Tale of Two Toes

OK, what is the name of the toe next to the pinky toe? Let’s say Charles. (My horoscope says I should name things.)

Charles is suffering because the pinky toe, whose real name is Edith, loves him soooooooo much she wants to snuggle up next to him real close and never let go. Charles is more of a solitary toe; he likes Edith fine, mind you, but he would prefer to be left to his jam collecting and nail-growing.

Last week Charles told Edith that he wanted some space. In fact, he mentioned his desire to get to know Sally, the toe on the other side of him, a little better. Rather than thanking him for his honesty and keeping her distance for a little while, Edith moved closer to Charles; a classic mistake. She knew, deep down, that gripping a handful of sand only makes it run through one’s fingers faster, but she couldn’t battle the instinct that told her to stay close, to never let him go.

It’s hard being a toe. You can’t escape the toes around you or your constraints. Charles strained and stretched but he just wasn’t getting anywhere. He felt jailed within the socks and shoes of my daily life and Edith was that tattooed bully in the prison yard.

Sally kept her opinions to herself, but if pressed, she would have admitted that she found Charles to be a little clingy and perhaps what he disliked so about Edith was reflected in his own personality.

One day recently Charles began to feel as though he was actually losing pieces of himself to Edith’s affection. He felt raw, exposed, as though he would never be Just Charles again. Parts of her were sticking to him, no matter how he shrank away. His defenses down, worn by her unending touch, he began to disappear.

I decided to step in and place a barrier between the two of them. I tried bandages, cotton balls and thought briefly about using foam earplugs. But when I tried to place socks and shoes over my bandaged feet and get on with my day (which, at the moment, involves socks and shoes) I found that my shoes rubbed unpleasantly against Edith’s outside edge, which had to this point been tucked neatly under Charles’ broad shoulder. With a cranky Edith and a miserable Charles, my pleasant 15 minute walk to work was turning into a psychological and physiological battle; me against my toes, my toes against each other.

The first solution presented itself: amputation! However, the internet presented only scary stories and besides, I like my toes. Charles especially. And Big Joe.

Saint Aardvark suggested sandals. I disregarded this suggestion.

The compromise I’ve reached with Charles, Edith, Sally, Frankie and Big Joe is that I’ll leave the bandage in place between the two estranged, with a special “hoodie” bandage over Edith, to give her some dark time to think about her life and go shoe-less as much as possible. Arlo (the arch) agreed to participate, though he does feel a little flat at the moment due to my having walked funny for a few days.

All I needed to hear was a grateful sniffle from Charles to know that I had done the right thing.

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