Something awful has happened to my foot. My big toe feels like it may detach itself from the rest of my foot at any moment. It’s gotten bad enough to give me a slight limp that I playfully try to pass of as “swagger.” Which is a polite way of saying “pimp walk.” I’m sure it fools no one. Remembering that I have health insurance, a true luxury for those in my income bracket, I made a call to a local pediatrist.
I have a friend who goes through great lengths to seek out the best doctors. I, however, will pick whoever’s closest. Which is probably why I ended up in a sun-bleached strip mall decorated with cracked walls, barred windows, and sloppy graffiti. If you’re going to tag a wall with your “art” at least make it legible and clear. Anyway, I spent close to an hour and a half in the waiting area/daycare center. I truly hate summer. First there’s the heat and then there’s all the noisy children and dead-eyed parents. An hour amongst children (that you don’t know) is possibly the longest hour of your life. I just sat patiently waiting, hoping none of brats ran over my achy toe.
I had about reached my limit when I was called into one of the exam rooms. It was a small pink box of a room that had a large chair in the center. While waiting for the doctor, a small child would float in and out of the room wondering what exactly was going on. I wondered where this child’s mother was and why the exam room door was still open. Where was my privacy as a patient?
The doctor finally came in with a booming voice and an accusatory tone. I’m not gonna say that he sounded like he was doing a cliche (yet good) impression of a bossy Jewish, New York “mamaleh” because that could possibly be seen as anti-Semitic. So I’ll just say that I got the impression he enjoyed lox with his bagels. Our exchange started as such…
Me: “My toes hurts.”
Me: “I was hoping you could tell me.”
Him: “When does it hurt?”
Me: “uh…When I walk.”
Him: “Yeah? Walk for me.”
Him: “Wadda ya mean ‘where’?! On the floor.”
Me: “Yes, but in a particular direction? Is there, like, a designated walking area?”
Him: “A what? Just walk across the waiting room.”
Me: (walks across the waiting area, with no shoes or socks, in front of maybe 4 adults and at least 15 children. And then back again)
Him: “Yeah…Don’t walk like that.”
This is when I had to break our interaction down to the most basic of concepts. It was a little like talking to a robot, or an alien, or a really slow pediatrist. “I walk like this because this is how I walk.” There was no other way to explain to him that my body has determined that whatever apparent walk I do is what feels most natural and comfortable. I wondered if he also going to ask me if my rib cage always does that in-and-out movement when I breath or if my fingers have always had nails. Instead he asked, “what make’s your foot feel better?” I answered, “sometimes walking on my tip-toes feel pretty good.” Which it does but also because I not-so-secretly wish I was taller and more elegant; and really, because there’s no better way to show off them calves. Am I right, ladies?
My response was met with a yell, “WHY DIDN’T YOU SAY THAT?!” Because at no point did our conversation allow for me to mention it, that’s why. He continued, “you’re a toe-walker. Walking on your toes means you have a short Achilles’ tendon. It’s most common in children who are still developing, but adults can have it to. Don’t feel bad.” I didn’t feel bad. Not until he said I shouldn’t. “What does this mean exactly?” I asked with newly developed shame. “Well, let’s see…You’re 32, right? When you turn 40 and go through you’re midlife crises and take up cycling or running, your tendons are just gonna snap.” There were no ‘if’s in his statement, only ‘when’s. That’s quite the future he’d planned out for me.
Then he came back with his official medical advice, “what you need are shoes with a good sturdy, high heel. Perhaps a boot.” The words “a good sturdy, high heel” echoed in my head. My world became illuminated and it took everything in me to not smile at the news. I couldn’t believe my luck. There was no more guessing and it was no longer a theory: I really was “born this way.” I am naturally predisposed to be fabulous in high heels. I’ll forever go into shoes stores demanding “higher heels, damn it!” and then show them a note from my doctor. I wonder if that’s how Prince shoe shops. It is my lot in life to show off these gorgeous gams in high heels. I don’t care if he maybe meant a cowboy boot or a work boot. The world will see my grace and beauty as I tower in “a good sturdy, high heel.” I’ve never felt more like a chic homosexual destined to inspire the masses with a power strut that will scorch the very earth than when I got that diagnoses. Someone get me to a catwalk!
Then in a strange turn of events, in my daydream of picturing myself reenacting the late great Divine yelling on a Christmas morning “THESE AREN’T CHA-CHA HEELS!,” the pediatrist slipped his hand up my pant leg up. It was soft stroke that started at my ankle and up to my shin. It flung me back into reality and I looked him square in the eye with complete contempt. He met my glare with a wink. I should have been mad or, at the very least, creeped out, but how could I blame him? He’s only a man and these are only the most beautiful legs fit for “a good sturdy, high heel.”