As does any biologist studying nature, I occasionally discover a new creature
- one that has never been seen before or one that was heretofore classified
incorrectly because of its similarity to something else. Recently, I
encountered a woman who didn't quite fit any of the previous designations,
and so I am now forced to create a new classification of American Barefoot
The category of Confused Barefoot Girl has been added to the list of
descriptions. And, again, as the progress of science marches on, I find
that, in creating this new classification, a number of the other women I have
encountered in the past actually fit better into this new category then into
any of the others.
And so, let us begin our analysis of the Confused Barefoot Girl.
Learn by Example
The best way to describe the characteristics of the Confused Barefoot Girl
is to explain by example using the situation that finally forced me to
create this new classification. I'm sure many of you will have seen
this type of creature, so I believe the descriptions will sound familiar.
I needed to ride the bus into town, and pulled up to the bus stop on my
bicycle. It was one of those little "bus shelters" with a roof and a
bench. A gentleman was already sitting on the bench.
As I approached, he asked me if I thought the 1:00 bus was still
coming. It was a few minutes after the bus should have arrived, and in
our area disappearing buses are commonplace, so it was a perfectly reasonable
My bike ride from home to the bus stop had taken me right along the path the
bus would also take to get there, but I saw no sign of it. Still, like
the gentleman, I also wanted to believe that it would be forthcoming, so I
told him that I absolutely thought the bus would be arriving soon.
A half-block or so down the street, a young man and woman sauntered
groggily. It turns out that they, too, had been waiting for the bus for
several minutes. Apparently, they had gotten bored from sitting on the
bench and had taken to pacing slowly up and down the street near the stop,
The girl was wearing those sandals that have become quite popular recently,
the kind which are basically flip-flops with a strap that goes around the
heel. Her toenails were polished an unremarkable, dark color, but they
still looked nice.
The two of them walked back to the stop, lingered there for a few minutes,
and then went into the store which was on the other side of the adjacent
Eventually, the man who had been waiting got back onto his bike and rode
away. By then, the bus was over fifteen minutes late.
The young man and woman came back and sat down on the now empty
bench. Then, within a minute or so of sitting down, the girl took
off her shoes.
And this is where it gets interesting...
Barefoot or not?
Of course, I was thriled to see her finally bare her feet. Although
the sandals offered a near complete view, she still was not barefoot until
she finally took her shoes off and made it real.
I had been standing in the shade of a nearby tree, looking in their direction,
waiting for exactly that moment. Suddenly, I couldn't really care less
how late the bus ended up being.
And this is when I began to notice something. It can get pretty hot
where I live, but the girl and guy were sitting in the shade, so there was
no reason to expect the ground to be particularly warm. Even so,
the woman slid her shoes back and forth under her feet whenever she changed
position, always making sure that her feet were resting on them.
Once in awhile, she would stick her legs out in front of her and stretch
and flex her toes (yikes!), but then she would put them right back down on
the shoes. Not on the ground, on the shoes.
I became fascinated. Obviously, the girl was content to have her
practically non-existent shoes off, and yet she was meticulously careful
not to let her feet touch the ground. I couldn't explain it.
She even stood up once - right on top of her shoes. She made no
effort to slip the shoes on, she just stood up on them, smashing the straps
and making sure that her soles were still on top of the platform of the
I began to wonder whether or not this girl really qualified as being
"barefoot." I mean, she didn't technically have shoes on, but at the
same time, her feet never came into contact with the ground.
Finally, the bus did arrive. The woman slipped her toes into her
shoes, but she did not bother to pull the straps up around her heel.
She picked the perfect place to sit, because it allowed me to also pick
a spot where I could continue to keep an eye on her feet. And
still the madness continued.
Immediately after sitting down, she slipped the shoes off
again. And, again, she made sure to never let her feet touch the
floor. Her toes grabbed and played with the seat belt that was dangling
from beneath the seat in front of her (double-yikes!), but her feet never
contacted the floor. Not once. In a trip that lasted almost
It got to the point where I wanted to say to her, "It's okay! Your
feet can touch the floor! They're supposed to!" But then she
would have been even more confused.
When the bus was nearing her stop, she put the shoes back on, fully
strapping them behind her heel. She and her companion got off and began
walking down the street.
I wondered for a moment, Who was more confused? Her or me?
A New Designation
After thinking about it, and discussing it with some other highly-evolved
men, I realized that what I was looking at was an entirely new category of
Barefoot Girl. She was a Confused Barefoot Girl. She
obviously wanted to be barefoot, but was confused about what that means, or how
I wonder how best I could have helped her. I'm sure that admonishing her
and just telling her to dump the shoes would not have been it. She was
obviously confused, and would need to have been treated gently.
I wish the guy she was with would have stepped in. But, perhaps, he was
in the same boat I was. Wondering how you tell a girl who obviously
wants to go barefoot that she should just do it.
Fortunately, I created this web site to answer just these sorts of
questions. Visit the
For Bare Feet page for ideas on how to help
all people everywhere realize the beauty of going barefoot.
Now, continue your journey of learning, moving on
the Confused Barefoot Girl to the
Accidental Barefoot Girl
return to the Barefoot Girl Spotter's Guide.
Return to Home Page.