from grandma. Or maybe my problem is that I stir the pot in a figure 8 pattern — right and left all mixed up. Freud would know. He probably stirred to the left.

Anyway, this is why I don’t put my shoes on the bed, otherwise it really wouldn’t bother me what I’d stepped in the day before (as long as whateveritwas wasn’t sitting on a sidewalk crack), and I’d go ahead and set those shoes right on that nice, clean bed. Bad, eh? They invented grandmas like mine for swine-ish grandchildren like me.

Meanwhile, that little half-superstition gene has requested that I ask all family members to avoid putting shoes on the bed at least for the near future. I know I’m responsible enough to keep mine off the bed and protect you.

For those of you who are not family members you can do whatever you want with your shoes. But don’t sit so close to the computer, it will ruin your eyes!!

7 Comments leave one →
  1. August 20, 2009 6:22 pm

    Is that why I don’t put shoes on the bed? It must be so imbedded (no pun intended) in my phyche that I just take it for granted. It makes me crazy that Bill ties his shoes after putting his shod-but-as-yet-untied foot up on the couch or coffee table. Maybe there’s a reason most of my shoes are slip-on…

  2. Maria Murray permalink
    August 21, 2009 5:24 am

    Hi Mrs. B.,

    We knew an Irish lady with the shoe superstition, but hers was about placing new shoes on the table – a variation I guess. Well, though we’re not family, we’ll avoid all.

    I hope the chemo isn’t too rough today. Thanks for all your wonderful words – I can see more and more why Justin admires you so much.



  3. Lisa permalink
    August 21, 2009 8:23 am

    I was thinking of you and yours today. It also is my Dad’s re-start of chemo today. Many healing prayers being sent to you both as I slowly wake up.

    What is really scary about Freud is some of his stuff makes sense, but he carried it a bit too far. He had a Dr. who also was a psychologist and she did work that is a lot more credible, but being a woman well we all don’t talk about her too much.

    If you need a laugh.. the scariest statistic I ever read was that 56 percent of today’s mental health professionals consider themself Freudian in their treatment. Me, I am a behavioral psychology follower, but I promise to not put anyone into a ‘box (ie Skinner box, pun intended).’

    Ramble .. ramble.. Thinking of you. I’d be tempted to put my shoes on the bed, just to prove that I could and say – there ya go world… my shoes are on the bed and I’m doing just fine!

    Here I always thought shoes on the bed were due to my Mom’s OCD, but her Mom was superstitious and that could explain that one. I’ll have to ask her!

  4. Lisa permalink
    August 21, 2009 8:24 am

    Shoot.. he had a daughter who was also a psychologist.. not a Dr.

    • Jill permalink
      August 21, 2009 8:50 am

      Ohhh… That could be a bit of a Freudian slip. lol

      Prayers for your dad as he dives back in to chemo.

      • Lisa permalink
        August 21, 2009 12:48 pm

        How did your treatment go today? Hanging in there?

        Yes, guess that could have been a “Freudian slip” .. maybe his daughter was his Dr. which explained his ‘woman issues..’

        Always teased, that would be an interesting family to grow up in 😉

        Thanks for the good thoughts for Dad. He seemed cheerful when I called and giddy that he gets out of the hospital after a month. Maybe three more treatments.. we’ll see..

  5. Lisa permalink
    August 21, 2009 12:51 pm

    OK I’m banned from commenting *teasing* I see you haven’t left yet. Or maybe have by now.. sending healing white light and prayers.

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