Lately, after I take my daily walk, my feet hurt...on the tops of them.
“That’s just plain weird!” my husband said when I complained. “Don’t people’s feet usually hurt on the bottoms?”
“Maybe,” I said, “but most people’s feet aren’t as flat as mine.”
I wasn’t exaggerating. When it comes to arches, my feet have no clue what they are. If I leave a barefooted footprint anywhere, it looks like a Frisbee with toes sticking out of it.
A few years ago, I had some professional orthotics made to give my feet a lift, and paid so much for them, I wasn’t certain whether I should wear them or display them in a museum. Unfortunately, they vanished when we moved three years ago. Somewhere, in one of the 300 boxes crammed with stuff in the basement, the orthotics are hiding and chuckling to themselves, “We won’t have to ever be near anyone’s sweaty old feet again! This is great!”
Seeing that my current running shoes have about 100,000 miles on them, which I figured wasn’t helping, I was excited when I saw an area store’s advertisement for a big sale on all of its big-name running shoes, including Nike, Asics, New Balance and many more – all 40 to 60 percent off. The sale was for only one day, however.
“I’m off to buy a new pair of shoes,” I said to my husband last Saturday as I rushed past him and headed for the door. “And they’re going to have super-duper support in them so the tops of my feet won’t hurt any more.”
The shoe department in the store looked as if a wild bachelor party had been held there before I arrived. Shoes, socks, tissue paper and boxes were everywhere – on the floor, upside down on the shelves, and piled on the seats where people try on shoes.
I found a nice-looking silver and blue pair of running shoes in my size in the women’s section. They were marked down from $79 to $54. I grabbed them, then sat down and tried them on. They fell off my feet.
“My feet are shrinking!” I said out loud. I secretly hoped it meant everything else on my body was about to follow suit and shrink, too.
A clerk, a young guy who happened to be standing within earshot while attempting to put some boxes back in order, smiled at me and said, “Those are men’s.”
“But I got them in the women’s section!” I said.
“That’s no surprise,” he said, shaking his head. “It was such a madhouse here all morning, we’ve even been finding shoes in housewares!”
I tried on at least a dozen different styles of running shoes. One pair pinched my big toe. Another had a seam that dug into the side of my foot. And yet another, from the feel of it, all but guaranteed an instant quarter-sized blister on my heel.
Finally, I found a pair that actually felt comfortable. But when I looked at the shoes on my feet, my toes looked as if they were pointing toward each other instead of straight ahead. I took a few steps. No doubt about it – I had penguin feet.
I approached the aforementioned clerk and asked him, “Do you think my toes are really pointing inward in these, or is it just the curved pattern on the shoes creating that illusion?”
He stared at my feet. “Good question. Well, let me ask you this...do your toes actually feel like they’re physically turning in?”
I honestly couldn’t tell. I shrugged.
“Then don’t look down at them,” he said. “Look straight ahead and walk for me.”
I lifted my head and walked a few feet while he watched.
“Well, they look fine to me,” he said, “...that is, if you don’t mind walking with your left foot on top of your right one all the time!” He chuckled.
I frowned at him. Sighing, I took off the penguin shoes and continued my search. After what seemed like two more hours of trying to wedge my feet into a variety of torturous styles, I finally found a shoe that not only was comfortable, it provided solid support. The problem was, it was $90, on sale. Still, at that point, I was so tired, I didn’t care how much the shoe cost, even if it meant I had to sign over my house to the store.
“Do you know where the other shoe is that matches this one?” I held up the shoe I’d just tried on so the clerk could see it. “There was only one in the box.”
He searched...and searched some more, but never found the missing shoe. I figured it probably was dangling from a rack of bras somewhere in the lingerie department.
All I ended up buying was a pair of jeans that have a special built-in tummy flattener and butt-lifter.
They may not help my feet when I take my walks...but at least I’ll look a lot shapelier while I’m suffering.