Friday, November 07, 2008


Part six in a continuing series exploring the wonderous weirdness of the Norwegian wold.

Tonight's topic: weird footwear.

If you were to take a cultural sensitivity class about how not to be overly offensive during your stay in Norway, one of the first things you'd be told is, do not wear outdoor shoes inside a Norwegian household.

This crucial imparative would come right after the 'avoid eye contact with strangers and innocuous, friendly gestures of greeting in public as locals will think you're soft in the head, and waste precious warming energy being annoyed with you and wondering why the system isn't doing its job in keeping such threatening menaces off the streets' lecture. But sometime before the critical 'fish balls, fish cakes, and fish eggs (no, not those kinds of balls you perverted, ignorant foreigner, you)' appreciation course. It's really that important.

No wet, dirty shoes inside. Period. Invest in some warm, thick, whimsically decorative socks. Or Crocs. Every school child in Norway is required to have a pair of indoor shoes at school which they change into first thing in the morning, and after every recess. It's not uncommon for office workers to do the same. If you're going to a dinner party and wish to wear your fancy dress pumps with your cocktail dress, you carry said dress pumps to the party in a ubiquitous plastic shopping bag, then change out of your wet wellies once you arrive at the party.

Now, if you happen to be taking your daughter to her Tuesday night ballet class and can't be bothered to bring along your favorite pair of indoor Crocs to wear while you wait, do not fret. Look around. There's likely to be a small basket just inside the door holding a ragged collection of blue plastic booties that you can easily slip over your outdoor shoes. Doctor's offices, barnehages, gyms, and dentists all will have the same basket.

And here's the really weird part.....people actually do it........


OSLO said...

Oh that's funny. I was just thinking thinking about posting about this the other day but didn't get around to it. People in Ireland think we're a bit weird when we ask them to take their shoes off at the front door but the thought of all the dog crap they would drag in with them on their shoes is enough for me to enforce the rule. Here in Oslo, I've started carrying a pair of blue plastic covers around in the car so that when I collect the girls from play-dates, I don't have to unlace my snow boots. OMG! Listen to me - I'm turning Norwegian! Love the photo by the way. Oh Also, have given you an award which you need to collect, if you want it, at my 'place'.

Nita said...

So at Dianes you have to take your shoes off, I'm going to tell her she has to get some of those great looking blue things. Her floors are so cold in the winter my feet hurt before I can unpack my slippers.

Trace said...

So, it is like at Chad's Aunt Marilyn's house where blue surgical "maybe-paper-but-sortof-fabric-meshy-stuff" booties await us in a neat little stack at the entrance of her 4,000 sq. foot entirely white carpeted home when we visit. And she has figurines and gnomes and elves and angels and... that's an entirely different post comnet... sorry.

Aunt Marilyn would be SO proud to visit Norway and see the plethora of booties. Perhaps she should.
Oooh, she could visit you! :)

I do appreciate people taking off their footwear when they come over to our home as well - it is just a nice gesture.

The Partial Godfather said...

Thanks, Now I know exactly what to get you for Christmas. The VA Hospital has tons of these. They wont know if a box comes up missing.

So there are 3 or 4 people at the VA that follows our blogs religously. Each and every one of them has said that you are a great writer. And that you should be writing books!


myyearonline said...

hey jeda, the first time i saw these outside of a hospital context was on the cable guy at a friend's house in north carolina! i'm wondering if there is a link to having kids here, as i have never seen them in action in my daily oslo life. until this morning, when i saw a lady get out of a cab and walk up to the hospital entrance (yes, outside!) with her blue plastic booties on... do you think she just forgot?

Victoria said...

Hey Jeda,
The shoe thing was so weird for me to get used to. Now it almost feels really strange not to.
I remember we attended a party with a newly arrived American. She obviously didn't realize the shoe thing because when she took hers off, her socks were REALLY mismatched. She felt embarrassed but it was rather funny I though.