Angie Goes Home
It was Thanksgiving week. Angie Drake and Michelle Burton had been members of the Beta Gamma sorority for a little over two months now. Most people just thought of Beta Gamma as the "barefoot" sorority, which made sense, as all of its members went barefoot all the time.
Angie was in the dorm room she shared with Michelle, working on a paper she needed to finish before leaving for the holiday break. She was having a hard time concentrating. She pulled her knees up to her chin, her naked toes hanging off the edge of her computer chair.
Angie looked at her feet, the feet that had been completely free of any kind of footwear since early September. This was why she couldn't concentrate. Not because she was barefoot; she had actually felt more focused since she had stopped smothering her feet.
No, she was anxious because in a couple of days, she would be going home. Though she was determined to do it, she was still not looking forward to showing up at her parents' door with her feet bared to the world.
Michelle entered the room, tossing her book bag onto the floor.
"Hey Ange," she said. "Man, it's getting a little brisk out there."
"What's the matter? You want to put on some shoes, and some nice, thick socks?" Angie needled her.
"No," Michelle shot back, with mock indignation. "But I am wondering what we're going to do when it gets below freezing around here. I'm just starting to love my toes. I don't want them to fall off from frostbite!"
Angie laughed. "Yeah, I know. I thought about that, too. Tracy says some of the girls will wear moccasins, but no socks, when it gets really cold and snowy. The Beta Gamma code doesn't require frostbite."
"That's good to know," Michelle said. "It still sucks, though. I really want to do the barefoot forever thing."
"Well, Tracy did say that your bare feet can handle some pretty cold temperatures, especially if you're a regular outdoor barefooter," Angie told her. "And the real hardcore girls stay barefoot all winter. They're just careful not to stay out in the cold too long. Ten or fifteen minutes doesn't seem to be a problem."
"Okaaaay," Michelle said, skeptical.
"Tracy swears she's done it," Angie offered.
"Well, I'll just have to see when the time comes," Michelle shrugged. She belly flopped onto her bed, waving her dirty soles up in the air. "So, how are you feeling about the break?"
Angie sighed. "I'm okay, I guess," she said, without much conviction.
"You still haven't told your parents?" Michelle asked.
"No. I'd just rather do it face to face," Angie admitted. "They're not as cool as your parents."
"Yeah, I'm pretty lucky," Michelle agreed.
Michelle had told her parents shortly after joining Beta Gamma. They were skeptical at first, but Michelle had pointed them toward some websites that could answer their concerns. A couple of days later, her mom had called back to say that she had read up on barefooting, and had now taken a few barefoot outings herself.
Angie had listened with a little envy as Michelle and her mom talked for a couple of hours, sharing the joys of going barefoot. Mother and daughter were looking forward to some barefoot togetherness over Thanksgiving.
"I'm sure it'll be fine," Michelle tried to reassure Angie. "You and your mom get along pretty well, right?"
"We do," Angie nodded. "I just don't know how she's going to react to these." She wiggled her toes.
Ah, it was good to be barefoot. But would her mother think so?
Wednesday evening, Michelle dropped Angie off at the train station. Angie waved as Michelle drove off.
Then she turned toward the doors. This was the first part of the test she was setting for herself; going barefoot on public transportation.
She entered the door, and walked through the lobby toward the ticket desk. She felt like everyone was staring at her feet, though no one said anything.
She had been barefoot for two months straight, but this was the first time she'd been away from campus without Michelle or one of the other Beta Gammas.
"Snap out of it!" she told herself. "You're a barefoot girl now. Have some pride."
This seemed to make her feel more confident, and she boldly strode the rest of the way to the desk.
"One ticket to Springfield, please," she told the lady behind the window.
"That'll be thirty three fifty. Train leaves in about an hour," came the response.
Angie paid, took her ticket, and sat down in the waiting area. She stretched out her legs, noticing that her feet had picked up some dirt just in the short walk across the station floor.
"Don't they ever mop?" she laughed to herself. She took a book out of her bag, and started to read.
A few minutes later, she was interrupted. "How come you're not wearing shoes and socks?" came a little voice.
Angie turned to see a little girl, about eight or nine years old, looking at her.
"Hi there. I don't wear them because I like to go barefoot," Angie told her. "Don't you?"
The girl nodded. "Yeah, I like to go barefoot. But my mom says I have to wear shoes sometimes."
"Moms are like that," Angie laughed. "But she lets you go barefoot sometimes, right?"
The girl nodded again. "My mom likes to go barefoot, too."
"That's good," Angie told her. "And you know, once you grow up, you can go barefoot all the time if you want."
