Gary Conkling Life Notes

Mostly whimsical reflections on life

Stubbed Toes as Achilles Heels

5942438018_stubbed_toe_xlargeMost people have a phobia about something. Mine is a constant worry of stubbing my toes when going barefoot

Living nightmares are hardly a laughing matter, and some people have spine-shivering nightmares. Aliens lurking in their closet. Debt collectors clamoring at the door. A Pizza Hut deep-dish pizza the size of the Grand Canyon.

I realize a toe stub seems like small potatoes compared to these apocalypses, but I still wince at just the thought of a toe bumping into the leg of a sofa.

Thinking back, I can’t say I’ve always fretted about my feet. I did thrash around in a portable pool and cut my foot on a rusty downspout. I wound up with blood poisoning and a painful tetanus shot. But who remembers something as trivial as that, which occurred in the early afternoon July 17, 1954?

My toe-stub phobia is more likely the result of a teenage obsession not to look like a klutz. Teenagers back in my day tripped over their own feet and the protruding, improbably tricked-out hubcaps of their Hudson Ramblers.

Stubbing your toe and uttering, “doggone it,” just didn’t fit with the cool image you wanted to project. The cool girls, I desperately believed, liked the guys who could stub their toe, laugh as if nothing happened and stride off into the sunset.

As time elapsed, the toe stub has become a larger fear – and more frequent occurrence. I have developed a knack to pooch kick a wide variety of hard-sized objects – suitcases, the bedpost and the shower door.

My defense is to wear footwear pretty much all the time. I go barefoot in the shower, but only after checking out the logistics of the shampoo jug. I drop my sandals beside, after calibrating the pendulum needed to wheel my feet into place without stubbing my toe on the bed sheets.

Paranoid, you say. That’s like saying someone who fell out of a third-floor window shouldn’t be wary of leaning out the overlook windows of the Sears Tower.

Of course, I’m paranoid. I’ve stubbed my toes and it hurts. In addition to providing ample rubber protection for my toes, I try to anticipate dangerous situations. I don’t go barefoot into the ocean where I could stub my toe on a sea turtle. I don’t go barefoot onto a football field where I could stub my toe on a football player’s misplaced mouthpiece. I don’t go barefoot at the office where I could stub my toe on a coworker’s desk. I don’t even go barefoot in my own closet where I could stub my toe on my own shoes.

431830366v3_225x225_frontSadly, this has happened more than once. Fear of toe stubbing doesn’t mean I’m not a tough guy. Just ask me. I’m a tough guy. But my toes are my Achilles heel. I could slay Hector, but stub my toe on the Trojan horse.

Stubbed toes are no big deal, you say. Not true. You can destroy a toenail, break a toe or even undermine your New Year’s Resolution to curtail cursing.

You keep losing sleep over a ding in a car crash or a ski lift tower collapse. I will be on guard against the ordinary toe stub that could change the course of my life, changing my dapper demeanor into a dour grimace from unbearable pain and lifelong opposition to Obamacare. Nobody every called stubbed toes a pre-existing condition.

 

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