From Ask Lutz


Dear Lisa,

Sometimes the tongue of my left shoe slips down to the side. This is annoying because it's uncomfortable and it exposes sock behind the laces. This never happens with my right shoe's tongue. Why?




Dear Tongue-Tired,

Thank you for your fine, thoughtful question. The shoe string (or lace, as we call it today) was invented in England in 1790. Until then shoes were fastened with buckles. The lace, however, could provide a more custom fit and eventually became the securing device of choice for footwear. But when you have shoe laces, invariably you have shoe tongues and that, dear reader, is your problem. And as far as I can tell it is your problem alone. Lucky for you, here at Ask Lutz, we believe that no problem is too big or too small. Actually, there may be problems too big for Ask Lutz, but not too small. What I’m saying is that I’m here to help.

As I see it, the issue at hand is essentially shoe tongue waywardness. Immediately after I received your letter, I called a number of shoe stores, cobblers, and friends whom I know to wears shoes on occasion. I asked each person I spoke to if he or she ever encountered shoe tongue slippage. I received a number of responses:

-No, but I get blisters.
-Why are you asking?
-My sock bunches up.
-Why are you calling this late?
-Oh, I just got new shoes.

Let me take a minute to speak my mind. When someone asks you a question, the polite thing to do is answer the question. You don’t respond to the question with a question or answer a question that was not asked or offer information that was not elicited. It’s really quite simple. Question, then answer.

So, Tongue-Tired, as you may have gathered, my sources were useless. Instead, I relied on my own skills of deduction and observation. Your tongue slippage might be due to the fact that you walk funny. Since I don’t know you, I can’t make that determination myself. I can only suggest that you check your stride and see if something is amiss. You might consider studying the way normal people walk and then try to walk like them.

While your primary issue with tongue slippage is the discomfort, your secondary concern is that it “exposes sock.” This concern is intriguing and we must explore its origin. Ask yourself “What am I feeling when I see that exposed sock?” Is it fear? Disgust? Shock? Love? Awe? Embarrassment? If it’s embarrassment, you might simply want to stop wearing white socks with dress shoes. The shock of the bleached 100% cotton sweat sock against the brown or black leather (or naugahyde) can and should be unsettling. If you are wearing the appropriate sock, then I think this issue is far too complicated to resolve in one session. You’ll simply have to write back and we’ll explore the sock exposure in more depth.

But I think we’ve made some progress, Tongue-Tired, and I do hope I have been some comfort to you in this matter. Let me finish by saying, there is no shame in wearing a loafer.

Best Wishes,


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