the other shoe

Mark_Mandel at DRAGONSYS.COM Mark_Mandel at DRAGONSYS.COM
Fri May 7 12:53:37 UTC 1999

Fred Shapiro <fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU> writes:

My own research turns up "other shoe may never drop" in Mathematics of
Computation 20: 174 (1966).  Still earlier, there was an article in the
April 1963 issue of National Civic Review (p. 189) entitled "Awaiting the
Other Shoe."

As for the phrase's derivation, I believe it comes from a folk-story in
which someone can't fall asleep because he or she heard the noise of one
shoe dropping to the floor beside the bed one floor above them, but never
heard the other shoe dropping.

That's the story I remember, too. And I also remember a Charles Addams cartoon
in the New Yorker in which the couple* are preparing for bed, and the man,
looking anxiously toward the ceiling, says: "That's two. Now I'll never get to
sleep till he drops the other one." I'm sure it's in either the New Yorker album
or the Addams album that I have at home; it may be dated there, and quite
possibly before '63.

*The happily ghoulish married couple whose family figured in so many of his
drawings and in the Addams Family TV series and movies. -- Ghod, I miss him.

-- Mark

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