"I'm going to do that!" The girl said emphatically.
The girl's mother walked up just then. "Honey, don't bother this lady," she said.
"Oh, she's fine," Angie assured her.
The mother noticed Angie's feet. "I like your shoes," she said. "I'm jealous."
"You should get a pair. They fit great, and they're super comfortable," Angie told her, with a wink.
The mother laughed. "I may do that. I hate wearing shoes!"
She turned to the little girl. "We've got to go, honey. Our train's leaving."
She turned back to Angie. " It was nice meeting you."
"Likewise." Angie watched the two go, wondering if she had made some converts. She turned back to her book.
When it was time for Angie to board her train, she held her breath as she walked past the conductor. He didn't seem to notice her bare feet.
She took her seat and looked out the window, thinking ahead to her homecoming.
A few minutes later, a woman sat down in the seat across from her, engaged in some terribly important conversation on her cell phone. The woman was attractive, probably in her mid-forties, but looked kind of uptight.
She was sharply dressed in a blazer and skirt, with pantyhose and heels. The woman finished her conversation and let out a deep breath as she snapped her phone shut.
"Now maybe I can get some peace," she mumbled to herself. She stared out the window, not seeming to notice Angie.
Once the train started moving, the woman seemed to relax a little bit. She glanced at Angie, then her gaze seemed to settle on Angie's bare feet. She stared at them for a long moment.
Angie tensed, thinking Ms. Fortune 500 was about to make a derisive comment.
"You know, I used to go barefoot all the time when I was your age," she said. "Of course, that was back in the Dark Ages: the mid-seventies. I didn't know girls still did that."
"Some of us do," Angie replied, surprised at the positive response.
"Back then, I could walk over blazing asphalt, sharp gravel. It didn't bother me a bit," the woman said wistfully.
"Then I grew up and had to get a real job," she finished, with a note of disgust.
"You should try it again. It's a real stress reliever," Angie offered.
The woman seemed to consider the idea. She stared at Angie's feet again, bare and free. Then she yanked off her heels.
She wriggled her hose-clad toes. "That does feel pretty good," she admitted.
"Go all the way!" Angie urged. "Get those nasty things off your feet!"
The woman paused, not wanting to go to all the trouble to work her pantyhose off.
"Ah, screw it!" she said, finally. The woman reached into her purse and pulled out a pen. She stabbed it through the nylon, making a hole, and then literally shredded the pantyhose off.
Angie looked at the woman's newly bared feet. They were nicely shaped, and looked like they had been shoe-free for a good period of time in her life.
"Damn, that's awesome," the woman said. "I forgot what it's like to let your feet breathe."
"It sure is," Angie replied. "My feet have been breathing deep for a couple of months straight now."
They both laughed.
"Well, enjoy it while you can, hon," the woman said. "Because sooner or later, you'll end up like me, stuck in high fashion foot prisons most of the time."
"Why?" Angie asked simply.
The woman was rather surprised. "Well, um, because that's just the real world. We all have to live in it eventually," she managed to get out.
"I do live in the real world," Angie responded. "In fact, my real feet touch the real ground all the time. Shoes and socks are artificial."
She hoped she sounded convincing, as this was almost like a rehearsal for the argument she was planning to make to her parents.
The woman thought about it. "That's true, I guess, but things just don't work like that," she said finally. "Don't get me wrong. I think you should keep going barefoot as long as you can. I mean, sitting here barefoot is really making want to keep doing it."
"So, why don't you?" Angie interrupted.
The woman searched for the right words. Angie was really making her think. "Look, when you have a job and bills to pay, you've got to compromise, and you have to do things you don't want to do. And trust me, most bosses are not going to be barefoot friendly."
"Okay, sometimes you have to compromise," Angie agreed. "But when does it end? If you always conform to other people's expectations, it's not really compromise, it's just giving in."
"Alright, you're stubborn," the woman said with a grin. "So let me ask you this: how do you propose to get a job where you can go barefoot all the time? Name me three jobs where you can work barefoot."
Angie thought carefully before answering. She had had this same discussion with other Beta Gammas before, from the other side.
"Lifeguard, dancer, gymnastics instructor," she said.
"Okay," the woman laughed. "I walked into that one. But those are pretty narrow job markets. Do you think you can work for a big company, in an office, with bare feet?"
"No, you're right. There are some places where they will not let you go barefoot, but you've got to think outside the box. Let your job suit your lifestyle, not the other way around. Call the shots in your own life, and don't let others dictate their hang ups to you."
After a moment, the woman nodded. "You know, maybe you have figured it out. You've got me convinced."
