Thursday, March 4, 2010

Hungarians and Feet

Ok, I don't often rag on Hungarians. I love them. I love them in all of their hard working, extremely hospitable, resilient, amazing food-making, community minded glory. I also don't want this blog entry to somehow place all Hungarians in some arbitrary "box", although many of my previous posts have done nothing less than that. Goodness knows I can't stand it when people place all of America in the "stupid, fat, and gluttonous" box. With that said, I just can't hold this feeling in any longer. I'm finding myself becoming grumpy at and resentful of Hungary for this issue that is causing me great pain on a daily basis (particularly when the time comes to get ready in the morning somehow). I am hoping that simply getting this issue off my chest will somehow comfort me and get me through the coming weeks until this seasonal issue is no longer an issue. The issue: feet. Seriously. If you would have told me a a year and a half ago when I decided to come to Hungary that the cultural difference I would have to grapple with most (sad, but true) would be feet, I would have been like "Psssh. Whatever". Yet today, I sit here writing a blog that makes me grumpy just by typing it. First of all, let me explain some of the cultural ideas surrounding feet and footwear in the United States....just so maybe I will seem somewhat rational to my Hungarian readers. Like the people of the United States, American's feet thrive on the idea that they are free, both physically and psychologically. This means that you can really wear whatever you want on your feet without judgement from others (aside from Crocs and's just a crime). What I'm REALLY getting at is that you can wear what you want, regardless of what time of year it is. Because we love our feet to be physically free as often as possible, we choose to wear shoes that expose our feet to fresh air and sun rays as often as possible. This means that it could be a sunny day in January in Alaska, and there are bound to be a couple people sporting flip flops because gosh darn it (Sarah Palin accent included), it's sunny! And even in February, when it's still chilly and snow storms are inevitable, our sense of everlasting optimism creeps up and tells us to start wearing sandals and flip flops because well, Spring is really just around the corner, so why not? Now, it could have been 85 degrees out today here in Hungary and I would have worn flip-flops. Was it 85 degrees out today in Hungary? Nem. No. Cut that in half and you're about right. But that's beside the point. IF IT WERE 85 degrees and I had worn flip-flops in March, I would have gotten stared at and asked several times if I was cold. I'd get extra points if someone politely warned me about a uterus cold. I finally started wearing my flats (not flip-flops...flats...toes are covered, people!) without socks this week. I wear pants. Yet a square inch of my skin pops out from underneath and people wonder...aren't you cold?!?! By the way, the whole time I'm being judged, there is a teenager standing next to me wearing a mini-skirt and boots...but she has on nylons. She's safe from uterus colds and the like. I can hear the feet of Hungarians screaming out from under their layers of boots, socks, AND tights: "Help me!!! I'm suffocating!!" But alas, they stay there until the officially accepted date (last year it was May 1st) of being allowed to sport sandals without judgement. SO fine, I will wear my socks for a few more weeks (unless the temperature gets above 55 again, so help me God...), and I will only start wearing sandals a few weeks before the officially acceptable date. I will also, on my honor, try my darndest to stop complaining about Hungarians and their need to wear "proper" footwear at all times. But if I were to see a single Hungarian break this rule (rules are meant to be broken, right?) and show their feet in the coming weeks...I might stop (and first make sure they are really Hungarian) and hug them for coming over to the dark side.