Curly Toes

Dear Mom and Dad:CurlyToes

How are you enjoying disembodiment?

Good, I hope.

I often think about all your former aches and pains, especially as I’m growing older, too. No longer having a physical body must be a huge relief. Whew, I can only imagine.

And while I’m grateful you gave birth to me, I just gotta say…

Having a body totally sucks.

Take for example my early childhood fevers, those terrible leg aches—I remember you both staying up at night, taking turns rubbing my legs while I cried, and feeding me applesauce laced with aspirin. I thought those nights would never end.

Or my baby tooth, which never had an adult one underneath it, insuring I’d need my first dental bridge.

And while we’re on the face part of things, why couldn’t you have left me the ability to smile, to show teeth? While at a recent checkup, I asked my dentist how I might have a beaming smile for all to see. He shrugged and said that, genetically, my face didn’t allow for it. So when people ask me to smile, say, for a photograph, I tell them I’m only able to muster a Dustin Hoffman-like smirk.

Or the acne that plagued my junior high years: greasy hair, greasy skin, leading to pimples, blackheads (oh, yeah, thanks Dad for letting baby brother help squeeze those horrid things on my back—in the living room of all places—another wonderful Family Project bonding session) … my whole body was a battlefield, land mines of stinging red pimples that would suddenly appear, pus oozing from its pores.

The human body. What a pathetic thing.

Then there was the public humiliation that followed—revealed in gym class, I’m sure, while we changed into school shorts and t-shirts for the daily game of Bombardment (aka Dodgeball)—of my…

Curly toes.

There, I said it. I have curly toes.

You know how most people’s feet just lay flat, and the big toenail, also flat, juts out ahead of it? Well, I don’t have that. It must be a recessive gene because I don’t remember either of you having curly toes. Or baby brother. Everyone else: normal, human-looking, flat and regular toes.

Who cursed me with these hideous things?

There in the junior high locker room, naturally, came the teasing. “Man, you’ve got some weird-ass feet. Hey guys, check out Mop’s curly toes! Curly Toes!”

Oh God, it all comes rushing back.

Of course all of that had to happen at an age when you’re the most emotionally susceptible to taunting and humiliation.

Then you jump on a school bus in the afternoon to arrive at home in time for your father to pop out more blackheads on your shoulders and back. And you couldn’t just try and smile about it because your teeth were terrible and you were always a loathsome, greasy, slimy, unsmiling mess and, well, nobody ever really loved you.

That sounds about right.

Now, I would’ve forgotten all this had I not discovered copies of doctor bills for a procedure done in early December 1983, when I was 23 years old.

CurlyToes2That year I dealt with the worst case of ingrown toenail ever. The fault was mine, because I was advised to always cut my toenails longer—if I cut them too short, they’d grow straight into my flesh. Then it was like walking around with daggers sticking out of your feet.

Before heading to work at the print shop, I wrapped my big toes in gauze and wore Sorel boots all day, just to allow room for my feet to move freely without stabbing me. If my shoes were too tight, my feet bled. It was agonizing.

Enter Dr. S. Scott Standa, podatrist.

On Dec. 3, 1983, he inspected my curly toes and said: “Well, we could permanently remove your big toenails. Forever.”

Dr. Standa’s diagnosis (which came with a copy of the insurance report) stated “pyogenic paronychia” and “onychogryphotic nails,” which were actually never as bizarre-looking as the “ram’s horn” condition—just a regular toenail growing into an abnormally shaped toe.

But hold on. Lose a body part? Like, never have a big toenail ever again?!

I’d lost teeth before. The Tooth Fairy always came and left a quarter for every baby tooth gone belly up. Fair deal.

But both my big toenails? And forever?

Apparently I didn’t consider it very long, as six days later Dr. Standa numbed up my feet and yanked out the offending nails. Then he applied phenol to the toenail’s germinal matrix to ensure it would never grow back. The entire procedure cost $275. I was off work for a couple days so I could keep my feet elevated and heal up.

So, Mom and Dad, I’m still your curly toed eldest son. But I no longer have to deal with the agony of ingrown toenail.

Now if I could only figure out how to get that face with a winning smile.

~ by completelyinthedark on February 20, 2015.

One Response to “Curly Toes”

  1. Reblogged this on Completely in the Dark and commented:

    Apologies, but I WILL be back on new posts after winding up Medium 100 Days next Tuesday. Have 2 posts in the hopper. Crazy new schedule. For now, I’m hoping to get in with a podiatrist again since my feet hate me again. :-/ cheers MM


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