"Hey, I live the barefoot life. I think about this stuff a lot," Angie replied. "By the way, you have really nice feet. You should get a toe ring."
"Thanks," the woman blushed slightly, then wiggled her toes. "I just might do that."
The two made small talk for awhile, then the train eased to a stop. "This is where I get off," the woman said, as she gathered her things.
She carried her shoes in her hand.
"You've got strong convictions. That's a rare trait. I wish you the best of luck in staying barefoot. Really."
She reached into her purse and pulled out a business card. "Give me a call if you need a reference, or just some work to get by. I could probably accommodate a barefooter, at least for the most part."
"Thanks. I'll do that," Angie replied, taking the card.
The woman headed off. A few minutes later, Angie saw her through the window.
The woman strode across the platform, still barefoot, shoes in hand. Then she walked up to a trash can, and dropped the expensive pumps in without hesitation. Angie smiled.
The woman continued into the station, happily barefoot. Soon, the train started to move again.
Angie sighed, knowing the next stop was hers. She had managed to convince a sympathetic person that going barefoot was a valid lifestyle option.
Now, could she do the same with her parents? She would find out soon.
Angie stepped off the train, pausing a second to enjoy the brisk coolness of the concrete platform in the November evening air.
She looked down and wiggled her toes. She smiled and reaffirmed her promise to herself. Her feet were finally free after a lifetime of confinement, and nothing her parents said was going to make her imprison them again. She let out a deep breath and started off to find her mom and dad.
It didn't take long. Mr. and Mrs. Drake were waiting near the door to the station. Her father saw her first and smiled widely.
Her mother saw her a second later, but then she smiled, too. Angie noticed that her mom was heavily bundled up, even though it wasn't really that cold.
Her mom always got cold easily. It occurred to Angie that she herself wasn't really that bothered by the cold. Since she had started to go barefoot, it seemed like the circulation throughout her whole body had improved. She was just more comfortable whether it was hot or cold.
Of course, at this moment, the weather was the last thing making her uncomfortable, as she braced herself for the impending confrontation.
Her dad rushed to her and gave her a big hug. "Welcome home, sweetheart. How's my college girl?" he said, with obvious pride. As an only child, Angie had always been the apple of her dad's eye.
"I'm doing great," Angie replied. "But I'm glad to be home for a few days."
"Come here," said her mom, leaning in to give Angie a hug. Then she said, "It's only been a couple of months, but you seem so grown up."
"I guess college life agrees with me," Angie said, blushing slightly.
"Hey, what happened to your shoes? This is a train station, not an airport," Mr. Drake said, with good humor.
Angie's stomach tightened. This was it. Her father had been joking, but this was her moment of truth.
She looked at her dad first, his expression indicating that she must be pulling his leg, and he was waiting for the punchline. A quick glance at her mother showed that Mrs. Drake had not noticed her daughter's bare feet until Mr. Drake had mentioned it. Her mom was staring at them now, a wide-eyed look of horror spreading across her face.
"I don't wear shoes anymore," Angie said simply. She decided it was better to be blunt and not beat around the bush.
"What? Angela Joanne Drake, put on your shoes right now! It's freezing out here!" her mother hissed, trying to keep her voice down.
Angie knew that her parents wouldn't want to make a scene here at the train station, so she had a chance to make her case without a lot of shouting.
"I mean it. I don't wear shoes anymore. Or socks. I got rid of all of them," Angie said.
"That's ridiculous!" Mrs. Drake spat, but she could see that Angie was serious. "Get to the car before you get frostbite!"
Angie rolled her eyes at this, but she knew that there was no point in stalling. If there was going to be a big blow-up in the car, they might as well get to it.
Angie threw her bag into the trunk, then got in the back seat. Her mom lit into her before her dad even started the car.
"You'd better stop this nonsense right now, young lady!" she shrieked. "If you didn't bring any shoes, we're going to get you some right now!"
"No, we're not," Angie said, keeping her cool. "If you buy them, it's a waste of money, because I won't wear them."
Angie's composure was confusing to her mother. This was not just some teenage rebellion, this was a real change in her daughter.
"You will wear them. I will not have my daughter running around like some crazy, homeless freak!" her mother screamed.
"Calm down, Brenda. Let's talk about this in a rational manner," Dad interjected. Mrs. Drake started to say something, but then held her tongue, silently fuming. "So, honey, why don't you want to wear shoes?" her father continued.
"Because I don't need them. They're unnecessary, and the feet I was born with are more than capable of getting me through the world. And there are plenty of other Beta Gammas who are living proof of that," Angie stated.
