I don’t know why I remember my ingrown toenail, such a silly little thing. I don’t remember the sore toe but I remember sitting all alone in the foot doctor’s office on Chester Avenue and I think it was a rainy day. The AM radio was playing hit songs of the 1950s like “The Green Door” and Arthur Godfrey (howaya, howaya) was touting the merits of Lipton Tea in the background while I sat waiting.
I was ten or eleven years old, maybe twelve? Can’t rememeber but I do remember me as scared of my own shadow and if you looked up shy in the dictionary you might have found my photo.
The problem toe was my big toe on my right foot. The doctor did what he did and wrapped my poor toe up in a bandage that was way too big to fit inside my shoes so I was wearing a sneaker with the toe cut out, giving my bandaged toe plenty of room to wiggle in the air. I think I was wearing a shoe on the other foot. That was kind of dumb. I should have been wearing both sneakers.
I had to wear that sneaker with the hole cut out for my big toe for a couple of weeks. I remember having to serve mass wearing that silly sneaker. Standing there in the quiet church, smell of candles burning, I tried to tell the priest that I had to wear the sneaker because I had an ingrown toenail and couldn’t wear regular shoes until the bandages came off. I was on the verge of tears. Looking back, my condition was obvious. I was wearing that old sneaker on my right foot. My big toe was bandaged and sticking out for all to see. What other explanation was needed? None but I was so self conscious. Maybe I’m remembering the old sneaker and my embarrassment more than the pain of a sore toe.
Funny the kinds of things you remember.