“Best of…” 2003-a

From: J.M.F.

Subject: “The bottoms of your feet are shoes.”

Date: Nov 2003

A little background on the Bardavon Opera House in downtown Poughkeepsie, NY.  (http://bardavon.org)  It is a very beautiful 19th-century theater (complete with its original 1920s-vintage Wurlitzer theater organ!).

Two years ago, I was in final rehearsals of a show that was being performed at the Bardavon Friday and Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend.  I had been playing the piano and going hither and thither in my usual bare soles all that week. (And, in fact, I had done some other work there over the previous months, also barefoot…)

Then, at the dress rehearsal that Wednesday, Zack, the Bardavon stage manager, spotted me, and had a minor cow.  “You’ve been here ALL WEEK like that?”  “Sure, I am always barefoot when I perform.  When I’m not performing, too, come to think of it.”

At that moment he didn’t look like being flexible at all.  But, I went back up to him after the rehearsal and said, “I know you’re just doing your job.  If you think it would help, I could talk to Lucy [one of the head honchos at the Bardavon], she knows me and I have worked with her before.”

Zack thought this over a second and said, “You know what, don’t worry about it, you’ll never be able to get ahold of her before the weekend, and after that it will all be moot anyhow.”  And I said, “And, since *you* have now done *your* job by Reading Me The Rules, your behind is officially covered, whatever happens.”  He brightened visibly and said, “Yeah!  You’re right. Cool.”

So I continued going about my business peacefully and happily barefoot all through THAT show.  (By the way, I think it helped that it was a very cold late November that year, and Zack had seen me and my feet coming and going happily, walking the downtown streets in 15-degree (F) weather — so he knew that I was serious about being a full-time barefooter.)

And for all my engagements at the Bardavon ever since that time, my bare feet have been considered *officially* OK.  Sometimes when he is Reading The Rules to a group with me present, Zack will even specify that I am exempt from the footwear requirement!

That brings us to tonight, and another first-rehearsal-at-the-Bardavon of yet another show.  Zack was again Reading The House Rules to the company, including Wear Footwear At All Times — just stating it flatly.  So afterwards, I caught him on my way out and said, “I know you’re just giving your usual spiel; I assume that you and I are still cool though.”  He waved me off, saying, “Naah, none of that stuff applies to you.  As far as I am concerned, the bottoms of your feet are shoes.”  Wow.  🙂

I think that this statement not only shows some understanding of the toughness of a true barefooter’s feet, but is not that far from the truth, really.  How many times have I been asked, “Where are your shoes?” only to wiggle my toes and reply, “These ARE my shoes.  Best ever made!”  I think that most of us here would certainly regard our bare soles as being just as good as any shoe for just about any practical purpose short of walking on molten lava.

So often here on the SBL list we hear about difficult manager types at some establishment or other.  It’s too bad we can’t get THEM to regard the thick bottoms of a barefooter’s feet as being “shoes” for the purposes of their rules…