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Small Talk: Walk on the wild side

am a huge fan of going barefooted. I did it a lot when I was young and always felt it was the highlight of carefree summer.

Things change. I still like to go barefooted at home, but rarely do, now that I share the house with people who like to cook and work in the garden. As much as I love going barefooted, I loathe stepping in something sticky or crunchy. I do wish I had possessed the foresight to be a “take your shoes off at the door” kind of mom, but even now I find that a bit tiresome and time consuming.

The short of it is, I recently discovered that while my heels look like five miles of bad road, the rest of my feet soles are apparently as tender as a baby’s behind. I was blissfully unaware of this sad state of affairs until my car battery died and I decided to walk home from work (about a mile) the other day. I was wearing some old clogs that were fine until you started to walk downhill — and the walk home is all downhill.

It was a rare sunny day and I was suddenly overcome with the urge to spring back to my youth and shake off my shoes. It felt delicious, actually, as it was all pretty clear sidewalk. All was grand for the first three-quarters of a mile. Then I had to cross a wide street. Oh yeah. Asphalt gets really, really hot in the sunshine. This was something I actually knew, but something that had not crossed my mind for decades.

Eee, ooo, aaah, wow. I hustled across the street as fast as my feet could manage and all seemed OK until I was almost home. That last stretch of asphalt and sidewalk made itself known, as my feet began to seriously protest their sudden naked exposure. Who did I think I was — Tom Sawyer, for crying out loud?

One of the lovelier feelings I can remember was putting my feet under the cold-water faucet the minute I scurried through the door. Sadly, that bliss was short-lived. I had to put shoes back on to manage the rest of my day. I found my fluffiest socks and dressed my feet like the world’s biggest geek. Fortunately, I sit for the balance of the day, because walking was not for the faint of heart. Even through the socks, I could almost see the giant blisters forming.

I was sure I would be crippled for days, but happy ending, no blisters formed. By morning, most of the pain had subsided. Had I gone a mile plus 10 more feet, I suspect things might have ended differently and badly. It looks like it will be another summer of solid sandal wearing for me. I can live with that.

Jean Gillette is a freelance writer who is a delicate flower and will be buying her flip-flops by the dozen this year. Contact her at [email protected].