I have ugly feet. I know the Bible talks about beautiful feet, but mine are just plain unattractive. My big toes are abnormally big, the other toes are pudgy, and my feet are flatter than an Iowa cornfield. I don't mean to disparage the appendages the good Lord provided - I'm just a realist.
Thomas, the 13-year-old, observed my bare feet on the beach the a few weeks ago. "Wow," he said. "Look at your feet." Indeed.
Unsightly as they may be, my feet are still functional - at least until last week. I was on the final stretch of a six mile run in Central Park when I turned a corner to quickly and my right foot came down at an unusual angle. I felt a slight sliver of pain shoot around my ankle, but otherwise didn't think much about it.
The following morning, I lumbered out of bed and immediately winced in agony. My foot was about the size of a ripe grapefruit. That's not good, I thought. Instead of making a doctor's appointment, I decided to wish the pain away. It didn't work. So five days later, I hobbled over the emergency room at New York's Methodist Hospital.
I consider myself a fairly ecumenical fellow, but I've never been to a Methodist hospital before. In Memphis, the Baptists went to the Baptist hospital, the Methodists went to the Methodist hospital and the atheists went to --- well - you can just imagine where they went.
The hospital is not too far from my Brooklyn apartment and to the best of my knowledge no patients have died in the waiting room while waiting to see a doctor. That actually happened a few months ago at one of our city's esteemed healing centers.
It took about eight hours to see the doctor and about ten minutes to figure out what was wrong. "It's either broken or it's not," said the doctor. I was in too much pain to offer a pithy retort. A few minutes later I was dispatched to the x-ray department where I met a technician named Latrice.
"What's your problem, baby?"
"I have an ugly foot," I said matter-of-factly.
She let out a gusty laugh that seemed to shake the room. "Baby, I've heard a lot of problems in my day, but this is a first. Take off that shoe, honey. Let me see what God done give you."
I sat on the edge of the x-ray table, unlaced my Nu-Balance running shoes and pulled out my throbbing foot. (Notice the subtle product placement?)
Soon, she was ordering me pose my foot this way and that way, snapping all sorts of shots. There was one particular pose that reminded me of a recent Vanity Fair cover. I just needed a bunch of grapes and two anorexic models wearing togas.
"Work it, baby, Work it," Latrice said, as I flipped and flopped my wounded foot.
After the photo shoot, I was given a little something-something to help with the pain. I'm not too sure about the dosage, but I vaguely remember a bizarre moment that involved a physician's assistant and a Bee Gee's song. I managed to hit a few of the high notes on How Deep is Your Love. It's been my experience that Bee Gee's music sounds much better when you are medicated.
All of that to say I do not have a broken foot - just a bad sprain. As I was about to leave, I ran into Latrice, the x-ray technician. "I've seen a lot of feet in my day, and baby, your feet got character. You've fine feet."
With a wink she turned to leave and I hobbled into the dark night, smiling and somewhat amused, humming that Bee Gee's song as I waited for a cab. How deep is your love? How deep is your love.....