1. Wow, Melanie and James live in a nice building.
  2. I knew James was doing well, but I didn't know he was doing "I want people to know I'm doing well" well.
  3. Apartment 4F. This is them.
  4. Knock or ring? Knock or ring? Knock or ring?
  5. Knock.
  6. This is a nice hallway. You know a building is nice when they have vases in the hallway and trust people not to steal them.
  7. I don't think they heard the knock.
  8. This is why you always ring, Sam.
  9. A knock could be anything. It could be construction outside. It could be a cabinet closing. It could be hammers. It could be a weirdly timed dance.
  10. A ring is either a ring or the oven is done pre-heating.
  11. Just ring the damn doorbell, Sam.
  12. "James! How are you? Oh, Melanie! Hey! Beautiful place. Oh, I'm the first to arrive? I brought some semi-fancy beer if that's ok. I figured Mel probably had the wine part covered hahaha.... what's that?"
  13. They want me to take off my shoes.
  14. "My shoes? Yeah. No problem."
  15. OH NO. OH NO. OH NO.
  17. Relax, think. You came directly from work at the restaurant, so what did you put on this morning?
  18. They can't have been good socks, Sam. You remember when you put on good socks.
  19. No chance they match.
  20. And they are likely sort of dirty. Laundry is at an all-time low.
  21. Ok, think, think. I took a shower. I looked in my sock drawer. It was empty except for novelty holiday socks. I looked on the floor. I found one white adidas sock that was completely clean.
  22. What did I do for my second sock?
  23. I don't remember.
  25. I didn't think today was a "worry about my socks" day. It's not like I was going on a date or bowling or anything.
  26. Melanie went to the kitchen but James is just staring at me.
  27. "I need to send a quick work text."
  28. Work text? You work at a restaurant.
  29. He bought it. He went to help Mel in the kitchen.
  30. You're good. Check your socks. Check your socks quickly.
  31. Ok, that's the good sock. The white crew adidas.
  32. Check the other one.
  33. It's a Reebok ankle sock.
  34. And it has seen better days.
  35. This is the hole one, remember. Why do I keep the hole sock around?
  36. Plus it's kind of gray. Not because it's dirty now, but because it's been dirty before.
  37. Goddamn it.
  38. How does anyone keep a sock white? Socks get dirty.
  39. Bleach, Sam, bleach. Most adults use bleach. They can afford a white load and a color load.
  40. One day.
  41. This is why I should always wear black socks. You can't tell how dirty they are.
  42. I don't know where I got it in my head that black socks are only for weddings and funerals.
  43. "Hey guys, how many people are coming over for dinner?"
  44. Only like twelve they said.
  45. That's so many.
  46. What do I do? What do I do? I'm wearing one clearly dirty sock.
  47. I guess I just laugh and explain that it's laundry day.
  48. Don't lie. It's not laundry day. It will take at least one more incident like this before I do laundry.
  49. Why is it acceptable for people to have guests take off their shoes?
  50. Like, "hey come visit me, but first things first I don't trust your cleanliness."
  51. Yeah, who do James and Melanie think they are?
  52. You have to have such a high opinion of your floors if you make guests take off their socks.
  53. Floors are meant for shoes. Floors are purposefully at the bottom of everything so shoes can walk on them.
  54. Are your floors not for walking, James and Melanie? Do you use your floors for something else? If so, I'll gladly not put shoes on your floors.
  55. Your floors are going to be fine. There are so many industries solely dedicated to cleaning floors from shoes.
  56. The only houses that should have policies you need to know the second you walk in are jails and rehab facilities.
  57. James is yelling from the kitchen.
  58. "What's that, James? Yeah, the restaurant is alright. Turns out I'm not the best waiter in the world."
  59. James, I saw you do horrible things in college, and now you're a "take off your shoes" guy?
  60. You once woke up in a bathtub filled with Jell-O, and then ate a spoonful as a dare.
  61. But God forbid I walk across your threshold wearing Chuck Taylors.
  62. Did someone knock? I think someone knocked.
  63. It was probably someone down the hall.
  64. Maybe I go sockless all together. Is that better? To go barefoot and say I wasn't wearing socks? That's weirder, right?
  65. Oh, someone just rang the doorbell. They definitely knocked earlier.
  66. "Hello, I'm Sam, James' college buddy. Vanessa and Pete, is it? James and Melanie are in the kitchen. I'm responding to a work text."
  68. God, their socks are immaculate.
  69. I'm going to call bullshit on those socks. Those are ringer socks. They just opened a fresh bag and put those on immediately before entering. Those are brand-new levels of white.
  70. Now we are going to spend the entire evening with strangers in socks, just causally talking and getting to know each other?
  71. We aren't little kids in a moon bounce.
  72. We're adults. Wearing socks with no shoes around each other is weird.
  73. It's too intimate.
  74. Shoes help me feel grounded. Plus, I can make a quick getaway.
  75. Someone else is here.
  76. "Hello. I'm Sam. No, I'm not the greeter. I'm just standing here because I'm sending a work text. Nice to meet you, Sarah."
  77. Sarah took off her shoes like she was at the airport. How was she so ready for that?
  78. I'm going to have to ask James to borrow a pair of his socks.
  79. Sam the burnout waiter friend is going to look like a moron yet again.
  80. I brought IPAs tonight, damn it. I was going to be fancy.
  81. I really should wear matching socks every day.
  82. No. no. I refuse to feel bad about this. I wear matching socks when it counts. Tonight it shouldn't have mattered.
  83. I'm a dinner party. It's weirder that I have to take off my shoes than it is that I'm wearing unmatching socks. I don't care what has somehow become socially acceptable.
  84. James just approached me. He says I'm being weird.
  85. "I'm keeping my shoes on."
  86. He said they have a policy.
  87. "Yes, I know, and I am prepared for whatever consequences breaking the policy has in your little apartment kingdom, but I'm keeping my shoes on."
  88. James is telling me to just take off my shoes. They have friends over.
  89. "I can't. My socks are dirty and also I like wearing shoes. I stomped them on the mat. I'm clean. Let me in."
  90. It's a rule though, he says.
  91. "Then give me back my IPAs because I no longer will tolerate some houses deciding they are good enough to forgo shoes."
  92. Mel walked down the hallway. James is explaining my refusal.
  93. I'm going to miss Mel and James. They were really great friends.
  94. Mel said she doesn't care. She only had the rule because James took off his shoes once, so she thought she should do it too.
  95. I think.. I think I can cross into the kitchen, fully shoed.
  96. This feels amazing. I don't care if Pete, Vanessa, and Sarah are staring at my shoes.
  97. "The shoe policy has changed."
  98. All three of them rushed to the front door to put their shoes back on.
  99. I changed things.