Michelle Burton and Angie Drake were on their way to the Student Union at Midwestern State University. The two eighteen-year old freshmen were roommates at the dorm, and though they had met just two weeks before, at the start of the fall semester, they had already become pretty good friends.
This calculus class is killing me! Michelle groaned.
Two weeks in, and Im already lost.
At least youre not in advanced honors English, Angie replied.
Ive already got a 20 page paper due.
Yeah, but at least youre into creative writing. Im an art major who has to take calculus! Michelle shot back.
Well, I guess it sucks to be you! Angie said,
and mockingly stuck out her tongue. Michelle shoved her playfully, and the two laughed. They noticed a girl walking past them, wearing a sorority t-shirt with the letters beta and gammaon it. The girl looked like any other college student, except that she was barefoot, without a shoe or sock in sight. The girl was walking down the sidewalk without a care. She smiled and nodded at Michelle and Angie as she passed them. After the girl had gone some distance, Angie spoke quietly to Michelle.
You know, thats like the tenth girl Ive seen walking around
barefoot since we got here.
Ive seen several, too, Michelle replied. Whats up with that?
That girl had a sorority shirt. Maybe its an initiation thing.
Could be. Actually, I think its kind of cool, Michelle laughed.
Let your toes be free, right? She wiggled her toes in her flip-flops.
Whatever, Angie rolled her eyes. Her feet were just fine in her tennis shoes and socks.
The two girls came around the corner of a building
and saw a big crowd milling around. About two dozen tables were set up, with banners emblazoned with Greek letters hanging from them. The various frats and sororities were all trying to draw interest
in their group, whether through academic standards, social standing or good old fashioned partying. Angie and Michelle had little interest in paying for friends as they saw it, so they decided to give the affair a wide berth. Then Michelle noticed something at the edge of the crowd. A table with a Beta Gamma banner, and three girls wearing matching Beta Gamma shirts. The three girls were barefoot. The Beta Gammas werent making any grand performance to draw attention, they just seemed to be letting those who were interested come to them.
Hey, look at that! Michelle nudged Angie.
Lets find out what the barefoot thing is about. Angie shrugged, though she was a little curious. The two girls went over to the Beta Gamma table.
Hi, Im Tracy Hoffman, president of Beta Gamma,
said a cute brunette. Are you guys interested?
Well, a little bit, answered Michelle. We were wondering
whats up with the whole barefoot thing?
Really? Youre the first ones to ever ask about it, Tracy
deadpanned, then she and the other two Beta Gammas laughed.
No, seriously, its a statement that we make, for a lot of reasons,
one of which is to show that were not your stereotype sorority.
So, its just a gimmick? Angie asked.
Oh, no, Tracy replied. We go barefoot all the time, everywhere.
All the time? Everywhere? Angie repeated. Tracy nodded.
Angie and Michelle looked at each other, a bit confused.
Tracy laughed again. Here, why dont you take some of our
literature and see for yourself. Our phone number and e-mail is on the back if you want to know more. She handed Angie and Michelle several pamphlets, and the two continued on their way to the Student Union.
Barefoot all the time? Thats crazy, Angie stated, after they had walked a bit.
Yeah, I guess, Michelle replied, but she seemed lost in thought.
That night, Angie sat at her computer, working on her English paper.
Michelle lounged on her bed, reading through the Beta Gamma pamphlets.
For some reason, she was fascinated.
According to the literature, the Beta Gamma sorority
was founded in 1979, by a young woman named Jane Geiser.
Jane wanted to create a sorority that provided a progressive and
empowering atmosphere for college girls, something that was not
about social climbing or drunken parties.
The barefoot thing was a big part of the Beta Gamma philosophy.
Going barefoot at all times showed that a young woman was strong,
yet vulnerable, tough but sensual.
It was healthy to go barefoot, moreso than wearing shoes, really.
The pamphlet listed testimonials from several Beta Gammas who
noted that they felt more alive and energized once they started
going barefoot all the time.
