By J. D. Pendry
To begin with, I have a crooked ankle. Permanently out of alignment according to the Surgeon. Younger than my son and had styling gel in his hair. Someday, he added, you may need another surgery fusing the joint to eliminate chronic arthritic pain. He was just a ball of joy that day, pointing out that I should be able to get around just fine on my rebuilt foot. The one with a metal plate and a bucket of screws holding it together. I left hoping corrosion or rust were not issues for future concern.
Because of my crooked ankle my foot strikes exactly backwards from what it should leading to callous buildup on my instep, the ball of my foot, my big toe, and in the area where there was once a normal arch. There’s constant stress on my lower leg and abnormal pressure to the inside of my knee. Yep, I’m practically up to my butt in chronic pain. But, it’s only on one side. In case you’re wondering, no pain medication other than the old Soldier food group ibuprofen. Our mantra, with SOS and ibuprofen we can complete any mission. Additionally, I just pound on the other leg until it aches equally. Uniformity. They taught me that in the Army.
One night right before Christmas, some years ago, a man driving a pickup truck in the opposite direction from mine decided we should meet in the middle of an icy bridge. Head on. The foot in question was on the brake pedal. Fruitlessly, I might add. A white knuckled grip on the steering wheel and the force of the crash also broke my left arm. But it healed fine and practically straight.
That explains to the other customers at the Nail and Spa, mostly women, why an old guy at whom they often shoot a curious glance and occasionally a little grin gets a monthly spa pedicure. They shouldn’t look too closely at me as I notice some of them have rather large feet. Not the slender dainty feminine feet my mind’s eye expects. With feet so large, I would be hesitant about drawing attention to them by making my toenails sparkle right there below multiple ankle bracelets and the butterfly tattoo. While they get paint and glitter the woman taking care of my feet, much like a farrier preparing to shoe a horse, brings out the rasp and grates away the dead skin – appears a couple of pounds of it each time especially the bad one. Old Drill Sergeant feet Jimbo. Remember those? She massages the soreness out of my bad foot and leg and I light foot it right out of there totally secure in my masculinity with an appointment scheduled for next month. All thanks to Suzie-Q who drug me there under protest the first time.
On our last visit, Suzie-Q and I were sitting in our high-tech spa chairs, me with the back massage working, feet soaking when several women came in. Then a guy walked in. As the lady who runs the place was directing everyone to chairs, etc., with a puffed-out chest the guy demanded in what I thought was an overly exaggerated deep voice that she takes all of the women first. She ignored him and told him where to sit. Without objection, he promptly complied. As the woman worked on his feet, he spent the entire time talking to the young man working on the lady’s next to him – about football. I sensed a little insecurity. But I could be wrong. He paid with a gift card and was reminded to come back monthly.
My favorite shoes are the ones with no backend. You just slide your feet in and move out. The heel of my bad foot is wider than normal. I assume to accommodate the surgical hardware. So, the shoes are a logical solution. I remember a time in my life when I’d see a man wearing such shoes and roll my eyes just a bit. At the time, the sight wasn’t in tune with my masculine psyche. I’ve matured some and hopefully become slightly wiser. Nowadays men are wearing orange Crocs, skinny jeans and man buns and not just at Walmart. But I make no judgments. Cold be a good reason for all of that, or not.
In one of his short stories, The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether, published in 1845, Edgar Allan Poe wrote:
“You are young yet, my friend,” replied my host, “but the time will arrive when you will learn to judge for yourself of what is going on in the world, without trusting the gossip of others. Believe nothing you hear, and only one half that you see.”
That’s a rule us mortals all too often break. What we read, hear, and see is not always as it appears. And as my Dad, rest his soul, used to remind, make sure your brain is in gear before you put your mouth into operation.
Yep, spa pedicures for grumpy old men. Monthly, I highly recommend it. Especially if your physique, which tends to have a mind of its own as we age, is a hindrance to reaching your toes. Life is good.
© 2019 J. D. Pendry, J. D. Pendry’s American Journal, All Rights Reserved Email: firstname.lastname@example.org