The phrase “Waiting for the other shoe to drop” popped up in the mid 40s. Picture a man in an apartment building beneath a neighbor who worked late in to the night. Each night, while the man below was fast asleep, the neighbor above would arrive home, sit on the edge of his bed and take off his shoes. He’d get the first shoe off and with a loud bang, it would hit the floor, waking the man in the apartment below. The groggy neighbor below would then lay there waiting for the other shoe to hit the floor.
After the bang from his first shoe, the upper tenant would remember his neighbor and take the other shoe off quietly then get in to bed. But it was too late and the man downstairs would lay in waiting for the next bang. Eventually, the anxious downstairs tenant would yell out,”for crying out loud, drop the other shoe!”
So what does the phrase really mean? It’s about the fraught anticipation that rises from the knowledge that there is something more to come. The implication is that a second event is going to occur because the first event happened.
The dropping of the second shoe, the timing of the drop, the force of its fall, is beyond control. We stop ourselves from doing great things because we expect a certain outcome and lose sight of the possibilities. That other shoe may not ever drop.
Photo Credit Andrea Rinaldi