If you really want to insult me, the worst thing you could possibly do is compliment my bare feet. In fact, I would rather you point, laugh and make fun of them because that’s what I typically do. You see, I have the most beautiful, dainty, smoothest, girly feet you’ve ever see for a grown man. For the few who have seen them naked in all their glory, the ladies admired and envied them and the men were befuddled by them. I hate them. To this day, few people have seen my naked feet. I keep them constantly concealed with a carefully crafted security barrier of socks and shoes.
When I was a kid, I didn’t realize how beautiful my feet were until other kids called me ‘girly feet’ during a class trip to Suntan Lake, a local swimming hole. Immediately, I began to secretly compare my feet to all the other kids—boys and girls alike. Do I really have girly feet? I was in the sixth grade, and at that age, most of the girls were taller and bigger than the boys. As I expected, many girls had uglier and bigger feet than me. Since that was the case, why were they calling me ‘girly feet’? I quickly developed a deep inferiority complex about my feet. No one will ever see them naked again, I vowed.
As I grew up, I made true on my mission to hide my bare feet from everyone. However, on my 18th birthday, I was forced to give in to pressure from my girlfriend’s parents. “We’re treating you to a day’s adventure at Wet ‘n Wild” they ordered, “to swim, sun and fun!” My girlfriend literally grabbed me by the arm and forced me in their car—I was going despite my objections. During the ride, my thoughts were consumed with the stress of undressing my feet in public. Everyone’s gonna see my naked feet. What if they call me “girly feet”, too? I fretted. When we arrived at the park, I was all too eager to hang with the adults and stroll around the park fully adorned in socks and shoes and somehow avoid the inevitable. Of course, my socks and shoes eventually came off after an intense tug-of-war with my girlfriend. There I was. With my naked feet exposed to the world. Wow, you have beautiful feet! she said. For a guy. Gee, thanks.
Years later, when I met my wife, one of the first things I did was secretly compare my bare feet to hers while she was sleeping. Oh my god!, I gagged. I discovered that my wife’s feet were the epitome of man feet – thick, calloused, bunioned, and just all around nasty. What’s worse is that she’s not afraid to show them off—she proudly strolls around barefoot all the time! Unlike me, she couldn’t care less about feet – hers (unfortunately) or mine (thankfully). Because of her neglect, I begged her to get her first-ever pedicure. After much nagging, she finally gave in but invited me to go with her. They’ll have to use an electric belt sander on your nasty-ass feet, baby. And besides, I don’t need a pedicure. You already know how beautiful my feet are. My feet self-pedicure. Duh. My wife has seen my bare feet a total of two times in seven years—and I’m certain she didn’t have her contacts in either time.
The relationship with my feet has become more uncomfortable than ever. I refuse to go shoeless—even around the house. At the very least, I wear socks—thick, heavy socks—even during hot summer days. I avoid all activities that require me to go barefoot. Flip flops? Never. Sandals? Forget it. No one will get the pleasure to see my naked feet. No one will ever give me another insulting compliment of how beautiful, dainty, smooth and girly they are. Damn, if I could shower with my socks on I’d do it.
Self-image is complicated. I hate the unreasonable, obsessive, and downright crazy image that I have of my bare feet. In reality, I’m sure my feet are just fine. So what if they’re beautiful, dainty, smooth and girly. Maybe I should grow some balls, buy a pair of sandals and wear them all summer long. If I receive a comment or a compliment, I’ll just smile and say yeah, be jealous over my girly feet you haters.
But again, some things never change. If I ever decide to go streaking during a televised sporting event, you’ll know it’s me. I’ll have my socks on. And if I’m ever challenged to a game of strip poker, my socks will be the last to go.