The Luv Doc: Shoeless Joker

A pair of shoes makes a decent funk fence

The Luv Doc: Shoeless Joker

Dear Luv Doc,

Saturday night, I went with some friends to the Alamo Drafthouse to watch Joker. I know Joaquin Phoenix is a great actor, but I found the film very disturbing. It was very dingy and depressing and sad. I will remember it for a long time, not because of its disturbing content, but because of what happened while we were watching the movie. At some point in the middle of the movie, I started smelling something really foul. At first, I thought it might be some sort of strong-smelling cheese that someone had ordered, but after a quick look at the menu, I decided that couldn't be it. Then I turned to my left and noticed that the man two seats over had removed his disgusting, smelly shoes and was fully reclined in his chair with his feet in the air, completely oblivious to the stench. The socks were meant to be white but were actually a dirty, grayish-yellow color, and when I walked by him to get to the bathroom, my suspicion was confirmed ... ugh! So, is it ever okay to take off one's shoes in a public theatre – especially one where food is being served? Is it even legal?

– F This Joker

Nope. Nopity nope nope nope. Never. Not ever. Here's why: People who think their feet don't stink are the same goddamned people who think their farts don't smell or that their pits don't need deodorant. Just. No. Good fences make good neighbors, and generally, but not always, a pair of shoes makes a decent funk fence. There are, of course, a wide range of exceptions.

Old running shoes can get pretty funky. They're sort of the polyester leisure suit of the footwear world. Yes, those space-age materials probably do wick away sweat and toe jam for a year or two, but when your sock starts poking out the hole you've worn in the paper-thin sole, you can rest assured your feet have established residency in Funkytown.

Old Chucks (aka Chuck Taylor All-Stars, worn by aspiring hoop dreamers of the Seventies): These shoes are pretty much standard-issue alternative wear for nerdy types with flat feet and closets full of ironic T-shirts, jorts, and ripped black jeans. People who wear Chucks will wear them until the only thing holding them on is hope and a new pair of laces. Nothing short of a grease dumpster behind a Long John Silver's smells worse than an old pair of Chucks. Even still, the only real way to exorcise these from someone's shoe collection is with a flamethrower.

Birkenstocks: I know these, like Keens, aren't really fucking shoes. They're sandals – just like the $4.99 flip-flops at Old Navy that are only designed to keep you from getting foot fungus in public showers. And yet, there are certain McConaughey-wannabe motherfuckers who will wear flip-flops to everything from a bris to the porta-potty Dillo Dirt mud puddle waiting line at ACL. Same deal with Keens. Yes, we get it. They're super comfy. But just know that I have done a quick survey and the entire rest of humanity is OK with your temporary discomfort so that the smell of your foot cheese doesn't mingle with the scent of our Royale With Cheese.

Is taking your shoes off at a movie theatre illegal? I'm not sure, but it's probably punishable by death in Singapore. If not that, at least a vicious caning. Next time someone chooses to go unshod at the Alamo Drafthouse, you should alert your server. If they get their panties in a wad about unsilenced cell phones, I can only imagine how badly they would have gang-stomped that shoeless bastard.

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