Talk to the Feet

The world screams story.

Today, I have too many ideas of things and too many impressions of life. It is too large, too vivid and I’m too happy–too inclined to stroke life’s comedy. That’s the way it is on the days when the world screams story in endless yells, catcalls, coos, and burps, wooing from every vocal orifice.

My head in a whirlwind of ideas (most of them unrelated to my novel) sent me for a Starbucks, was sidetracked by jet lag, and dropped me at the local sweatshop aka the nail salon.

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I was lured by the promise of soapy water, community, and wonder as I passed by the salon window, the deal sealed by a bevy of seventy-year-olds ensconced in the luxury of ebony and carmine leatherette chairs, they of the seventh level of heaven. They reminded me of mom, stain removal tips, casseroles, and I moved in closer to watch them with the other motherless things.

I had no appointment. My smile was too big a smile. By quiet selection process, a woman was chosen from the ranks. She was diminutive in her rosie pink Minnie Mouse top, eyes big and brown as conkers. She indicated by guttural tones and pointy gestures that I, too, should sit in a luxury chair and plunge my feet in the bubbly waters of a textured and iridescent footpath shaped like Venus’s clamshell. I would no doubt arise with softer skin and ready cuticles.

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She channeled Edward Scissorhands on my humble but well-kept feet as she chattered to them in Vietnamese, exhorting and imploring by enthusiasms and chitterings as she scrubbed hard with an electric blue faux pumice and I tried not to laugh. It was all so Dickensian and made me think of boot blacking.

At first, I thought she was engaged in a snarky running commentary with her friends of the other basins, but when they disappeared one-by-one, she kept talking and I realized she was nuts, probably, certifiable, a genuine foot talker. Like the crazy person you see on the train, she’s the one who talks to herself/himself while everyone pretends not to notice. The bevy noticed though, casting warning glances as she approached me with cutting implements, but I held strong.

I watched with bemused interest. I love watching people so deep in eccentricity they don’t realize how odd they are as I tried to pin down her exact diagnosis: Delusional, no doubt, with a touch of foot fetishism? Hard to say exactly without a DSM-5 (the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) handy.  I have no idea what she and my toes might have been discussing. My sister Boo says she was probably doing some type of energy work, but I’m not sure. My feet felt the same as always, and in between gruff instructions to lift up or put down each extremity, the conspiracy of my feet and her interest,  it crossed my mind that my feet, barred the ability to give consent, were willing sacrificed by me to this odd human interaction. Was it right to pander them after so many years of faithful service?

Sure.

For when the world screams story from every vocal orifice, we build an altar, we make sacrifice, we hasten to catch the quary before it slips away.

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