Drawing of rock covered with petroglyphs
Oh those cute little pinkies of yesteryear. If nothing else stood out, I was sure my feet were very attractive. They have a high arch which forms a graceful curve-not the flat Elmer Duck kind. The toes were nicely spaced with no corns or deformities.
In high school I had a boyfriend that I thought was perfectly put together ‘till one day we went swimming. And there on each foot his little toe resided on top of the fourth toe. A substantial turn off for a 16 year old.
The only drawback to having a high arch was the difficulty of shoving my feet into cowboy boots and of course the white Go Go boots of the ’60’s. I once saw a photo of Marlene Dietrich even wearing a pair. That’s how ‘in’ Go Go boots were.
Shoe salesmen use to say back in the 50’s-a time when somebody actually helped you-, “Some day that arch is going to give you problems.” Then with each pair of shoes I tried on, he would walk me over to this chest high machine, have me stick my feet into a slot and an x-ray of each foot would appear on a screen. I’d look down into the viewer and there they were, my pinkies with the edge of the shoes outlining them. I could watch the bones move around as I flexed and wiggled my toes. This was ‘state of the art’ technology to show if your shoes were going to fit properly.
I’m thinking that the radiation may have caused the future downfall of my feet, not so much the arch.
I continued to feel I had great sexy feet right up until my first foot surgery. I showed them off by painting my toenails different colors of red, Candy apple and Iridescent orange, the color of merthiolate. (Blue, green and black weren’t available back then.) I flaunted them by wearing flip-flops all summer long whether hiking, camping and going to parties.
After turning 60 though, I began noticing the second and third toes on my right foot were separating, making the V sign. What was causing this? Surely it wasn’t from years of wearing flip-flops. Besides, the first and second toes straddle the thong-not the second and third.
Every so often a sharp stabbing pain would stop me dead in my tracks, usually when I was hiking on a rocky trail but even shopping in a grocery store. As the pain started occurring more often, I became obsessed with where I was placing my foot, hoping to avoid that painful jolt.
Eventually it became time to visit the pediatrist. After a couple of x-rays and his thumbs pushing against the ball of my foot, I was told I had a neuroma. A neuroma? What’s a neuroma?
Well, the bones had been irritating the nerve between my toes-which caused the nerve to develop a protective callus to surround it-which made the nerve fatter-which caused the bones to get squeezed together more when wearing shoes, which irritated the nerve even more-so then more callus formed, and eventually the bulky nerve created a sharp pain when the foot was in an awkward angle. Looking back it couldn’t have been the white bucks we wore- the shoes Mother approved of. But maybe it was the Capezios, those black and red flats I squeezed my feet into during my four years of high school.
So after a few shots of cortisone that only worked for a short time, I went under the knife. Some tissue was cut out and thrown away and a padded insert was to be placed inside my shoes.
I no longer got that shooting pain but a new defect was emerging, once more spoiling the appearance of my fabulous feet: the third toe started crawling over the fourth toe. I have to say it looked pretty weird. I tried taping the second and third toe together so they would lie flat on the same plane. I knew no one would notice because I was using this clear tape, brand new in the band aid section-a real improvement over that old sticky white adhesive kind.
Shortly after coming up with this invisible solution, I was meeting a friend for coffee, sporting my new Reef flip flops straight from Santa Cruz. Before she even said hello, she peered down at my feet and asked, “How come your toes are taped together?”
I just had to accept that taping looked weird, too.