By Norma Kirkpatrick
When I was a young child, my beautiful Aunt Ruth had agreed to take me on the city bus to my first group tap-dancing lesson. I thought she was old and grown up; but she was probably only sixteen. Before we got on the bus, we had dropped by the shoe repair shop. It was much like Summer’s Shoe Repair down by the railroad tracks here in Opelika.
We had taken the new dance shoes to that particular repair shop because the owner knew exactly how to put the taps in place. There was a depression in the taps where he inserted a dime before attaching them to the shoes. That would make the sound of tapping more distinct as the dimes rattled around.
Puffed up and proud of my new shoes, I strutted to the bus stop and boarded the city bus. While holding my aunt’s hand, I could barely make it up the two tall steps. I was so little my legs and feet stuck straight out on the seat as I rode to my first real life adventure.
“Oh, Norma, you have your shoes on the wrong feet!” Beautiful Aunt Ruth said.
I looked at her tearfully. “But Aunt Ruth,… these are the only feet I’ve got.”
When I got a little older, my Mother said, “Norma, always put your best foot forward.” Since I am left handed, I am also left footed, so I figured that must be my best foot. It was natural for my kicking foot, and putting my sock on first.
About that time, my Daddy told me to quit dragging my feet; and I didn’t think I was, but I knew not to talk back to my Daddy.
There was a boy at school who was especially clumsy and the teacher told him he had two left feet. Now that was really a mystery; almost as strange as when I found out from my Grandma that a yard had three feet. I thought that would really be something to see and wondered whose yard that was. Oh yes, and then there was the boy who was pigeon toed; I was sure he could not get shoes.
Once, I overheard adults talking about a man who was always putting his foot in his mouth. That sounded like a very bad habit to me and I was hopeful he washed his foot first. Another lady had corn on her toes; I thought she should wash it off. I finally figured out the thing about toes having nails, but was never sure if there was a useful reason.
Yes, I found feet to be confusing when I was a child. Now I know they can be flat, or have high arches; some people are down in the heels and you don’t have to play tennis to wear tennis shoes. High heels were made to make women look good while their feet are killing them at the same time, and they have to learn not to frown. That’s not lady like.
To conquer the abundance of foot absurdities, when I am home alone, I put on my favorite old pair of bedraggled house slippers. They aren’t pretty but feel real good. I also can trust them to always be on the right feet. That’s my feet, of course.