Shoes and socks are evil! said a girl from Kansas.
A girl from Virginia raved that Its amazing how much you
can enjoy the world through the soles of your feet!
I never knew how much I was suffocating my feet until I
let them breathe! offered a girl from Idaho.
Michelle looked at her own feet and wiggled her toes.
She always kicked off her shoes when she got home, but she
had never thought much about it, until today.
Now, the idea of not wearing shoes or socks ever again
seemed very appealing.
She looked over at Angie, typing away on the computer.
As always, Angie wore her tennis shoes and socks.
It occurred to Michelle that Angie was almost never barefoot.
She wore slippers to and from the shower, and always put on
socks after she had dried off.
She always slept in socks, too.
Michelle had known other girls like that, but suddenly,
it just seemed strange.
Hey, Angie, Michelle called. You should read this.
Its pretty interesting. Angie snorted derisively.
No thanks. Im not interested in being a Greek hobbit,
she replied, not looking away from the screen.
Seriously. Theyre not just about going barefoot to
be weird, Michelle said. Theyre into civil rights, protecting
the environment, promotion of the arts and a lot of grassroots stuff.
Angie turned around. That was interesting.
One thing she liked about Michelle was the fact that they
shared some pretty strong progressive left-wing beliefs.
Well, okay. Ill take a look. Give me some of that stuff.
Angie started to read about the Beta Gammas, as Michelle dialed the phone.
Is this Tracy? she asked, after someone answered.
Great! Hi. This is Michelle Burton.
We met at your table today.
My friend Angie and I were interested in learning more
about Beta Gamma. She paused for the response.
Thatll be fine. Well be there! See you then!
Michelle hung up. Angie looked up from the pamphlet.
Theyre having a meeting for new pledges tomorrow night. Youre in, right?
Yeah, yeah, Angie nodded. I do like what they stand for,
but this going barefoot thing is pretty wacky. Michelle looked
a bit crestfallen.
Dont worry. Im going with you, Angie assured her.
Michelle brightened up instantly.
Angie couldnt sleep.
The ideals of the Beta Gammas appealed to her,
but she kept thinking about bare feet.
It wasnt that she was grossed out by feet, or thought they were ugly.
It was just that the idea of going barefoot everywhere was
so alien to her, and to the way she had grown up.
Her parents had always insisted that shoes and socks be worn at all times.
Open toed shoes were not acceptable.
Slippers were to be worn any time shoes and socks were not necessary.
Socks were not explicitly required for sleep, but her parents
wore socks to bed, so it was just assumed.
Even at the pool or beach, she was expected to wear those
lame slip on aqua shoes unless she was actually swimming in a pool.
She had seen Michelle and plenty of other girls walk around
the dorm or their houses barefoot, but it was just not something
she didnt or couldnt do. Or could she?
Angie finally drifted off to sleep, and she dreamed.
She was standing in a forest somewhere.
She liked the woods, and started walking, enjoying the sights and sounds.
For some reason, she felt clumsy, and kept tripping and stumbling.
She heard some soft laughter, and turned to see a young woman sitting in a tree.
It was Tracy, the Beta Gamma president.
She was barefoot, of course.
Angie could see the soles of Tracys feet.
They were a little dirty, but it just seemed appropriate.
Her toes were spread out, and they seemed to be the most beautiful feet
in the world, natural and free.
Take those stupid things off your feet. Its great!
Tracy gently urged.
Angie looked at her feet.
She was wearing her normal shoes and socks, but they just seemed
ugly and heavy for some reason.
Suddenly, her shoes started untying themselves.
She kicked her left shoe off, then the right.
They disappeared somewhere in the woods, and she didnt care.
Then her socks seemed to just slide off her feet.
They vanished in the underbrush, not to be seen again.
Angie looked at her bare feet.
Of course she recognized them, but they were still unfamiliar to her.
She wiggled her toes, and dug them into the soft earth. It felt great.
Tracy jumped down from the tree. There you go! Isnt that better?
