All right, everyone, put away your white shoes. Labor Day is over.
No matter how many things I forget, I always remember what my mother taught me about wearing white shoes after labor Day: Don't do it!
Such rules may seem meaningless and shallow. This is because they are meaningless and shallow. Yet they are important because they give the impression that we are in control of our lives, lives that are orderly and predictable. Without this impression, we would be even more nervous than we already are. Eastern meditation and Western medication might not be enough to do the trick anymore, in which case everything would just fall apart.
If you want to take that gamble, go right ahead. Keep wearing those white shoes.
It is worthy of note that even during the Sixties and Seventies, decades of sweeping social change and youthful rebellion, you didn't catch a whole lot of people wearing white shoes after Labor Day. I had the opportunity to be around hippies and other alternative groups then, and I can tell you that, however zealously they flouted American conventions, they never went so far as to wear white shoes after Labor Day. It was as if they instinctively understood that was the limit. It's kind of cosmic.
When I was in Houston, Texas, during the Seventies, the main people I saw sporting white shoes at any time of year were businessmen and evangelical proselytizers. I theorize that they wanted to demonstrate that they had made a clean break with such occupations as cattle roping and truck farming. Who could step out of a corral or a barnyard in such pristine footwear? This personal message, conventional in its own right, raises ethnological considerations that may supersede the no-white-shoes-after-Labor-Day dictum. That doesn't make it right, though.
There are exceptions. Brides may walk down the aisle in white, wearing white shoes. White shoes may be worn with impunity by toddling babies, nurses and athletes.
While you're putting the shoes away, you might as well pack up your white skirts and pants - unless they're part of a uniform, in which case leave them out by all means, I don't want to get you in trouble. Wool and winter white are are all right. If you want to wear white underwear, that's a matter of choice, or religious conviction.
The beginning of school marks a new year for all of us, consciously or unconsciously, a relict of our dear old golden rule days. Even if we're not buying notebooks and Ticonderoga pencils, we're likely to be making resolutions. I'm sure this will be the year we will succeed in our resolve to be cool and popular.
Have you looked at your refrigerator lately? I mean the outside. You need to replace all the summer schedules with fall and winter schedules.
A woman I met at a gift store told me "I don't do magnets." What! American refrigerators are essentially large magnet-laden bulletin boards, I told her.
No, she said, although she herself does not do magnets, she considers the refrigerator door a folk art medium. I have dibs on that idea, by the way.
Whether or not it's art, the refrigerator door is due for an overhaul. Pile all the invitations, brochures, photographs and other once valuable pieces of paper on the counter, along with the magnets. That orange juice carton is teetering, you might have noticed. Yes, it's an accident waiting to happen, and while it wouldn't be difficult to put the juice back into the refrigerator, the gamble is a kind of challenge. Will the carton stay put, or will it - darn. Now I have to wash the floor too, or my shoes will stick to the linoleum. Not my white shoes, though. they're up in the closet.
I've already started reorganizing the closet, by flinging all of my sweaters off the shelves onto the floor. I've been careful to step over them for the last couple of days.
"Oh well," says my friend Sam, who wants me to go sit outside and watch all the people in their cars migrating south on state Route 73, "they'll still be there in the morning."
I know, I say, that's the trouble. Sam says she regrets not climbing Giant Mountain, which was one of her goals for this summer. I tell her it will still be there in the morning too. We're going to go sit in the front yard now.
Have a good week.