DEAR ABBY: I have been wondering about the custom of shoe removal when someone is a guest at the home of the person who practices this custom before entering the house.
When the entryway has several pairs of shoes in plain view, it's obvious the residents remove their footwear before entering the living space. By the way, I am not referring to entering a Japanese home where it is considered disrespectful to leave one's shoes on.
How can a guest handle a situation like this in your standard American home? Is it appropriate to ask if they would like you to remove your shoes? This can be of particular concern to a woman in dressy attire wearing heels or other footwear to complete her outfit. If she removes her shoes, it can ruin the image she's trying to present. Walking barefoot or in stockings could be considering tacky. What is the proper etiquette for these circumstances? -- FOOTLOOSE IN FLORIDA
DEAR FOOTLOOSE: Proper etiquette would be for the hosts to inform prospective guests beforehand about their preference that shoes not be worn inside their home. That way, the person can choose to accept the invitation or not, or dress in such a way that his/her "image" won't be ruined when the shoes come off.
This subject is mentioned in "Emily Post's Etiquette," 17th Edition, by Peggy Post, who says: "While removing your shoes when entering someone else's home isn't typically a part of U.S. culture ... politely asking family, friends and party guests to do so is fine -- especially in locales with long seasons of inclement weather.
"Just make sure you have a stash of comfortable slippers, flip-flops or nonskid slippers or socks for visitors to wear. That way, guests won't feel so uncomfortable about exposing their bare stocking feet. Be careful, though. If you're throwing a more formal party or you don't know your guests all that well, asking them to remove their shoes could be awkward."
DEAR ABBY: I'm in my second year of playing baseball for the Babe Ruth league in my town. I like the sport, but I'm only an average hitter and fielder. I'm not even close to being one of the good players on the team.
My dad puts a lot of effort into trying to make me the best on the team. I try as hard as I can to improve at practice and in the games, but I don't seem to get any better.
One night before Dad went to bed I told him, "I'm sorry I'm not as good as you want me to be." He said, "Don't worry about it. One of these days I'm going to make you into one of the best there is."
I want to be all that my father wants me to be -- and more -- but no matter how hard I try, I just don't have the talent. Should I tell my father that this is the best that I will probably ever get? -- DOING THE BEST I CAN
DEAR DOING THE BEST YOU CAN: Not just yet. Your father may get pleasure from spending the time with you and be unaware of the pressure you're experiencing. Not everyone excels in sports. That's why we have writers, scientists, artists and computer geniuses.
Look at it this way: You were good enough to qualify for the team. Do you still enjoy the game? If it has become a burden, talk to your coach about it. Maybe he can have a talk with your father, and you can share some other activity.
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