Angie nodded in agreement. Well come on! Tracy said moving
off into the woods.
Angie followed, savoring the dirt, leaves and twigs under her liberated soles.
Her feet felt alive for the first time in her life.
Soon Tracy and Angie came out into a wide meadow.
The grass was heavenly between Angies toes.
A whole group of girls wearing Beta Gamma t-shirts was waiting for them.
Michelle was with them.
Every foot was bare and wonderful.
Bursting with joy, Tracy and Angie rushed to join the group,
eager to leave those awful shoes and socks behind forever.
Angie woke from her dream with a pleasant feeling.
Except in her sock imprisoned feet.
They felt hot, almost like they were burning up.
She worked her right sock off with her left toe, and then
did the same with the left sock.
Just the feel of the warm air under the blanket was a sensation
on her naked feet.
Wow, thats so great, she thought.
She fell back to sleep, smiling and wiggling her freed toes.
Angie and Michelle got ready for the get together at the
Beta Gamma house.
They had decided to dress nice, but casual.
Then it came down to the question of footwear.
Michelle was torn between a pair of flip flops or some dressier sandals.
Of course, the third choice, which she was also weighing,
was just to go barefoot.
The sandals go better with your outfit, but flip flops
are probably fine, Angie said. I doubt these girls are too worried
about coordinating shoes. Michelle laughed.
Thats true, but Im not quite sure Im ready to go all
the way yet, she answered. Of course, youre not even going part of the way.
Michelle nodded at Angies loafers and trouser sock clad feet.
Yeah, yeah, I know. Look, were not members of this house yet.
Were just checking it out, Angie grumbled.
Okay, but dont you want to borrow a pair of my sandals,
or something? Michelle offered.
No, Im fine. Just decide what youre doing already.
Were going to be late, Angie replied.
Alright, Ill go with the flips. I dont want to be barefoot
by myself. Michelle slipped on her flip flops, wiggling her toes
to make sure they were on al the way.
A part of her was disappointed.
She thought if Angie would have at least worn sandals,
she would have had the courage to go barefoot.
Angie and Michelle arrived at the Beta Gamma house.
It was a large three story house at the end of a cul-de-sac.
There was a big, well-maintained yard, and a wooded area behind it.
The noise from inside told the girls that they were probably some
of the last arrivals.
They stepped onto the porch, and noticed a pile of shoes.
There was also a mat with two rainbow colored bare foot prints stenciled on it.
Michelle rang the bell. Tracy answered the door.
Hey, glad you could make it! Tracy greeted.
She looked down at their feet, and laughed. I always wonder
whos going to show up with shoes on. Its about fifty-fifty.
Go ahead and kick those things off and come on in!
Michelle had no problem with going barefoot inside,
and added her shoes to the pile by the door. Angie hesitated.
Id really rather not right now, she said, almost
embarrassed. Tracy shrugged.
Suit yourself. But I imagine youll change your
mind pretty quickly. Angie and Michelle followed Tracy inside.
Michelle leaned close to Angie.
Youre going to look sillier with shoes on than
you will going barefoot, she whispered. Angie shot a hard
look at her friend, but didnt answer.
She did feel a little foolish, but she wasnt ready to go barefoot,
especially in front of a bunch of strangers.
Tracy led them into the main living room area.
About thirty girls were gathered for the meeting.
All of them appeared to be barefoot.
A few seemed a little timid about it, curling their feet under them,
but most of the girls didnt mind at all.
Angie did notice one girl, standing kind of shyly in the corner,
who was wearing shoes and socks. Angie was a little relieved.
At least she wasnt the only one.
Introductions were made, and the girls mingled.
Angie made her way to the other shod girl.
The girl looked up and gave her a nervous smile.
Hi there. Glad to see Im not the only shoe loving
weirdo in this place, Angie offered. Im Angie, by the way.
Im Lena. Nice to meet you, The girl seemed to perk up.
So what are you doing here? I came with a friend
who was really interested, Angie asked.
I wanted to join a sorority, because my mom had been in one,
but all the other ones seemed kind of stuck-up and mean.
