Curly Toes

I was chatting with someone recently, and somehow the conversation turned to this question: what are the things at which you are particularly skilled. Do you have any special talents, she asked me.

We are always hardest on ourselves, aren’t we? At least that is true of me. Because, try as I might, I wasn’t really able to think of a particular skill at which I excelled. Still, I’ve made it to 69 years old. I had a pretty decent job. I am happily married. I have a son who is not only NOT an ax murderer, but is a successful husband and father, and an excellent and hard worker. My grandkids seem to be fond of me.

Still, those aren’t skills.

I can’t juggle. I’m unable to perform magic tricks. I’ve never driven NASCAR. I can’t play tennis, golf, or even pickle ball.

And then it hit me. I remembered a fairly unique skill that I at least used to have.

I have always preferred being barefoot. My grandmother would have attested to that based on me removing my shoes and forgetting them when she walked me down to the dime store to buy me a toy when I was 5 years old. We were all the way back home before she realized that I was no longer wearing my Keds.

To this day, the first thing I do when I get home is take off my shoes. I’ve even gotten to the point where I do the same thing when we are in AZ despite the danger of stepping on a scorpion. That, of course, is only because as long as I’ve enjoyed AZ — both visiting and owning a house — I’ve only seen one scorpion. That’s few enough to make me lax.

As a child, I think my mother made me wear flip flops in the summer when I was playing outside. But winter or summer, when I was in the house, I was barefootin’.

What does this have to do with a potential unique skill? Simple. I was able to pick up a can of soup (or a can of anything) using my toes. Seriously, it was quite impressive. I was able to curl my toes around the edge of a can of anything and lift it up onto a counter.

Admitting this so-called skill begs two questions: 1) How did I learn that I had this particular ability; and 2) Did this skill improve my — or anyone else’s — life?

The answer, of course, is no. Now, you have heard about people who have lost — never had — use of their arms, and have the ability to use their feet in ways very similar to hands. They can type. They can drive. They can cook. They probably can pick up cans from the floor using only their toes.

My ability to pick up cans in this manner did absolutely nothing to make my life easier, besides not having to bend over to pick up a can of Campbell’s tomato soup should it drop on the ground. But none of my siblings could do this, and that made it unique only to me.

I have no idea if I would still be able to pick up a can using my toes, and I have no interest in trying. If I had to guess, I would think that my skill was enhanced by the fact that my feet were those of a child. My toes are much larger than they were when I was 10. Nevertheless, I prefer to think that I still have this skill, and hope it comes in handy at some point in the rest of my life.