Saturday, September 20, 2008

Mennonite Grocery Sandal Scandal

I shop for groceries at as many as five places: The local Weis Market, a modern, typical grocery store; the local Super Walmart for a few items that are crazy expensive elsewhere; the Farmers’ Market on Wednesdays and the Flea Market on Thursdays for fresh and often local produce; and the nearby Mennonite grocery store where nearly everything is amazingly inexpensive.

I call it the Mennonite grocery store because every woman I’ve seen working there wears traditional Mennonite dresses and bonnets. Mennonites are not far removed from the Amish, and the similarities apparently appeal to the local Amish population: there’s a hitching rail in the parking lot, and on most Wednesdays several Amish buggies pull up and their riders step out to shop.

On a particular Wednesday, the Amish shoppers arrived wearing what I imagined was their most formal attire: the men wore dark pants, button shirts, jackets, leather dress shoes, and black hats—altogether natty. The women wore dark dresses and heavy bonnets.

I, on the other hand, had chosen an old tee shirt, shorts, and sandals (without socks). Oh, the scandal!

At first, I paid no thought to my attire; I dress this way often, as do many of my fellow Americans. But then, at the end of the “oops, we backed a truck over it cereal” aisle (there’s a reason things are inexpensive in the Mennonite grocery store), I noticed a young Amish boy in his dress finest pointing at my feet with one hand, and trying to hide a laugh with his other hand.

I wasn’t mortified; but I was suddenly very self-conscious. Do Amish, I wondered, have a dress code against sandals? Do my bare ankles offend? How fortunate for me that the adults showed restraint about my apparently tasteless foot gear!

I stewed about this for months; I even took to wearing socks and shoes on my Wednesday shopping trips.

In time, I came to believe that my sandals hadn’t been scandalous in the first place. Many patrons of the Mennonite grocery store wear sandals without socks… and there’s no doubt: if you live in the United States, you’re going to see a lot of naked ankles. So, I’m back to wearing sandals on my Wednesday shopping trips.

Still, I wonder: whatever could that Amish boy have found so funny about my feet?

My Feet

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Sandy C. said...

Awww :) I have the same thing, just on my arms ;)

Daisy said...

maybe you need a pedicure...