The Beta Gammas were the only ones who were nice,
Lena explained. And theyre still nice, she quickly added. I was just by myself
because I felt kind of awkward.
Yeah, this whole barefoot thing is weird, Angie added.
I mean whats wrong with a nice pair of shoes? Or socks?
Actually, I love to go barefoot! Lena exclaimed.
I just dont like to do it in front of other people.
Why not? Angie asked, wondering how she
herself would answer that question.
Because my feet are ugly, Lena said sheepishly.
Oh, I doubt that. And so what? Theyre just feet!
Everybody has them, Angie reassured her.
Look, all these girls are barefoot.
Do you really think your feet are so ugly they would stand out in the crowd?
Lena mulled it over for a minute. Then she smiled.
Youre right! I should just do it, Lena said.
She quickly yanked off her left shoe, then the right.
Then her socks were pulled off in an instant, then wadded up and stuck in her shoes.
Lena happily wriggled her freshly bared toes in the soft carpet.
Thats it! Oh, this is good!
Actually, you have really pretty feet. I guess going barefoot
has been good for them, even in private, Angie said.
Oh, thanks! I guess they are kind of cute, Lena laughed.
Hey, you should take your shoes and socks off, too! It feels great!
Uh, well, no, Im not sure about that yet.
Maybe later, Angie stammered.
She could tell Lena was happier barefoot, and watching the girls feet
revel in their new freedom made her a little jealous.
Deep down, she thought that she did want to join in, but something still stopped her.
Shed told Lena they were just feet. Angie had feet, too.
So what was wrong with her? Why couldnt she bring herself to just go barefoot?
Tracy stepped into the center of the room.
Everyone stopped talking and gave her their attention.
First of all, Id like to thank all of you for coming.
For the pledges, and potential pledges, I hope you like what youve
seen so far, and I hope youll join us. For the Beta Gamma sisters,
Id like to thank you for making everyone so welcome.
Tracy addressed the group. Now, Id like to give you my version
of what Beta Gamma sorority is all about. I know youve read
the pamphlets, but I think a personal insight is good to have, too.
She looked around the room, taking care to make eye contact
with all the newcomers.
Jane Geiser started Beta Gamma because she couldnt find what
she was looking for in any other sorority.
She wanted something that was about celebrating the power of being female.
All she saw in other sororities was a breeding ground for
trophy wives and snobs.
To be fair, thats a generalization, but it was Janes experience.
So anyway, Jane founded her own sorority, for young women who had
been excluded, or just felt like they didnt fit in to the traditional
sorority girl role.
Tracy let her words sink in for a moment, then she continued.
Beta Gamma is for all the girls who are too brainy, too tomboyish,
too shy, too sensitive, too non-conformist, too whatever, to be accepted
by other sororities.
We believe in total acceptance of ones spiritual beliefs and sexual
preferences. We dont turn our noses up at anyone who doesnt fit
some preconceived mold.
We believe in making the world a better place, not just in getting
a big diamond on your finger or snaring the perfect man,
she paused, then said, Not that we have anything against men.
I mean, I happen to like them a lot.
Some giggles rippled through the crowd. Well, thats all Ive got.
Now Id like to turn it over to a few of the sisters to
share their thoughts. Phoebe?
Phoebe took Tracys place at the center of the room.
Phoebe looked like a classic hippy chick.
She wore a flowing gypsy skirt and a peasant blouse.
She had bangle bracelets on both arms and both ankles.
She had three toe rings on each foot.
Seeing Phoebes beautiful feet made Michelle instantly decide
she was going to get some toe rings.
To Angie, it looked like Phoebe had never worn shoes in her life,
and it was amazing.
Her feet were perfect.
It almost made Angie want to rip off her shoes and socks,
but she resisted the urge.
Two years ago, I came to Midwestern State, and was a
total fish out of water, Phoebe explained. I grew up in a
small commune, and had never seen anything like this. I mean,
I had a good education at the commune, so I wasnt a total ignoramus,
but it was almost like culture shock.
