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 Uggs...it'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.

6 comments:

Molly said...

This post made me laugh out loud! Years ago before Iived here, my husband and I were here for a visit in early September. It was still very hot, and I wore a skirt without nylons. My MIL was VERY concerned about it, even offering me a pair of hers (O. M. G.) Later in the day, I was sitting by myself in a park and a man came up to me, started verbally accosting me, and even touched my bare legs. Ok, so he was mentally disabled (I think, maybe just crazy), but even he had enough "sense" to know that you don't go around without stockings after September 1. Now I stick with pants in the fall. Too much drama and I don't wear nylons!

Sew Bee It said...

I had to laugh, as well, cause yeah. I love to tell the story of 3 american mom's going in to the Kingergarten for a Mother's day celebration; our inside shoes were flipflops. In May. We didn't wear nylons. Gasp, shock, concern! We snickered at all the mom's in their sensible slippers and hoes and here we were in our scandalous flip flops and naked toes! 'Course I get yelled at if it's 50 out and I don't have my kids dressed like it's still 20. Seriously you'd think they'd be more worried about the teens who's jeans barely cover their cracks! Eh, I've come to love it for the great stories it lets me tell:)-

Anonymous said...

What, oh what in the world, is a "uterus cold"? Do they really exist?

Here in TR, there is this... Thing about wind, or a breeze making one ill. So seriously is this taken that (true story) you can get on a minibus (a little blue breadbox with big windows into which *many* people can be squeezed) in August. It's probably 100F inside the bus, with the windows open. You're feeling ill and hoping you brought enough water, and praying that you're not offending anyone with your surreptitious stripping (and really, there's nothing left that you can strip off.) A lady in a full-length coat and a tight headscarf, with an infant bundled up to almost invisibility, boards the bus. And YES, she asks everyone to close the windows! The 99F breeze on her baby might make the wee thing ill! Everyone immediately closes all the windows, and in a matter of minutes, you find yourself pressed, body to body, in a rolling greenhouse that is now up to 110F.

(I seriously thought I wasn't going to make it. Got off the bus, nearly threw up, took about 20 mins. to recover in the bus depot. Was shaky for hours. Very thankful that back where I come from, I can open my windows when there's snow on the ground, and people *understand*!)

Anonymous said...

SO TRUE OH MY GOD. :) glad to know someone else has noticed this difference and taken it with a similar sense of humor...

Anonymous said...

ha ha ha...that is hilarious, of course I hear stuff like this, often since I wear no shoes around the house/yard, sandals til Oct., no nylons until it's really cold...so when I catch a cold it's because I am "konnyelmu" too easy going....and I am Hungarian...so I guess my mother's lectures just flew over my cuckoo's nest.....my hubby wears socks all the time....even in hot weather, with sandals....I love going bare....bare feet that is....

Anonymous said...

I have this peeve in reverse. I am a Slovenian (not Hungarian, but close enough) living in Canada, I find wearing flip-flops really reprehensible not only from a fashion point of view, but sometimes downright disrespectful when worn in an official environment, such as office. It does go to your nerves: flip.flop.flip.flop.
The absolute worst (and i am sure you don't do this, since Hungarians might strangulate you:) is when a person puts their bare feet on the chair in a Starbucks or Bridgehead (i am from Ottawa). So uncivilized.

I guess, to sum it up, for us Europeans, it is less about uterus, and more about some form of subtle passive-agressiveness, which we--perhaps wrongly--associate with flipping and flopping. As if they say, 'look at me, all carefree, not caring about my environment, neither in terms of sound, sight or even smell.'