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Guestwords: My Dear Feet

Wed, 10/05/2022 - 17:51

There it is, the photo of someone’s feet, taken by the person with the feet, stretched out on a chaise longue with water — ocean, pool, lake, whatever — in the background, posted on their social media page. I ask myself, why does this annoy me? Is it that the photo is a tired cliché with not an ounce of originality?

I know that I’m not envious of their being in a warm climate relaxing and enjoying themselves. Good for them, I say. I don’t envy anyone, well, maybe Terry Gross of “Fresh Air,” who asks intelligent questions to stimulating people on a broadcast that reaches five million appreciative listeners.

Would I have the same reaction if it were a photo of their hands looking over the water? Maybe. But I am certain it is the feet. But why, feet are fine. In fact, I love my feet. Oh, not that I would make a living as a foot model, but to me, they’re appealing enough. And they are trustworthy.

Do I have a hangup about feet? No. Seeing someone’s feet in sandals or barefoot is fine. In fact, feet can be downright sexy, especially if they are well groomed and shapely. Being attached to a muscular leg is also a plus.

Being barefoot at the beach, walking in the sand, is one of life’s pleasures, as is dipping my feet in a cool stream of flowing water on a hot day. As satisfying, whenever I stroll through fresh, fragrant grass squishing between my toes I am immediately transported to childhood, and the first warm day of the year when I was allowed to remove my shoes and run outside on our lawn. I felt free, hopeful, and delighted knowing that a full summer of outdoor play was ahead. And I can’t say enough about the blissful sensations I receive when an excellent masseur gives tender loving care to my feet.

I suspect that I haven’t given enough credit to my feet for what they’ve done for me. It’s not fair that they have not received their due. It’s time to correct that.

My Dear Feet,

Thank you. You’ve been with me every step of the way for my entire life. Hey, that’s kind of funny, don’t you think? Seriously, without you and your constant comrades, my legs, I wouldn’t have driven for six hours from Vermont last January, you guys giving me the ability to work the foot pedals in the car. And those ski boots. I’m sorry for what I put you through by forcing you into those. But, oh, the relief we felt when we slipped out of them. I liken that feeling to a small handful of bodily releases that give me immense pleasure. I’m sorry you can’t participate in those with me.

Allow me to apologize for the painful experiences we’ve shared together. I’m thinking of those long hours on my paddleboard when I forget to adjust your position and, inevitably, you let me know by producing sharp tingles. I’ll try to do better, but if you could give me a bit more warning before the hurt begins, I would appreciate it. You assuredly let me know that my jogging was abusing you by giving me that agonizing heel spur several years ago. Know that the cortisone shot hurt me as much as it hurt you. Which of you received that shot? I don’t remember.

Unlike your partners farther up my body that make sure I know who has more power, you don’t discriminate between left and right. All those sporting activities continue to enrich my life. But nothing compares to the simple act of walking. Yes, you two get the credit for it being a straightforward activity. As you well know, I enjoy flaneuring, whether it be in an urban setting or a country one. From my apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan to Greenwich Village or to the Lower East Side or wherever you, my head, and my heart take me grounds me and allows me to experience life with others up close, yet as private as I care to be.

It’s the same wherever we are. In Paris, in April, covering ground over several days, one that included my husband, John, and me excitedly setting out from our hotel in the Marais across from the Place des Vosges, stopping to admire the grandeur of Notre Dame and to witness its renovation progress, crossing the Seine to the Pantheon, enjoying the spirit of the students at the nearby Pantheon-Sorbonne University — perhaps I did experience a twinge of envy seeing these young energetic men and women in that environment knowing that their best years still lay ahead of them — then giving you a welcome break sitting at Luxembourg Gardens while basking in the sun.

Back across the always welcome Seine through unpretentious Place Dauphine, where many years ago when the three of us were young and carefree I had a two-day fling with a sexy Spaniard at his dank pension, with you guys and his guys keeping each other warm.

Moving on, with adorable John indulging me in this pastime despite his feet shouting at him to stop, you are rewarded with a much-needed rest at the hotel, but later, as usual, raring to go for a night on the town. Are city surfaces the hardest for you? I make every effort to encase you in comfortable shoes wherever we are. Walking on forest trails or more challenging up-and-down mountain paths puts a burden on you, and again, I recognize what you do for me.

I’ll close by saying I love you and I value you. Thank you for being my friends. But as proud of you as I am, don’t expect to see yourselves displayed on social media.


Fred Doss takes part in a memoir-writing class at the East Hampton Library. He lives in Springs.

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