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I found out podiatrists do not get a kick out of puns

January 23, 1997

This week I went to a podiatrist. I went only because my feet hurt so bad I was about to start crawling, and I thought that might look funny, especially to people I was approaching for man-on-the-street interviews.

I went to the foot doctor out of desperation. I do not like going into offices that contain sharp surgical instruments in little closed-lid boxes. I sometimes get minor heart palpitations when I go into such places.

Desperation, that's what it was.

My left foot has hurt for roughly 10 years. Being the stoic type, I've tried to ignore the corn that has clung steadfastly and painfully to my little toe.

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I've bought one shoe larger than the other to take off the pressure, only to find the fact that my foot was floating around in my shoe caused corns in other places.

I've bought the sharpest razor blades known to man and pain-stakingly shaved the sucker down to manageable size. It just grew back.

I tried walking with my body leaning to the right, to relieve the pain. That worked, but my left knee started to swell up and my hip sort of rotated out of place.

I considered using a blowtorch on it.

I said bad words to it.

When the pain became intolerable and I started walking on the side of my foot, I broke down and made an appointment with a podiatrist.

He was a nice guy. I felt comfortable with him. That was a good thing, because if I hadn't felt very safe he would have had to work on me while I still had my socks on.

I've had a hangup about my feet ever since my brother started teasing me about them, which was when he first learned to speak. "Ook at erry fee. BIG! HEE HEE HEE," he would shout gleefully.

As a result, for years I would not show my feet in public, which made it very difficult for me to do fun things like swim and walk barefoot in the grass.

(Actually, in the company of trusted relatives in Georgia one year when I was about 8 years old I did frolic barefoot in the backyard at my cousin Bennie's house. I was pretending I was a ballerina.

I frolicked loftily under a mimosa tree for approximately 10 seconds, at which point my pirrhouette petered out in mid-air. When I came down, the ball of my foot landed directly on the upturned stinger of a particularly toxic yellow jacket. I have not frolicked barefoot since.)

Anyway, I've had this hangup about my feet, which makes it very difficult to bare my sole to strangers.

The podiatrist seemed to be compassionate, so I gritted my teeth and took my shoes and socks off. (It's amazing what corns can make you do.)

"On a scale of one to 10, your feet really aren't that bad," he said. "Where would you rate them?" I asked.

Silence.

Actually, I think he was talking about their condition, as opposed to their attractiveness. But I wasn't sure.

Anyway, we talked and then the podiatrist got ready to remove the obnoxious little corn. I remember saying something then about playing footsy. (I use my sense of humor to deal with fear.)

I think maybe I also mentioned footing the bill, and hitting it on the nail.

I found out puns do not faze podiatrists.

He reached into his little close-lidded metal box and grabbed the nearest instrument of torture.

"Think I'll close my eyes and meditate," I mumbled.

He was good. Real good. It wasn't long before the detested corn was removed.

As it turned out, it was a good thing I broke down and went to the podiatrist. He said the corn was so deep it threatened to break through the bottom of my toe and root me to the earth.

That would have been awful. I mean, I wouldn't have been able to turn and run when I saw my brother coming.

I would have had to just stand there swaying, listening to his insults.

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