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Putting Her Foot Down (Habit: Putting Shoes in the Wash)


Years ago, I wrote a book (never published) about all of the habits of mine that my wife finds annoying. I contend that these are typical male habits. My wife says that they are specific to me. Love to hear your thoughts. I'm now posting these habits weekly on my blog. Please let me know if you agree with me or my wife. The habit below is from the section First Comes "II Do." Then Comes "You Don't."


The Japanese don’t wear shoes in the house. I learned how serious this custom was soon after I arrived in Japan. Within my first week, I heard an urban legend about an American in Tokyo that lost his finger when his ring got caught in a cab door. The American caught the driver’s attention and asked to be taken to the hospital.


Upon arrival, he ran into the emergency room, went up to the intake nurse, and asked for help. The nurse looked at the man, his bleeding hand, and his severed finger, and then pointed him towards the entrance and said, “Remove your shoes.”


I admit this is a good practice. Given what our shoes step on outside, removing them at the door appears to be a hygienic way to live. So, from the time Mo and I got our first place together, we’ve always removed our shoes when we get home. Still, I didn’t have any appreciation for the thoughts behind this custom.


Then came the first time I did our laundry.


Moving in with wife, I wanted to be helpful around the apartment and do my share of the chores. The scream caught me off guard.

“Honey,” my wife yelled, “come here!”


I raced to the laundry room, figuring that my wife had lost one of her fingers somehow. Instead, she stood there, fingers and all with no blood anywhere, pointing at the open dryer. “You washed your tennis shoes with my clothes!”

“Uh . . . yes,” I said.

“The bottoms of shoes are disgusting! Wash them alone! Wash them with your clothes! Don’t EVER wash them with mine!”


I will never forget the glare she gave me that day, or the colorful Japanese vocabulary she uttered. I made a mental note to never do it again.


If you’d seen the horrified look on her face, you wouldn’t forget either.


Does the man in your life ever mix items in the washing machine that shouldn't be mixed?

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