“Oh – look at your pretty toes!” she said. I smiled as I looked down at my Merlot-colored toenails. They hadn’t been out in public in quite some time. No, it wasn’t the beginning of summer. This was last week. Weather-wise, we are still in open-toed shoe season, but here at the Folk School I’ve taken classes that require me to do something I haven’t done since I was twelve: wear sneakers for a week straight.
I’m not the sneaker-wearing type. There was a two year period in college when I didn’t even own sneakers. In general, I’m not a casual dresser either. Yes, I wear jeans. But usually with a cute top, earrings, and nice shoes – heeled boots in winter, platform sandals in summer. I don’t have a floor-to-ceiling closet full of shoes like my youngest sister Meg, but I’ve got my fair share. Unfortunately, most of them haven’t been worn for quite some time.
Why? Because I’ve chosen classes over the last few weeks that have an unwritten dress code. In woodturning, there are plenty of sharp objects that can go flying – or falling. So close-toed shoes are a must. So are high-collared shirts for women. No one mentioned this to me, but I was smart enough not to wear my usual V-necks to class. What I thought was a high neck-line didn’t cut it, though. Thankfully, the resident woodturner is a woman (Marsha Barnes). She understood and had a T-shirt on hand that I adopted as my smock for the week. Prior to that, I had woodchips in places that I don’t care to get into here.
Also no-no’s in woodturning: hair worn down or in a pony tail. Getting your hair caught in a lathe spinning at 1200 RPM’s – not good. Getting anything caught in a lathe spinning that fast wouldn’t be good – so jewelry is also out of the question.
After my adventures in woodturning, I took a cooking class. You would think you could wear whatever you want while cooking, but not in a place that has liability to worry about. Knives can fall and slice toes, so once again my open-toed shoes were relegated to the back of my closet.
Last week, I was building a garden shed. Well, trying to learn at least. You don’t see open-toed shoes on a construction site.
Thankfully, there is at least one night per week that open-toed shoes, earrings, and even dresses are seen on campus. Every Tuesday night, there is a Contra and Square Dance in the Community Room. Locals join students for this weekly event that even has live music. No experience necessary, and no partner is needed. In fact, this is the only place I’ve been where I’ve actually witnessed a shortage of women at a dance.
So on Tuesday nights, the dresses I used to wear so often in my previous life finally get to see the light of day. I reach into the depths of my closet, pull out my open-toed shoes, slip my feet in and smile at my painted toe nails.
Rebecca Gallo is a host at the John C. Campbell Folk School. This entry originally posted at http://renaissancerebecca.wordpress.com