Judging from her feet, she was no princess. Size 9, with toes that were long, one shaped like a tennis racket, bunions, bones adrift. They hurt, in all shoes except sneakers. She walked fast and hard, up and down the streets of Manhattan. She could clip 20 blocks in 15 minutes, easily. Thinking, thinking, thinking. People remarked on her gait, often, friends who saw her barreling around, from a distance. “Like a boxer,” said one. “Like a bloody gorilla,” said a British boyfriend, years ago. A kind of lunging. Her shoes always got the same quarter-sized hole drilled straight through the middle of the sole, first left, then right. Her mother, sister, father, all had the same big bony troubled feet.
She was in the examining room, with her shoes and socks off. She closed her eyes to escape the florescent light.
Dr. Delmonte came in. “How’ve you been?” he asked brightly, seating himself on a stool at her feet. “How’s the writing going?”
She told him how she’d been. He was handsome and friendly, always had been. Podiatrists are usually very straightforward, and ranked among her all time favorite category of MD.
He took her foot—the foot in question—in his hand, and studied the troubled spot between the toenail and the toe. He explained exactly what the problem was. “There is a radical thing we can do or a less radical thing we can do,” he said. The radical thing, which involved some cutting, would definitely take care of it whereas the milder option might not.
He was holding her foot as they discussed this.
The world had felt so unusually brutal to her, of late. She liked being in here, with him. He treated her kindly. He explained all about her feet, why the bones were going this way and that, see that, he’d say, showing her the X ray. A luminous white V appeared, through which he was able to give her a percentage of bone drift.
But this was their next project—the sides of her feet. Today it was the toe.
“I don’t know which,” she thought. But she did know. “Which would you recommend?”
Still holding her foot he flipped up the shades of his examining glasses and said: “You mean if you were my wife, what would I tell you to do?”
After an ever so slight syncopation of silence, and a little smile, she replied:
“Yes. If I were your wife.”
“I would say go with the radical option right away. ”
“Ok, let’s do that.”
After trundling up her foot, so she couldn’t see it, and numbing it with an orange solution, he began to cut away at her toe.
“Am I hurting you?” he said.
“No,” she said. “Not at all.”
–Celia Farber, 2011