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MARTHA SEZ: What not to wear post Labor Day

September 24, 2013
MARTHA ALLEN , Lake Placid News

All right, everybody, put away your white shoes. Labor Day is over.

No matter how many things I forget, I always remember what my mother taught me about wearing white shoes after Labor Day: Don't do it!

Such rules may seem to some meaningless and shallow. That is because they are meaningless and shallow, in and of themselves. It is important to follow these rules, however, because by so doing we convince ourselves and others that we are in control of our lives, lives that are orderly and predictable. Without this illusion, we would be even more nervous than we already are. Eastern meditation and Western medication might not do the trick anymore, in which case everything would just fall apart.

If you want to take that gamble, go right ahead. Keep wearing those white shoes.

It is worthy of note that even during the Sixties and Seventies, decades of sweeping social change and youthful rebellion, you didn't catch a whole lot of people wearing white shoes after Labor Day. I happened to have the opportunity to be around some counter-cultural individuals in those days, and I can tell you that, however zealously they flouted American conventions, they never went so far as to wear white shoes after Labor Day. It's as if they instinctively understood that was the limit. It's kind of cosmic.

When I was in Houston, Texas, the main people I saw sporting white shoes at any time of year were businessmen and/or evangelical proselytizers. I theorize that they wanted to demonstrate that they had made a clean break with such occupations as cattle roping and truck farming. Whose footwear could look so pristine after stepping out of a corral or barnyard? This personal message, conventional in its own right, was clearly considered by some to supersede the no-white-shoes-after-Labor-Day dictum. That doesn't make it right, though.

There are exceptions. Brides may walk down the aisle in white, wearing white shoes. White shoes may be worn with impunity by toddling babies, nurses and athletes.

While you're putting away the shoes, you might as well pack up your white skirts and pants-unless they're part of a uniform, in which case leave them out by all means. I don't want to get you into trouble.

Wool and winter white are all right. If you want to wear white underwear, that's a matter of choice, except for the so-called temple garments worn by Latter Day Saints, which may be mandatory. You would have to check on that.

The beginning of school marks a new year for all of us, consciously or unconsciously. Even if we are not buying notebooks and Ticonderoga pencils, we we are likely to be making resolutions. I'm sure this is the year we will succeed in our resolve to be cool and popular.

American refrigerators are essentially large, magnet-laden bulletin boards. Some consider the front of the refrigerator door an American folk art medium. Whether or not it's art, the refrigerator door is now due for an overhaul. Summer schedules need to be replaced with fall and winter schedules. Pile all of your invitations, brochures, photographs, expired coupons and other once-valuable pieces of paper on the counter, along with the magnets.

That orange juice carton is teetering, by the way, did you notice? Yes, it is an accident waiting to happen, and while it wouldn't be difficult at this point to put the orange juice back into the refrigerator, it has become a kind of challenge. Will the carton stay put, maintaining its fragile equilibrium, or ...

Darn. Now I have to wash the floor, or my shoes will stick to the linoleum every time I cross the room. Not my white shoes, though. They're in the closet.

By the way, I've already started reorganizing the closet, by flinging all of my sweaters off the shelves onto the floor. I have been careful to step over them for the last couple of days.

"Oh well," says my friend Samantha, who wants me to go sit outside and watch all of the tourists in their cars migrating south on state Route 73. "The sweaters will still be there in the morning."

I know, I say. That's just the trouble. Sam says she regrets not climbing Giant Mountain, which was one of her goals for the summer. I tell her it will still be there in the morning too.

We're going to go sit in the front yard now. Have a good week.



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