By Melissa Churchill
My mother has six toes on her left foot. It makes me squeamish. I guess you could say her left foot reminds me why God only gave us five toes instead of six. In the summer when she wears sandals some people stop and stare. Although it is strange to look at her foot she is my mom, so I always say, “What are you looking at? Don’t you have six toes too?”
Mom and I laugh and joke about her toe because she doesn’t really care. I think she feels unique. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone else with six toes before. I mean I know it happens. I’ve just never seen it before. I wonder what my dad thought when he was dating her. I bet he said, “I hope she doesn’t ask me to massage her feet.” Then he probably mumbled “at least not that left one.”
My mom has a huge shoe fetish. Except that her left foot is bigger than the right because of that darn extra toe, so when she tries on shoes she asks for a size 6 and also a 6 ½. Then she takes the size 6 for her right foot and the 6 ½ for her foot with the extra toe. She tries to be sneaky when she switches. One time we were at Macy’s and she was trying on a pair of sneakers. I was looking at a pair of shoes for myself and I saw her switching and I said, “Mom, what are you doing?!!” She eyed me calmly and replied, “My left foot is bigger than the other, so I need a bigger size for my extra toe.”
One time we were on a beach in Florida, and I was in a really bad mood. My mom and I were arguing. I don’t even remember about what. Some people walked by and stared at her extra toe, and my mom looked at me because I always make some silly comment when that happens so that they will get embarrassed and look away. Except this time I was really mad at her, so I said, “Mom, why don’t you just get that stupid toe removed?!” Usually the people walk away, but this time their eyes got really big, like the eyes on fish in one of those glass bowls. They gasped and just kept staring at her left foot. I felt bad afterwards. Later I told my mom that she should never get rid of her extra toe because I like it. Then in her sweet little voice she said, “You wish you had my extra toe don’t you?” I just smiled back at her. I didn’t say it then, but I was thinking “No mom, I really don’t think I could handle having an extra toe.”
Actually, though, I think it makes my Mom stronger having six toes on one foot.
Oh by the way, I forgot to mention that her extra toe is a big toe, so she has the two big toes, one baby toe and those three medium-sized toes in the middle. Sometimes I hear her scream in the shower. It’s usually after I hear some clunking sound. I’m guessing she drops the soap on her extra toe every so often. When you have two big toes there is a lot more surface area on which to drop something. There is also more chance you will smash it into the coffee table leg. That’s another reason why I would never want to have an extra toe.
My mom loves that extra toe though. It’s funny when my grandma comes to visit. She is old and fragile and in her sweet old lady voice she always says to my mom, “Did you get that big toe removed yet? I always wanted to get that done when you were a baby. It wouldn’t have hurt that much. I guess now that you’re grown you’re just afraid.” Mom looks at grandma with a kind of “Oh mom I’m so sick of hearing this story” kind of tone. I understand how Mom feels. My grandma loves to tell stories, but she just rambles on and on about my mom’s toe and how she always wanted to get it cut off, but never found the time.
Melissa Churchill lives in Albany with her dog Molly. She is studying communications and business at the University at Albany, SUNY.