My feet are filthy. That’s not something I’m proud of, but it’s happened because this summer I’ve spent more time without wearing shoes than at any time in my life since I was a kid, and while I haven’t really been slacking in personal hygiene my usual morning ablutions just aren’t enough to ablate the accumulated ungular grime. In truth I did notice how sullied my hooves have become before my wife threatened to ban me from the bedroom, or at least the bed, but I really didn’t think it was that big a deal until my wife threatened to ban me from the bedroom, or at least the bed. What’s weird is my right foot is dirtier than my left foot, so maybe we could reach a compromise with me keeping my right foot on the floor and my left foot in the bed, and it would be easy since I sleep on the left side of the bed anyway. I’d just have to sleep on my back, although I tend to snore when I do that which can also get me banned from the bedroom, and anyway it’s hard to sleep or do anything else in bed with one foot on the floor, as anyone in a Hollywood Hays Code film can tell you, but that’s another story. Anyway all this may or may not confirm what I’ve believed my whole life: my left foot is my favorite foot. If I’m asked to put my best foot forward it’s always my left foot, even if I can’t dance to it.
Anyway this has provoked flashbacks to the summer between second and third grade when my right foot betrayed me. It might argue that I betrayed it, but that’s such a right foot thing to say. It was like most summers in that as soon as school let out the first thing I did was take my shoes and socks off and go running outside, never to return to the campus, at least until fall, or so I thought until I came home from the bus stop and my mother had to drive me back to school to pick up my shoes and socks that I’d left by the classroom door.
After that summer really started. I’d get up and go from when I woke up in the morning until I came in for the last time at night without putting my feet in any canvas confinement. I didn’t think about the hard concrete steps of our porch until the night I stubbed my right big toe on one.
The nighttime stars weren’t the only ones I saw.
My toe swelled up like a giant purple slug, pulsing with pain, and the nail, pushed back from whence it had grown, turned crimson. I iced it and kept off of it and let it sleep in the bed rather than the floor and it mostly recovered, but that was my introduction to what’s known as an ingrown toenail. And an infected one at that. On the doctor’s orders I spent about a week with my foot in a tub of warm salt water and eventually, with some judicious trimming and a high protein diet, my nail grew back out and I could walk free again.
And that was the end of it. All was forgiven. Hey, accidents happen, especially to feet, and even if I play favorites with my feet I couldn’t get upright without both of them. I ran free once again.
Then about a month later, just as summer was coming to an end and I was coming home I stubbed my toe again.