This idiom, waiting for the other shoe to drop, means that you will defer action or decision until another matter is finished or resolved. You will await a seemingly inevitable event, especially one that is not desirable. When good things happen to you, should you relax and enjoy it, or do you find yourself wondering how long it will last, whether something bad is lurking around the next corner that will ruin your happiness? For instance, if you finally meet your dream person and you think it could work out fine for both of you, is there something in the back of your mind telling you that the other shoe will soon drop?
This phrase “wait for the other shoe to drop” originated in New York City in the late 19th and early 20th century when buildings started to rise up and noisy neighbors occupied many apartments. Living in a tenement or other similar style housing you would hear the footsteps of the people living above you and many other normal every day sounds. You would know when your upstairs neighbor undressed for bed, you would hear or might be awakened by a thump when he dropped one of his shoes on the floor. As your upstairs neighbor managed to get his other shoe off in silence, and they got into bed, you would lie there wondering, ‘When are you going to drop the other shoe?’
If you hear one shoe drop then the next obvious thing would be to hear the other shoe drop. In NYC most apartments were built similar in design on every floor, where one persons bedroom was right under another’s. If your upstairs neighbor came in late at night there was a chance that you could hear their door close, so you would know that they came home and you might hear their bed creak when they sat down on it. You would certainly know when he takes off one shoe and drops it on the floor. Maybe he hears the thump of his shoe and he starts feeling guiltily realizing that everyone else around him is trying to sleep, so he takes the other shoe off much more carefully and quietly puts in on the floor. Just as he is drifting off to sleep, a shout comes from the man in the room below, “Well, why are you taking so long, drop the other shoe, then I can go back to sleep, as I can’t lie here all night long waiting for you to drop the other shoe!”
Written for Linda G. Hill Life in progress One-Liner Wednesday – April 11 prompt.