“Oh my gosh Mer, thanks for driving me all around campus this afternoon. Without you I couldn’t have registered for every class I wanted, especially the ancient history ones. I just don’t know what I would do without you!” I waived good-bye to my friend Meredith, a childhood friend from Urbana. Meredith had been in my older brother Peter’s class, the year ahead of me at Urbana High School, and I followed them both to attend the University of Wisconsin. Although our families belonged to the same synagogue, and we even worked together in the café of a local retirement facility while in high school, Meredith and I hadn’t become close friends until I arrived to Madison for my freshman year. “No worries, Meg, anytime!”
Little did she realize how worried I really was about the nightmare of trekking across the huge campus in the middle of winter to register in each different department. I had run into Meredith back home during the Christmas holiday and, when I mentioned my stress about it, she offered that she’d have a car on campus and would help me. I quickly accepted, recalling the crazed scene that past August during our first registration. These were the days before computerization of the process and students were required, by class, to line-up in a large barn to register. However, signing up for classes was still not that simple. The barn was merely a starting point where all incoming students received their registration form. When the time came and all were ready, our feet firmly planted in the dirt floor, we heard a voice over a speaker mumbling, then quickly a loud, “GO” accompanied by an equally loud, “BANG.”
In that moment, thousands of students dashed out of the barn as fast as they could to get to each building before the class of their choice was filled. A lover of writing, I darted out as fast as my feet would take me to the Journalism school, clear across campus. Unlike some Freshman, who didn’t know exactly what they wanted to do with their lives, I was obsessed with writing. Only, within minutes of the start, I had barely run two blocks. It’s not that I couldn’t run at all, but I was well-aware that my having only one toe on each tiny “foot” had always meant that I could never walk fast or run with any real speed.
Finally, I arrived at my destination, Journalism 101. “Sorry, the Freshman classes are all filled. You might try the History Department, they usually have larger classes. Try again next semester.” I was out of luck, and my feet had failed me.
Each year the hardest month for me to deal with mentally is May. Like everyone else, I look forward to warmer temperatures, attending Charlie’s baseball games, playing tennis with Ethan, watching Savanna acting like a monkey on her favorite tree, riding bikes with all three, and dining outdoors with John. However, May also represents the month that fashion changes seemingly overnight. Even with the chill of April still in the air, women can’t wait to break out their sandals. At work I had been relieved when employers had banned open-toed shoes in the office. However, judging by all of the colorful pedicures in the elevators, I suspect fashion has won over protocol.
I thought about this seasonal fashion priority recently when I read a New York Times article written by Laren Stover called, “Make Them Fit, Please!” In the piece, Stover begins with Dr. Ali Sadrieh, a podiatrist who started ‘Evo Advanced Foot Surgery’ thirteen years ago in Beverly Hills, California. According to Sadrieh, “Patients would bring in shoes they dreamed of wearing….I came to see that [women] need these shoes to project confidence, they are part of her outside skin. That’s the real world.” The medical procedure alters the foot to fit the shoe. It is so popular, as his patients’ belief that surgery is a fusion between medicine and fairytale, Dr. Sadrieh coined his surgery, “The Cinderella Procedure.” Not surprisingly other doctors have followed in his aesthetic footsteps.
Dr. Oliver Zong, founder of NYC Footcare ad self-proclaimed ‘originator of the foot facelift and toe-tuckz’ routinely corrects “conditions” such as what he calls, “The HitchhikersToe,” (an abnormally large big toe that sticks out like a thumb). Yet some patients are just never quite satisfied. Annette Healey, patient of orthopedic surgeon Dr. Craig Radnay, described that although she can now wear Prada, Manolo and Gucci heels, “Sadly, I will never get my foot into a Christian Louboutin.”
Stover also wrote about doctors who oppose such surgeries. Dr. Jonathan Deland at the Hospital for Special Surgerysaid, “The most important thing about a foot is that it doesn’t hurt you and you can function.” But, responding to patients with a corrective procedure to fix painful bunions, Dr. Suzanne Levine (Park Avenue podiatrist) noted that beyond the medical response to physical discomfort, “Some people won’t go to the beach or the pool, they’re so embarrassed about their feet.”
There is no question I have spent a majority of my life embarrassed about the way my feet look…..they are just so darn different. Even I am taken aback when I see them sock-free in the mirror (no joke)! In fact, only last month after writing my prior blog, “Charlie’s gift”, did I actually find the strength and courage to flaunt them publically on the DHIFI Facebook page. In that respect, someone else’s pre- Cinderella foot would still be pretty perfect to me. After all, they can readily walk, run, and engage in any physical activity, no Manolo’s or Jimmy Choo’s required. At the end of the day, I suppose it all comes down to life perspective and priorities. I may as well appreciate May just like any other month. After all, I view my feet as utilitarian no matter the time of year. Even if I can’t speed walk or run fast, my feet still get me from point A to point B. And, “to boot,” I suspect I’ve saved a fortune.
This past weekend I flew to Chicago and joined my close college friends (including Meredith, now a successful doctor in Chicago) on a girl’s weekend to Madison, Wisconsin, our alma mater. When we were planning our road-trip, I couldn’t help channeling the past and asked Meredith to drive us all. When she arrived, I noted that she was wearing a shoe-boot and asked what had happened. “Oh, I broke my metatarsal lifting my nephew……but as long as I wear the boot I can walk around with no pain.” Then she smiled and added, “Anyway, it was worth it just to get a good hug.” Like me, Meredith is incapable of sporting strappy sandals this Spring. And like me, she has learned how to be fully satisfied regardless.