Feets Too Big

All the places I won’t walk.

I said I’m sorry to an earthworm. Out loud.


It was cut in half, lying on the asphalt. Commiserating with a worm is not something I would ordinarily do, but I could in some ways relate to the creature. I’ll be able to move, but slowly, on crutches, after my foot surgery in three days. My right foot is eventually going to be good as new.

baby feet

My left foot will have to wait to get its imperfections mended. I didn’t know that a tailor’s bunion, the aberrant bump on the outside of the foot — the one that will no longer allow me to get into anything besides flip flops — was named for the way tailors traditionally sat. Cross-legged.


I guess it cramped the style of their little toe. Too bad they didn’t have Dr. Voellmicke,  my orthopedic surgeon, to fix them up. I’ll be in a hard cast for six weeks. That little bone that leads up to your toe, the one you never think about, is virtually marrowless, which means it has very little of the good stuff inside it needs to heal properly. Then, while Dr. Voellmicke is at it, he’s going to fix the golf ball size knot of a bone spur that has decided it likes to surf my big toe knuckle. (That’s a mix of about five metaphors, if you’re counting.)

No real walking, no driving, a lot of hurry up and wait. “You can rent one of those little scooters at the drug store,” said the nurse. I don’t think so.

Today, Dalton Trumbo’s Johnny Got His Gun popped into my mind. Maybe because my friend Jennifer and I were talking about the dark novels we read when we were adolescents that were probably too old for us, not to mention already a bit dated — Margerie Morningstar and The Group among them. Johnny, which Trumbo published in 1939, told the story of a soldier who has lost all his limbs in a war as well as all of his face (including his eyes, ears, teeth, and tongue).


I remember how incredibly disturbing was the point of view of the novel, from inside the cave of this tortured guy’s mind. He wasn’t a lump, as he appeared to those around him. Trumbo went on to become one of Hollywood’s best-paid screenwriters, and won two Oscars under pseudonyms even while being blacklisted. I never knew about any of that when I was growing up, just that Johnny Got His Gun was a great tour de force. (And that I was a little bit cool to be reading it.)

But as for me, feel sorry for my self as I might, I will hardly be a lump after Friday.  I’ll just be a tiny bit inconvenienced, incommoded, and rendered relatively adventureless, by an elective surgery that’s going to fix a minor imperfection so I will be able to go hiking in the woods again, or dawdling down the street in New York City, or swimming in my cardio class… I should be thinking not of Trumbo but humming to Your Feet’s Too Big by Fats Waller.

Say up in Harlem at a table for two
There were four of us
Me, your big feet and you
From your ankles up, I’d say you sure are sweet
From there down; there’s just too much feet
Yes, your feets too big
Don’t want ya, ’cause ya feets too big
Can’t use ya, ’cause ya feets too big
I really hate ya, ’cause ya feets too big

What I am doing, aside from humming, until the day of my surgery… simple things. The things you don’t ordinarily think about. Simple pleasures. Ones I need two feet for.

Pogo-ing. Check.

Fixing up a coffee station in my new living room/bedroom — no stairs for me anytime soon.

Harvesting the garden.

ripe tomatoes

Weeding the garden, with help from Maud.

Walking down the stairs to the kitchen, the steps  I usually complain about, to make herbal iced tea with chamomile, mint and lavender from my garden.

herb tea

Going to Jones Beach tomorrow, getting some sand between my soon to be fiber-glassed toes.


Hopefully Maud and I will relish it as Gil and I did last year.

Nails, both fingers and toes. Gossip included, with my good friend Betsy.

Make a reading list. Reread the Trumbo? A movie list. A music playlist. Seriously think about a knitting project.

Drive. I so take it for granted ordinarily. But when we walk by the Hudson at dusk, then drive with the windows down through the warm dark night, Bruce on the radio — It’s midnight in Manhattan, this is no time to get cute, it’s a mad dog’s promenade — an ice cream dripping, I already feel nostalgic about having two feet in hand.


Filed under Cooking, Culture, Home, Jean Zimmerman, Nature, Writers

9 responses to “Feets Too Big

  1. I’m accepting guest posters if you’re interested.

  2. All for the best though. After all, imagine having to live with kidney stones, forever?

  3. Andy

    But what will you blog about? The life of the mind I suppose! Don’t hesitate to call on us if we can help in any way…….

  4. That anonymous comment was mine. For some reason this thing has been posting me as anonymous, but really, it’s just me.

  5. Anonymous

    Oh, I wish I was there to bring you a pot of homemade chicken soup. At the very least, I will wish you a speedy recovery. My oldest son goes in for surgery to remove kidney stones, and that’s not going to be a picnic. However, is it ever a good time to be inconvenienced?

  6. Thank you Nora, I’ll let you know how it goes…

  7. Nora Balaban

    That Fats Waller song reminds me of Pete Z and high school … I will be out to visit you … and help in any way I can!

  8. Mind over matter, said my doctor. I’m going to try for that.

  9. Nonnie Balcer

    Feel for you…and that hurts a bit! Time for some John O’Hara novels…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s