Life Advice



Annie's Mailbox: Clean Shoes in Wisconsin

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar on

Dear Annie: One of my wife's siblings insists that everyone remove their shoes upon entering her home. This makes me feel like I am welcome only so long as I don't get their precious house dirty.

My wife and I were recently invited to her sister's house for a family party. When I didn't take off my perfectly clean shoes, she looked me in the eye and told me to remove my shoes or not to bother coming in. She said, "We are zero tolerance on that." I turned and left without saying a word.

Last week, we went to another party at a different sister's home. She met us at the door with a big smile. "Keep your shoes on if you want, but wipe your feet if they are dirty." We had a good time. I felt welcomed.

I often take my shoes off at people's houses. We live in a snowy climate and I don't want to track snow or dirt into their homes. But shouldn't it be my decision to remove my shoes? When people put conditions on coming in, doesn't that give me a choice to accept the conditions or not?

My side of the family would never do this. We have been married for 40 years and I love my wife's family, but this drives me crazy. Please advise on proper etiquette. -- Clean Shoes in Wisconsin

Dear Wisconsin: We think that when you are a guest in someone's home, you should make an effort to follow their rules. It isn't intended to make you feel unwelcome. No matter how clean your shoes may seem, they are still tracking in detritus from the outdoors. However, we also believe that hosts who ask you to remove your shoes have an obligation to provide slippers of some kind so you aren't walking around barefoot or with holes in your socks. Perhaps you could work something out with your sister-in-law so that neither of you feels that the other is being rude.


Dear Annie: My husband and I are in our early 30s and come from middle-class families. We both work extremely hard. We are getting ready to build our second home and are going to complete the transaction in cash.

When people ask what kind of mortgage rate we have or which bank we are using, what's the best way to respond? We don't want others to be jealous or think twice about hiring our business for fear that we may charge too much. -- Hardworking in the Midwest

Dear Midwest: You do not need to give out this information. If someone actually has the gall to ask, you have a few options: You can tell them a version of the truth: "We've been saving for a long time so we can pay in cash. It's taken forever." Or misdirect: "Why do you want to know? Are you looking to buy a house? Where? Tell me all about it!" Or more evasively: "We're working on that. Do you have some suggestions?" By turning the question around, they will feel important and wise, and will stop focusing on things that are none of their business.


"Annie's Mailbox" is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar. This column was originally published in 2016. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at




Dana Summers Signe Wilkinson BC Dogs of C-Kennel Hagar the Horrible Pickles