Sometimes the more you hear a word used, the more broad is the definition or the less clear is its meaning. So every so often I have to look up a word that is commonly used to get perspective.

The other day I looked up “prejudice” because people are always bandying about the word. I rediscovered that in the context of discrimination, it is a usually unfavorable preconceived opinion toward a person or group that is based on personal characteristics such as religion, race, nationality, sports team affiliation, or any number of factors. The feelings are not based on reason or actual experience but usually on the weird fears our brains conjure up in order to protect us from things we don’t understand.

Taking this definition to heart, I suddenly realized I have a deep and embarrassing shoe prejudice.

I tend to study the shoes people are wearing. This usually happens when I have little to do. Although the situation is rare, it does occasionally come up when, for example, waiting in an airport for security to release me or lying on the ground waiting for a tactical team to clear the area of any active shooters.

I definitely have a problem linking traits I don’t like in shoes to the people who wear them. There are casual dress shoes that men wear that have a seam around the top, front part of the shoe. I hate that seam. I prefer a shoe without a seam there, one where the leather, canvas, tin or whatever material they use to make the shoe top is molded down to the sole and stitched or glued there.

The part of the shoe that I’m talking about is the vamp. Now don’t make me get into shoe terminology. We all know that shoes have a heel and sole but, studying shoes, you will have to familiarize yourself with other parts like the quarter, counter, top line, upper, tongue and maybe even throat. Sometimes it’s hard to tell where anatomy starts and shoe parts stop. For those interested enough, you too can do a Google search and get lost for an hour or more in what obviously took a few hundred years to mature into the shoe design industry.

So back to this seam: all loafers and most moccasins have a seam in the vamp, as do boat shoes. That’s perfectly fine because it defines that kind of casual shoe and, really, you can’t have a pair of loafers without the seam around the upper vamp. I know, “upper vamp” sounds like a river in Siberia but I am referring here to the top part of the vamp where it bends to meet the sole.

But when some crafty shoe designer incorporates a seam into a perfectly nice pair of oxfords, it can be particularly hideous. Perfectly innocent, decent people who would never wear anything dreadful suddenly fall prey to a new style and my prejudiced mind starts associating them with slimy business deals, greed and, to a certain extent, protectionism for large insurance companies, especially when this seam appears on expensive dress shoes.

But this is really pure prejudice on my part. It turns out that there are many decent men who wear shoes where the vamp has been pieced with a decorative seam. But these are all stupid people. Oh, see? There it is again: my reaction based on pure irrational assumptions. Damn, it’s hard to avoid.

But while we are on the subject, I generally don’t care for brown shoes either. Who even understands brown shoes? Brown shoes probably don’t last as long as black shoes, which makes them shiftless and lazy, and even though I am not at all prejudiced against brown shoes, I don’t want them living next door to me as they are probably criminals or, worse yet, immigrants from Italy.

No, that’s wrong too. We really have to dredge deep within ourselves to find these prejudices and root them out. I’m really sorry. I didn’t mean Italian immigrants, I meant Mexican immigrants. So you can see I am not prejudiced at all, as I have nothing against Italian immigrants.

Now women’s shoes will have to be a topic for another time. It’s very complicated. There are women’s shoes I detest and yet, depending on how they are worn, they can be quite charming — unless the man who the woman is with is wearing shoes with a stupid seam in his vamp.