It didnt seem like there was anyone like me. I was becoming
desperate just to fit in, I almost bought a pair of Nikes.
A few good-natured boos from the crowd. I know. It was that bad.
I mean, Im a girl whos been barefoot since birth.
My mom never saw a need to put shoes on me, and neither did I.
Luckily, I happened to meet a Beta Gamma, Lupe, literally 100 feet
from the shoe store.
She noticed my bare feet, and of course I noticed hers.
We struck up a conversation, and the rest is history.
Really, I dont think I would have made it past the first semester
if it hadnt been for Beta Gamma.
Phoebe drew a round of applause as she finished.
Thanks, Phoebe, Tracy said. Good thing we saved your
feet before they got ruined by those Nike prisons.
Everyone laughed. Colleen?
Colleen took her place in the middle.
She looked like a total preppy, homecoming queen type.
She wore a Beta Gamma t-shirt and stylish jeans.
Of course, instead of trendy footwear, she was barefoot.
Angie could tell Colleen had worn shoes in her life, but her feet
were still natural and beautiful in a way she had really never seen before tonight.
I was one of those stuck-up sorority snobs, Colleen confessed.
My freshman year, I was Zeta Rho Tau.
One of the worst. I thought everything was great, and I was on top of the world.
Then I found out one of my Zeta sisters was sleeping with my boyfriend.
When I went to my other sisters for support, they laughed at
me for being so stupid.
They had all known about it for months and thought it was a big joke.
They had bets on how long it would take me to figure it out,
Colleen paused, obviously a bit shaken up, even now.
I ended up just crying on a bench on campus.
I wanted to die. Then a few girls from Beta Gamma were passing by,
and they stopped to help me out.
They didnt know who I was or anything, they just wanted to
help out because they could see I was hurting. Thats pretty rare in this world.
A tear dripped down her face, but she composed herself.
After we talked for awhile, the girls invited me to go camping
with them that night.
I went, because I sure didnt have anything better to do at that moment.
Then she laughed. The funny thing is, Colleen continued,
was that I was so upset that I didnt even register that the girls were
all barefoot until later on, around the campfire.
Then I asked them about it, and they explained the whole barefoot
philosophy of Beta Gamma. Right then, I ripped off my shoes and socks
and threw them in the fire.
I havent worn any since. I think some of my old shoe stores must
have gone bankrupt without my business.
Everyone applauded, and Colleen got some pats on the back as she sat back down.
Tracy came to the center of the room once again.
Just for the record, burning shoes and socks is not a good idea.
The smell is terrible, Tracy joked. Well, thanks Colleen, we love you.
Now, Im sure some of you pledges have questions. Whod like to start?
A girl in the front raised her hand.
Im totally down with the bare feet. Man, I hate shoes!
The girl stated. But my question is, dont you get a lot of grief
from the administration?
I went barefoot a few times in high school, and they acted like
I brought dynamite to class! That drew some knowing laughs.
Well, first of all, Midwestern is a pretty liberal school,
so they dont care too much about harmless self-expression.
Second, we have the highest combined GPA of any Greek organization
on campus. We make the rest of them look good.
And most importantly, we do a lot of good work in the community.
People see us and say hey, youre the barefoot girls!, and its a good thing.
A few years ago, an elderly lady lost her house in a fire.
The Beta Gammas were there the next day helping to rebuild it,
barefoot of course.
It was all over the news, and the town gave us a public service award.
Tracy pointed out a bronze plaque on the wall. So, the short answer is: no,
we dont get hassled by the administration.
What about jobs? I mean, after graduation? another girl piped up.
Going barefoot while were here is cool, but how does it help us in
the real world?
Good question, Tracy began. Its true some of us end up
in shod jobs, but youd be surprised how many options you have to work barefoot.
An awful lot of Beta Gammas become entrepreneurs, setting their own
work rules, and being very successful at it.
And, thats another plus to sisterhood.
