right away, it was clear something was wrong with Claudia. For one thing, she wasn't wearing her high-powered attorney heels. For another, I could actually keep up with her as we walked down Polk Street. She'd been assailing me with stories of her married lover, to which I listened with half an ear -- his wife had found out, he said he wanted to leave his wife, but she'd put him through law school, the wife had started to call Claudia ...
"Is there anything wrong with your feet?" I interrupted.
She glared at me. "Why would you ask me that?"
"Well," I stopped and stared at her flat leather shoes, a dull color of navy. They looked like they'd been rained on quite a few times, and were profoundly unsexy. "Just curious what's up with the, the ..." I waved in the general direction of her feet.
She shuffled into Starbucks. "A double decaf nonfat latte with soy milk," she said to the goateed slacker, then turned to me. "Are you listening to me at all?"
"Not really," I admitted. "This is the thing about being involved with a married guy. None of your friends want to hear about it." Now I noticed she was actually limping as she made her way over to a table. "What's up with the gait, Claudia? Are you OK?"
"Believe me, you don't want to know."
"Believe me, I do."
She leaned down and slipped off one shoe, revealing a network of sports tape and Ace bandages beneath a thin cotton sock. "Sheesh," I said, "what happened? Did you trip while you were running?"
"No. Let me show you the bruise." She started to remove her sock.
"No -- wait. Just tell me."
Claudia looked up at me. "Are you one of those weird anti-feet people?"
"Yes, I am," I said. We'd had this discussion before, but I hadn't actually revealed to her that I was violently anti-foot, the polar opposite of a foot fetishist. "I've never found feet the least bit sexy or attractive or even passably good-looking. In fact, I find them disgusting." I got up and obediently retrieved her phony coffee drink. "By the way, have you ever noticed how coffee smells a little bit like feet after a jog around the Marina Green? Just a thought."
"Thanks for sharing," Claudia said shortly, accepting the cup. "Well, I love my feet, as you know. I have beautiful arches, and long graceful toes, and a nice narrowness ..."
I stifled a shudder. "How did you get that injury? Incidentally, you do realize you are the only woman I have ever heard of who likes her feet." I thought about all the gymnastics I would do in bed with a new lover to keep my feet out of his line of vision. Forget about the little tummy bulge, or the not-recently shaven arm pits or the dirty hair -- all those faults didn't matter a damn if there was a chance that he actually might espy those bony, callused, horny objects attached to the end of my legs.
Claudia looked interested. "Am I? There's nothing that turns me on more than having my feet worshipped -- rubbed, kissed, sucked on. Mmmm. How can you not like that?"
"Ugh," I said. "Let's just put it this way: In the immortal words of my friend Laura, another anti-footist, I have sucked more toes than I have had my toes sucked. I admit that I can get caught up in the moment and do it to others, but really. That Dick Morris toe-sucking incident? What a stupid way to lose your job. At least he could have been doing something more interesting, some bad sexual act that America could understand. Even Alfred Bloomingdale went out with a bang, riding on that hooker's back. Now that's something the rest of us could have a little respect for."
"Which brings me neatly to my injury," said Claudia, taking a sip of her coffee. "Mr. X was rubbing my feet. I'd just been running, and I'd felt a cramp in my arch. He takes off my sweaty little sock and begins to lace his fingers in between my toes. It feels great. Then he starts bending them, pulling on them. That feels even better. At this point I've ripped off my top and my sports bra. He's twisting my ankle around, massaging my ligaments on the top of my arch, and then we both hear it: snap. Just like that. A tiny sound, like if you stepped on a little dry twig."
I widened my eyes. "He broke your foot?"
"Just a hairline fracture," said Claudia, a little airily. "It'll heal in about four to six weeks. And I have to say, it didn't even hurt at the time. I was so caught up in the moment, and we had really great sex afterwards. Maybe endorphins have something to do with it." She looked at me with some sort of darkness in her eyes -- pity. "Now that I think about it, he has mentioned that I'm the only woman he knows who isn't ashamed of her feet. I think they're the most underrated sexual zone we girls have."
"Look where that opinion got you. Limping, swelling. Sounds really sexy."
"If you got a pedicure, you might like your feet more."
"Not a chance," I said. "That would mean that someone would actually have to touch them. And that's not happening in my lifetime."