bare witness

We all have funny habits. Those strange little quirks that others tend to marvel at, question or shake their heads. With summer taking its course, I'm left to answer a funny question. How can you not wear sandals? Well, I used to wear sandals for years before this habit came along and suddenly, as I grow older, my strange quirk has elevated into becoming a totally irrational fear. It's not that I'm afraid of feet or the look of them, as they somehow remind me of potatoes, it's more that I'm afraid of dirty feet.

I was probably 8 years old when I first caught myself rushing up the stairs of my grandmother's house, to wash my feet in the bath tub after playing outside with my sister and cousins. We'd play for hours, barefoot on the pavement, yet somehow somewhere the idea struck me as being totally gross. To sum it up, dirty feet to me is like the equivalent of having dirty hands. And so, from explaining this part of the equation, my next story might make more sense as to why I said what I think is the stupidest thing to say to a bride during a wedding ceremony.

It was the wedding of my dear friend Colette, from Winnipeg, who had asked me and our circle of friends to be part of the ceremony. Debbie and Rebecca were to recite a poem together, while I was to sign as a witness. As we were all slightly jittery, waiting for our parts, Debbie decided that a way to shake off some of the nerves and the possibility of tripping up the aisle was to take our shoes off. Rebecca followed suit without hesitation, where I tensely sat up in my chair. Thankfully they added no pressure to the situation and admired their painted toes together while I waited to decide.

Now that the room was silent, the more I began to think about going up sounding like a Clydesdale pony or ungracefully falling on my face, as I had to keep in mind that these were my first pair of high heeled shoes. Yes, at the age of 29 I had never worn heels before. Debbie's plan sounded way too masterful, so I took a deep breath and unbuckled my shoes. Thrilled, gawking as I curled up my toes and kept them from touching the ground, the girls giggled over our rebellious freedom. Anxiety at a 6 of 10.

When the ceremony ended and it was my cue to go up, I felt a slight out of body experience as I floated up the aisle on my toes, feeling like my shoulders just might possibly fit in my ears. Dirty feet, dirty feet. Suddenly, all I could think about was doing the job right. Where do I sign? Swooshy K, loopy L and I'm done. It's done. As I look to the happy bride and she grabs my hand lightly to mouth the words "thank you" I loosen my shoulders and whisper back the first thing that comes to my mind. Not congratulations, you're welcome, I'm happy for you, or anything remotely endearing. Instead I replied, while looking once more back at the crowd, anxiety 9 of 10, "I'm not wearing any shoes."

Oh yes, I'm well aware that I'm a giant loser.

1 comment:

Kert Gartner said...

That's a fantastic story :)