We can put you in touch with alumni who are very barefoot friendly
and can give you great jobs. Its sort of our version of an old boy network.
Several of the girls looked at each other, liking the sound of that.
I have a question, Angie said. Whats the point of going
barefoot all the time? I know what the pamphlet said about strength
and making a statement and all that. But why is it so important for
all of you to be barefoot? I just dont get it.
Im not surprised that you were the one to ask that question,
Tracy began. And theres a very good answer to it.
The reason we always go barefoot is because its good
for us, on a physical, mental and spiritual level, Tracy said.
Really, its as simple as that.
But thats not really an answer.
Thats just an opinion, Angie protested.
Okay, fair enough, Tracy admitted.
So let me explain it: human feet are meant to be bare.
Whatever your concept of the origin of life, people have always been barefoot.
No one has ever been born with shoes or socks on.
Our feet are meant to feel the air.
Our soles are meant to have contact with the earth.
Our toes are meant to flex and grasp and be useful appendages.
Tracy reached into her pocket and dropped a coin on the floor.
Angie was amazed as Tracy used her toes almost like fingers,
effortlessly picking up the coin.
Tracy held it between her big and second toes, then flipped the
coin into the air and caught it in her hand, slipping it back into her pocket.
And I can write with my toes, work a TV remote, just about anything.
I can do this because Ive gone barefoot constantly for the last three years.
My feet are living, breathing, fully functional parts of my body,
not just stumps that I use to stand on.
My feet are perfectly healthy, something most shoe wearers cant say.
Alright, so your feet get exercise. It makes sense that they
would be healthier, Angie agreed.
Okay, but theres more. Mentally, my senses are more alert.
Im constantly in touch with my surroundings.
Having my feet free keeps my stress level down.
With less stress, I can focus on what Im doing and stay sharp.
Remember when I said we had the highest GPA in the Greek system?
Thats not a coincidence.
Angie seemed skeptical, but she appeared to be mulling it over.
And then theres the spiritual component, Tracy continued.
Its not something that can be explained scientifically, but there is
a real connection to the natural world that you can only get from
walking barefoot over its surface.
Shoes are a barrier that separates humanity from its roots.
Keeping your feet bare grounds you, but lets your spirit soar at the same time.
When were barefoot, we feel closer to our fellow humans.
For us specifically, it strengthens our bonds of sisterhood.
So, thats why we go barefoot. Did I answer your question?
Yeah, I guess you did, Angie responded.
So take those things off! Tracy urged. Several others
voiced their agreement.
Angie suddenly felt very awkward.
I just I dont I just cant. I feel like Im just being pressured,
Okay, thats cool. Were not about forcing anyone to
do something theyre uncomfortable with. Lets have a hand for
Angie, Tracy said.
The crowd applauded, offering her praise for being true to herself.
Angie felt better.
Alright, enough of the serious stuff! Lets have some fun!
Somebody turned on some music, and the girls got back to socializing.
Michelle gave Angie a hug.
Hey, its alright. If this isnt your thing, we can still be
friends, Michelle laughed.
Angie smiled. The problem was, deep down, Angie thought this
was her thing, if she could just let herself go.
Later, Angie and Michelle left the party.
Michelle slipped her feet back into her flip flops.
Angie started to say something, but held her tongue.
They had gone about 100 feet when Michelle stopped.
Hey, what am I doing? I dont need these things
anymore! she exclaimed.
She swiped her flip flops off and carried them in her hand.
She started walking again. The sensation of the cool sidewalk under
her now naked soles was exhilarating.
She stepped onto the grass, and it was even more exhilarating.
It wasnt like she had never walked barefoot on those surfaces before,
but now she was just somehow more aware of it all.
Yeah, I think I could get used to this real fast. She noticed a garbage can
She ran up to it, and dropped her flip flops in.
Are you sure you want to do that? Angie was stunned.
Yeah, Im sure. More sure than Ive ever been in my life, Michelle stated.
This is great!
Michelle started turning cartwheels out of sheer joy.
