Shoe, Unshoe is the Ivy League version of Nancy Mitford's notorious U, non-U social scale rating system. No one really knows what is shoe or what isn't; the state of shoe or unshoe is felt rather than defined. Please don't be so unshoe as to ask. One just knows.
It is significant to note that what is shoe today can easily be most unshoe tonight. This, of course, precludes the possibility of an unshoe type becoming shoe simply by conforming to the mores and dictates of the known shoe of the campus. A risky business. Many an unshoe operator with dreams arrives on the Old Quad stocked up with a sharp supply of Tartan vests and MG'S, only to find that Playboy has led him astray and that Playboy itself is unshoe. Often it is too late in the season to pick up an old '38 Buick coupe (shoe) and a stock of frayed white shirts (also shoe) in. time to salvage a few shreds of self-respect. The only shoe thing to do in such a case is to resign and renew the application for admission to Trenton State Teachers.
This phenomenon plays hob with purveyors of various goods and services for the male. There is the depressing example of the knit-tie wholesaler who suddenly became shoe and within a fortnight had added 200 employees bought a 38-foot Richardson cruiser, divorced his wife, and was Interviewed by Mike Wallace. Suddenly and inexplicably, as Is always the case, knit ties became gauche and the bottom clattered into the abyss. He was stuck with 39.000 gross of olive drab knit and was forced to sell out his entire stock at three cents on the buck to Evinrude Johnson, who converted the tics to outboard-motor starters. This is only one case. The American business littoral Is strewn with the bleached bones of many such unfortunates. I might add that the term "shoe" does not mean precisely the same as "hip," "beat," or others of the same genre. Being hip or beat can quite possibly be briefly shoe and then become decidedly the opposite. Shoe always remains shoe.
Shoeism has touched some really odd areas. For example, Zen Buddhism had a short shoe period and so did Existentialism, but they rapidly became unshoe. Occasionally something can run the cycle and then make a comeback. Dave Brubeck was made when he became unshoe, but as soon as Time, Madison Avenue, and Columbia Records discovered him, he became as unshoe as Lawrence Welk. However, he has now shown signs of a comeback among the shoe.
Shoe literature is interesting. Scott Fitzgerald was shoe momentarily but is now completely unshoe. Salinger has been shoe but shows signs of slipping. Kerouac has never made It among the shoe. As one shoe man put it to me: "Illiteracy becomes even worse when written." Oddly enough, Conrad is completely shoe.
By the way, watching bad TV movies is right now shoe, but not for the reasons TV Guide would understand. Westerns and old horror movies are especially shoe. As for drinking, gin and beer are shoe, but Scotch is for fathers, so naturally it is unshoe. Bourbon is drunk by Midwesterners, and no comment is necessary. It is interesting that beer Is on the decline, while milk drinking is smashingly shoe. There is a whole social thesis in shoeism, but it is extremely unshoe to mention it.