I caught another man staring at my feet as I was airing them out on the patio at the One More Time Café. I never wear socks in the summer; even into the fall, especially when I’m sporting my Louis Vuitton loafers which were a happy score at the Goodwill store in Silver Lake.
He looked up to see that I had been watching him stare and said without embarrassment “You have an impressive God Toe.”
I repeated God Toe in my head before saying it aloud. “God Toe?”
He was nursing a large cup of Green Tea with the teabag still imparting itself in the cup. He went on to explain, “The big toe on the left foot is known as the God Toe.
He wore a burgundy bow tie. “Who calls it that?” I asked.
“I think the Rosicrucions. Or maybe the Zoraroastians.”
He wore stylish Stan Smith Tennis sneakers. I had to know more. “How does that particular toe earn the distinction of a God Toe?”
“The story that I was told” - He took a deep breath and approximated a shrug. “It’s the toe that God takes hold of to remind you that He exists.
“How does he take hold of it?”
“The usual way I imagine. Between thumb and forefinger.”
I took note of his dense orange hair, closely cropped. I’m an Atheist and proud of it, but I was willing to suspend my disbelief concerning a God Toe. “What’s it supposed to feel like when God touches your toe?” I asked, breathlessly.
“They say it’s kind of a burning sensation.”
I shifted in my chair to a more engaged stance. “I’ve had that! But I thought it was just angry Lymph nodes or possibly Gout.”
“That’s what I thought, too” he said, returning his gaze to my God Toe.
“Now that I think of it, it might have been the Jains.
I knew a bit about the Jains. One of the most Pacifist religions going; although I always thought they went a little too far by wearing filters over their mouths so as not to accidentally inhale tiny air born insects, bringing their already short lives to an abrupt end.
It did occur to me that he could possibly be putting me on, but I was a stranger to him. He wouldn’t get the same satisfaction from pranking a stranger as he would a friend. And because he was a stranger to me, I didn’t see any harm in having him think me gullible.
“Do you know others who have had that toe touched by God?” I asked him.
“There are apparently only a select few whom God cares enough about to be reminded of His existence.”
“But wouldn’t He favour the devout, those who never need to be reminded?”
“He doesn’t care much for them. From what I understand, He sees them as sycophants. He only seeks out those whom He admires; those who devote their time serving the community not in His name but in the name of the greater good.”
I had to say something, anything, before he asked me what I did for a living which was something I might have trouble citing the inherent virtues of. “Well, I’ll be…” was the best I could manage.
“They believe that worship is a barren concept and does nothing to make the world a better place,” he went on to explain in his tentative fashion.
“But why should God need to remind me that He exists if He already approves of how I conduct my life?”
“You’re asking me to psychoanalyse a God and I wouldn’t do that even if I believed in Him?
My mind was in the clouds. “The Jains?”
“I really can’t say with authority.”
It appeared that he wanted to end the conversation and so I slipped my right foot into my shoe. But before I went for my left shoe, I took another look at my big toe! I raised it up while keeping my other toes at ease. I was surprised how far up I could bend it. I drew his attention to it as I did it. “I can almost point it straight up at the sky.”
“Can you do that with your right toe?” he wanted to know.
With my left toe raised, I raised my right toe in the same way but I couldn’t keep my other toes on that foot flat. “Amazing! My right toe doesn’t have dexterity that the left one has”, I marvelled.
“Which toe do you kick with?” he asked.
”Say, if you were kicking a field goal..."
“Definitely my right.”
“You should try your left. You might be surprised.”
Now I was getting quite excited. I decided then and there that the next time I saw a couple of fellas throwing a football around in the park near where I live, I would ask them to pin it for me. I would be mindful to ask then to pin it with their left hand to accommodate my left foot approach.
Then I saw him lean forward and squint his eyes as though he suddenly noticed something that I hadn't. I wondered what I would do if he gave it a little squeeze. I was sure I wouldn’t know how to react.
“It looks like you have a fungal infection beneath your toenail.”
My dream of a freakish career in pro football came to a screeching halt.
“You ought to have that seen to,” he advised me. “You don’t want God touching that.”