When she had finished, she said, Hey, some of the girls were going out dancing.
Lets go meet them!
No, you go ahead. Im just going to go back to the dorm, Angie replied.
Okay, well, Ill catch you later, then, Michelle raced off, relishing
the ground under her feet and the air between her toes.
Angie walked a little further, then stopped.
She turned around and headed back to the Beta Gamma house.
She rang the doorbell, and Tracy answered.
Can we talk? In private? Angie asked.
Sure, Tracy said. Hey, guys, Im going to take five,
she called to the other sisters who were helping to clean up after the party.
Tracy showed Angie to the sorority houses office.
Angie took a seat, while Tracy sat behind the desk, propping her feet up.
Angies gaze was drawn to the other girls perpetually bare feet.
The thin layer of dirt on the sole, contrasted with the whiteness of the arch.
The perfectly formed toes that seemed to unconsciously flex, as if in
response to the limitless freedom they enjoyed.
The cute toe ring with a butterfly on it encircling Tracys left second toe.
So, whats up? Tracy asked, snapping Angie back to her surroundings.
Well, I guess, you see the thing is, I really like what the
Beta Gammas stand for, and I think I would like to be a member,
but its just..., Angie trailed off.
Just that you cant bring yourself to go barefoot all the time,
or even any of the time? Tracy guessed.
Angie nodded sheepishly. I know it seems weird, Tracy continued.
Youre probably wondering; how come theyre so open and liberal
about everything, but so strict about bare feet?
Angie was listening. All that stuff I said earlier about going barefoot
being good for you, inside and out, is true, but theres more.
Going barefoot is also a symbol of just how were different from any
other sorority out there, and everyones unity makes that symbol even stronger.
If any Beta Gamma wears shoes, even flip flops, it weakens our symbolism
in the eyes of others, and dilutes our message.
I mean, sure, we could all wear matching headbands, or pins or something
like that to show our unity, but those are just objects, not a part of us.
Going barefoot shows that you have a real commitment to your principles.
It makes people take notice. They may think youre a little crazy, sometimes,
but they will respect you for it. Ive seen it over and over, Tracy concluded.
Angie mulled this over, letting the words sink in, though she still seemed torn.
You know, it just occurred to me, Tracy said. I think that deep down
you really do want to go barefoot. Thats why you came back to talk.
Is there something thats holding you back? Something in your own head?
Angie paused, and Tracy could tell she was onto something.
Its my parents. Growing up, youd think that none of us had bare feet.
Its like we just had different shoes that we screwed onto the stumps of our legs
every day. Does that make sense? Angie finally replied.
Tracy nodded, and smiled.
Oh, it makes perfect sense, Tracy confirmed. Believe it or not,
I grew up the same way. If you didnt have shoes on, youd better have slippers.
And, oh the horror if a foot without a sock was ever seen. Angie was stunned.
So, how did you deal with it? I mean, youre like the barefoot
poster girl now, Angie asked.
My freshman year, I went home at Thanksgiving, and I just
did it barefoot.
Being with the Beta Gammas gave me the confidence to stand up
to my mom, to show her who I was and how I was forging my own
path, Tracy said. She freaked, of course, but I stood my ground.
By the end of the weekend, I had convinced her. I even got her to take
a barefoot walk with me at the park.
My mother, who I didnt even realize had toes, was walking barefoot
through the park. In late November, no less!
Shes really okay with it? wondered Angie.
Absolutely. Shes not as hardcore as me, but shes definitely
an avid barefooter now. We spread it to my sisters, too.
My middle sister is a sophomore Beta Gamma at Apple Valley right
now, and my youngest sister is a high school senior, but shes already
planning to pledge Beta Gamma next year.
She tries to go barefoot in school now, but of course, there are teacher
and principal issues. Shes gotten pretty sneaky, though, Tracy laughed.
Thats awesome. I dont know if my parents would go
for it, though,Angie doubted.
Trust me, if my mom could change, yours can, too, Tracy reassured
her. Angie thought about it.