"So that's it!" Mom roared. "This stupid sorority you joined has filled your head with idiotic notions!"
"It's not idiotic!" Angie shot back, losing her cool for the first time. "It's a lifestyle choice that is mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually healthy! Since I started going barefoot, I've never felt better in my life!"
"Really? So you feel good about frostbite, cutting your feet on glass, rocks, or who knows what?"
"Mom, that's just crap. Once your feet are tough enough, none of that stuff will hurt you. If you ever let your feet breathe, you'd know what I was talking about." Angie scoffed.
"My feet are just fine, thank you! And they are properly shod, as they should be. You know, I think maybe we need to stop sending our money to this crazy college. When you have to support yourself, we'll see how long this barefoot silliness lasts," Mom sneered.
Angie felt like she'd been punched in the stomach. That was possibly her worst fear; that her parents would cut her off. If she had to pay for school all on her own, she'd be in for a rough time.
But if that was the choice she had, she wouldn't flinch. She was not going to wear shoes again, ever.
"Let's not be hasty," her dad chimed in. "We've got time to discuss this. Look, we're home."
Angie and her mom kept silent as he pulled into the garage. Angie grabbed her bag and headed into the house.
"Don't get those filthy feet on the carpet," Mrs. Drake snapped.
"I'll be in my room," Angie said, not wanting to fight anymore.
Angie sat on her bed, staring at her bare feet. They were beautiful to her, and a part of herself that she had grown to love. The now widely spaced toes, the supple muscles of the tops, the perpetually toughening soles. They were so free and vibrant now, so alive.
She adored the toe rings she wore on the second toe of each foot. The thought of confining her feet in shoes, and especially socks, again made her cringe.
She saw a pair of big fuzzy slippers in her closet. She had worn these often; never letting them leave her feet at slumber parties. That had been just a few months ago, but now those slippers seemed like cruel tormentors, all the more cruel since she hadn't even realized what she was missing.
She rubbed her soles along the soft material of the comforter. Such a simple, luxurious act, and yet she couldn't recall ever having done it before on this bed. She was like a person who had worn a blindfold for her entire life. Now she could see, and she never wanted to wear a blindfold again.
There was a knock at the door. "It's Dad," came the voice from the other side.
"Come in," Angie responded, somewhat glad it wasn't her mother.
Mr. Drake stepped into the room and sat on the bed. "How are you doing, sweetheart?" he asked.
"Okay, I guess. How's Mom?"
"She's calmed down. We had a talk, and we're not going to stop helping you pay for school."
Angie breathed a sigh of relief. That was a big weight off her mind.
"But," Dad continued. "She's still not happy about this whole barefoot thing. She's determined that you'll be wearing shoes when you get back on that train."
"I won't do it. I don't care what she thinks," Angie insisted.
"You should care. She's your mother," Dad replied. Then he smiled. "So change the way she thinks. You can practice on me. I'm willing to give you the benefit of the doubt, but I still think this is all a little nuts, too."
Angie had been waiting for this moment. She pulled several Beta Gamma brochures out of her bag and handed them to her dad. As he scanned them, she happily described all the things she had come to love about going barefoot.
Mr. Drake asked questions, and she talked about the sensations of different textures under naked soles, the joy of using her toes to grasp the ground as she walked, the improved health of her feet, the spiritual connection she felt to the earth; in short, all the wonderful freedom of living life unfettered by shoes or socks.
When she had finished, her father nodded his head, mulling it all over.
"Wow. I had no idea. This is wonderful for you, Angie," he said, finally. "I knew there was something different about you when I saw you at the train station. Now I know what it was. It wasn't just going away to college. It was finding something wonderful deep inside yourself. You're not my little girl anymore; you're a young woman who's well on her way to forging her own path in life. And I've never been more proud of you."
"I love you, Dad," Angie said, hugging him tight.
"I love you too, sweetheart," he answered.
The next morning, Angie stepped onto the back porch. She had made it her morning ritual to walk through the dewy grass each day. It always helped to put her in a good frame of mind to start the day.
She stepped onto the lawn, savoring the feel as her feet sank into the grass. It was a brisk Thanksgiving morning, but that only made it more exhilarating.
She walked to the middle of the yard and stopped. She closed her eyes and saluted the sun, wriggling her toes in the cool grass. She loved the contrast of light, heat, wetness, softness, and coolness.
"Good morning, sunshine," came a voice from the porch. It was her mom, dressed in a thick robe, socks and slippers, and holding a cup of coffee.
"Good morning," Angie answered. She walked to the porch, sitting on the edge, so her feet could stay in the grass. Mrs. Drake sat down next to her.
