Friday, July 5, 2013

Oh, My Feet!

Take a moment now to show a little respect for your feet. They are, after all, rather important and serve us well. They require only occasional pampering and a tiny bit of admiration.

Summer being in full bloom, feet are even more important than ever. During warm weather, feet get overheated in confining or heavy shoes. Some of my friends would never wear anything on their feet but tennis shoes and white socks, even during summer. My feet don't enjoy sweating and have told me so on numerous occasions. "No socks!" they demand and I have to listen to their requests.

My feet are nice and have served me well through the years. They demand large-sized shoes and are a bit on the boney side. But the toes are straight and the nails are nice. However, our relationship hasn't always been so cozy.

When I was a kid, I couldn't stand wearing shoes. One of the first things I did every year was to discard my shoes and get into sandals. This was many years ago when people still had standards when it came to appearance. I wore little white sandals with white anklets. They were lightweight and looked cute. My toes could move about but remained somewhat protected by the shoes.

Even as recently as the1950s, there were plenty of kids on my block who avoided wearing shoes all summer. We viewed them as bumpkins or hooligans despite the fact that they were bright and mannerly most of the time. I suppose they didn't wear shoes because they were partially uncivilized. My parents never passed judgment on my friends -- at least within earshot -- but made it clear that shoes would be worn in our household, even if they were sandals.

By the 1960s, when most teen-agers wanted to be beach babes, we wore white canvas shoes and/or tennies, but with no socks. This was a cool look, at least until the shoes were washed for the first time. Then they lost their ultra white sparkle and looked a bit shabby. Come to think of it, that entire decade was one of white canvas shoes and/or tennies without socks. At least as we went to high school and on to college, that style of undistinguished footgear was comfortable.

By 1970s, I had graduated to low heels and "dress" shoes, leather contraptions that pinched and made my feet hot. Even though living and working in Phoenix, we had to wear hose. Try that at 110 degrees!

Speaking of discomfort, one of my favorite quotes is by T.E. Lawrence in the film Lawrence of Arabia. Lawrence extinguishes a lighted match by squeezing the flame with his fingers.

When another man tries it, he says, "Ooh. That hurts."

Lawrence smiles. "Certainly it hurts."

The other man asks, "What's the trick then?"

Lawrence replies, "The trick is not minding that it hurts."

We experienced significant discomfort wearing stockings in the desert. Despite perspiration running down our legs, we wore hose because it was the fashion. Casual days and hot summers allowed us to wear leather sandals but never to work. The so-called rubber/plastic "flip flops" weren't in vogue at the time, still relinquished to status as an unfashionable but waterproof option for situations like washing the car.

Through the years, the percentage of women wearing stockings has dropped markedly. Sandals are now often worn on bare legs even in elegant settings. Heels range from flats near the ground to stilettos for those who still like to torture themselves.

During the intervening period I have broken my fifth metatarsal bone while wearing cute, stylish sandals but stepping wrong and turning my foot. I have broken two toes on my right foot while falling down stairs on a terrazzo staircase. I have stepped onto a cholla cactus, filling the bottom of both feet with hundreds of tiny hair-like stickers, some of which I still can feel decades later. But each injury has brought a new respect for my little tootsies, which are rewarded by resting on a footstool and occasionally experiencing a full-blown pedicure.

I wasn't always close to my feet. Things were dropped on them and I stepped on plenty of splinters and pointed objects over the years. However, we have now settled into a rather tranquil relationship as we recognize that we will continue to depend on each other for some time to come.

Just remember to kick off your shoes and wiggle your toes freely whenever you can. They deserve it.

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