Tracy gave her a minute. She could tell Angie was on the cusp of breaking
through her reservations.
Tracy had a sudden inspiration.
Angie, have you ever had a good foot rub, you know, from
a boyfriend, or anyone? Tracy asked. Angie shook her head no.
Im not surprised. If you dont mind, Id like to show you how
wonderful the sensations in your feet can be, right here, where its safe.
Angie seemed a little unsure.
Okay, she said, finally. Tracy rolled her desk chair so
that she was facing Angie, close enough to touch.
She reached down and pulled Angies loafer enclosed right foot into
her lap. Angie trembled a bit.
Dont be nervous, Tracy said gently. I wont even take your
sock off. Tracy slipped the loafer off and dropped it on the floor.
Angie stared at her own socked foot with dread, but there was another
sense, anticipation, that was building, and overpowering the dread.
Tracy touched Angies foot, and it was like she had been struck by
lightning, but she didnt jump.
Tracy gently caressed her sole, kneading it with her fingers.
It was like heaven.
How had she not realized her feet could provide such a wonderful
sensation? Then, Tracy stopped. I can keep going, but I need to take
your sock off to do it right, she said.
Go ahead, Angie didnt hesitate. Tracy hooked her finger into
Angies sock, and slowly slid it off her foot.
Tracy was a bit surprised to see a fairly healthy, well formed bare foot,
with straight toes and nice arches. Angie wiggled her toes in the cool air.
Youve got some nice tootsies. I guess this is one time nature
beat nurture, Tracy laughed.
Angie blushed slightly. Tracy then began to rub Angies bare foot.
If the massage through the sock had been great, the gentle touch on
Angies naked sole was beyond wonderful.
Tracy lovingly worked over the ball, the heel, the arch, the crevice
under the toes.
If there were any spot on Angies foot that could feel good, Tracy found it.
Tracys grand finale was to corkscrew every toe, finishing with the little one.
Angie was almost in a trance-like state.
Mmm, that feeeels soooo gooood, she managed to mumble.
So, should I stop, or do you want me to do the other one?
Tracy asked, already knowing the answer.
Without a word, Angie kicked off her left shoe, and reached down to
quickly yank off her sock.
Then she put her left foot in Tracys lap. I guess that answers
that question, Tracy laughed.
She repeated her performance, using her hands like a concert pianist.
Once she had finished with the final toe corkscrew, Angie was in ecstasy.
Tracy let her bask in it. Finally, Angie seemed to come back to earth.
Im going outside, she said, matter-of-factly. Angie stood
up, savoring the soft carpet under her soles, the threads oozing between her toes.
Then she headed out the door, leaving her shoes and socks discarded
on the floor. Tracy quietly followed her out.
Tracy stepped onto the porch to see Angie soaking up
the sensations of the lawn.
Angie felt like she could feel each blade of grass gently brushing
against her sensitized and energized feet.
Then she remembered the wooded area behind the house.
She ran to it, not caring that it was the middle of the night.
She plunged into the tree line, feeling every distinct part of the
underbrush, the roots, twigs, leaves, the bare earth.
She could feel the energy welling up through her bared soles, as if
the living planet itself was welcoming her back to its embrace.
She felt alive, primal. Why had she let herself be closed off for her entire life?
She spent a long time soaking it all in.
When Angie came out of the woods, Tracy was waiting for her.
Angie gave the girl a big hug. Thank you. Its just its amazing.
I cant describe it, Angie told her.
You dont have to, Tracy replied. I know what youre talking about.
She playfully rubbed her foot across Angies. The two laughed, and hugged again.
Im going to get going, but Ill be back tomorrow to fill out the membership
application, Angie said.
Great. Ill have it ready for you, Tracy told her. Angie
started walking away. Hey, what about your shoes and socks? Tracy called.
Oh, you can throw them in the trash, where they belong,
Angie shot back. She intended never to wear shoes, or especially
socks, again. Wouldnt Michelle be surprised!
The End, and a New Beginning.