"Your dad showed me those pamphlets," Mom said. "And he told me what you told him. It really made me think." She paused to sip some coffee.
Mrs. Drake continued. "When I was a little girl, I liked to go barefoot. But your grandma went nuts over that. 'Only hippy weirdos and bumpkins go barefoot' she would say. She insisted that I wear shoes all the time. I hated it, but over time, I just kind of forgot what it was like to go barefoot. Then, I guess I just did the same thing to you, like a robot; must wear shoes, must wear shoes, bare feet do not compute." They both laughed. "So, talking with your dad last night, I realized that I had become my mother. That was a slap in the face."
"Aw, Mom, it's okay. It's just what you knew," Angie assured her.
"No, it's not okay, and I shouldn't have saddled you with her hang ups," Mom insisted. "But anyway, my point is that if you want to go barefoot for the rest of your life it's okay with me. I support you, even if I think it's unrealistic. It's your life; you've got to live it your way."
"Thanks, Mom," Angie said, getting a bit misty-eyed. Mother and daughter hugged.
They sat silently for a moment, then Angie piped up, "Why don't you try it?"
"Try what? Oh, you mean ? going barefoot?" Mom caught on.
"Yeah, it's great! You'll love it!"
"Oh, I don't know. I'm not as young as you are," Mrs. Drake said.
"Stop with that. You're still a youthful, beautiful woman," Angie insisted.
Mrs. Drake hesitated a minute longer. "Well, alright, just this once," she said finally.
There was a moment of breathless anticipation as Mrs. Drake eased out of her slippers. Then she slowly peeled off her left sock. As her virgin bare foot was exposed to the cool air, she shivered a bit.
"Too slow!" Angie said, as she reached over and yanked off her mother's right sock, then tossed it into the yard.
"Hey," Mom said, playfully, giving Angie a little shove.
Angie took a few steps onto the lawn. "Come on!" she said.
"Alright, here I go," Mom replied. She took her first steps into the cool, wet grass. She shivered again at the unusual sensation. Quickly, though, she adjusted, and started to enjoy it. "Hey, this does feel pretty good," she admitted.
She remembered what it had been like for her as a barefoot-loving little girl. She felt free again, like she hadn't felt in thirty five years. She started running, savoring the feel of the blades of grass between her toes and under her soles. She kicked the grass, laughing as dew drops splashed everywhere.
Angie just watched, with a knowing smile. She had had the exact same feelings herself just a couple of months earlier.
The two women enjoyed the morning for what seemed like a joyous eternity, and when they finally went back in the house, Mrs. Drake's slippers and socks remained where she had left them, forgotten and unneeded.
That night, after a great Thanksgiving meal, Mr. Drake came up to the bedroom. Mrs. Drake was reading in bed, wearing her normal pajamas and socks.
"Brenda, I think we raised a pretty good kid, in spite of ourselves," he laughed.
"We sure did," Mrs. Drake nodded, putting her book aside. "Is she still up?"
"Yeah. She's downstairs watching a movie," he replied. He began to get ready for bed.
"Roger?" Mrs. Drake asked.
"Yes, hon?" he answered.
"Could you take off my socks?"
The request took him by surprise. He couldn't recall her ever asking him to do that before. The look in her eyes told him that she had a lot more in mind, too.
He walked over and sat down on the bed, in front of her eagerly outstretched feet. He grabbed the toe of her right sock, slowly pulling it off as if he were unveiling a delicate treasure. Then he repeated the same careful unveiling with the left sock.
Brenda's exposed bare feet were a rare sight, and she had never invited him to look at them at any length, as she was now. He noticed the softness of her soles, the delicate curve of her arch, the delightful perfect shape of her toes. Even though she had always been a shoe-wearer, her feet still maintained a nice form.
It must be genetics, he thought, as he realized the similarities between his wife's and his daughter's feet. Of course, Angie's feet were far more developed and tough than Brenda's, but that might change in the near future.
"Do whatever you want to them. Just make them feel good," she said.
And he did. And they enjoyed pleasure like they hadn't had since they were young lovers. And when they finally fell asleep, late into the night, Roger held Brenda's bare feet cradled lovingly in his hands.
Michelle was waiting for Angie at the train station.
"So, how'd it go?" she asked, when Angie got back to the waiting area.
"Not too bad, really. I don't think my mom is Beta Gamma material yet, but I suspect her shoe closet won't be as full next time I go home," Angie told her. "And check this out."
Angie pulled a photograph out of her bag. It showed a smiling Angie and Brenda Drake, their arms around each other's shoulders, proudly displaying their bare soles to the camera.