When I was growing up in Australia, we rarely wore shoes unless we were going out. Summers were spent barefoot, spring and autumn too, until it got too cold. No one wore shoes or slippers inside the house or whilst out in the yard or even when visiting the neighbours. Therefore, when I am home and the weather is warm, my feet are bare and if I need to make a quick dash downstairs to take out the trash, then I don’t bother putting on shoes.
This ‘quirk’ of mine deeply disturbs my German neighbours and never fails to raise a comment. Today, my elderly neighbour and hausmeister Frau M, along with Herr G, came over to sand and re-paint my balcony. I didn’t ask for anyone to do this, I was merely informed, in the typical German fashion, that this was going to happen and I decided it was best not to argue with two determined German pensioners. Since it is 24C and sunny today, I didn’t have any shoes on. I came out on the balcony with them to see if I could assist. My barefeet were immediately noticed and I was told with great certainty that having barefeet on a titled balcony (despite it being warm) will cause me to catch a cold and that I should go inside. When I informed them that I already had a cold. They reluctantly agreed that I probably couldn’t catch a cold twice but I shouldn’t risk it and I was banished back inside.
The Germans also have a similar reaction to wet hair and the presence of a slight breeze. I can’t imagine what they think might happen to me if I went outside on a windy day with barefeet and wet hair, probably that I will drop dead after 3 – 4 steps.
Has anyone else ever encountered odd German old wives tales, especially ones based on something you do in your own culture? I’m determined to educate my neighbours that my barefeet is something that is done in my own culture and they don’t need to worry about me. However, it’s been a year and still they are just as concerned about my health as they ever were. I may be fighting a losing battle here.