My Right Foot, pen and ink drawing © 2007 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.
A few years back I found myself in San Jose, Costa Rica, in early June with my friend and colleague Gail. We decided to celebrate our birthdays our last evening there — we’re both Geminis — by getting full-body massages before dinner.
That day our Costa Rican hosts took us sightseeing. We hiked a muddy trail to a hidden lake, went to a butterfly preserve, and visited a coffee plantation. We ate lunch at a roadside restaurant overlooking a forest canopy, monkeys crying in the distance. We ended the day with another hike, to the rim of a volcano.
Our hosts dropped us off at the hotel five minutes before our scheduled massages. We ran to our rooms, threw down our bags, ran to the outdoor cabana where the massage therapists waited.
We were in separate yet adjacent rooms. I got the male massage therapist; Gail got the female. My massage was not as strong — the masseuse’s touch not as hard — as I normally liked, but it was relaxing given the excitement of the day. Mostly it ended sooner than I expected.
I dressed quickly then waited for Gail in the quiet reception area. The place smelled of pine. We were the last clients of the night.
Gail didn’t emerge, and I waited. Ten minutes passed, then fifteen. I wondered what was taking so long.
Finally, Gail floated into the semi-darkness, therapist trailing. She rustled through her purse, pulled out a $20 bill and handed it to the woman, all the time effusively praising the massage. We headed slowly in the direction of the patio restaurant.
Gail talked in dreamy tones about what an excellent massage she had. She asked me about mine. I told her it was fine but nothing like hers, from the sound of it.
We found a table, sat, ordered fruity drinks. Gail’s was called “Sex on the Beach.” We laughed when she asked the waiter for it. I had a mojito.
I told Gail I didn’t understand why my massage ended before hers being as we started at the same time. I told her my therapist seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time washing his hands and arms when he was done.
At that moment, I kicked off my sandal and crossed my right calf over my left thigh. I crossed with knees apart, the way men do. Gail and I both looked down at my bare foot. The mud I’d picked up from a day of walking had ground into my sole. It was black, black.
We burst into laughter. We could hardly breathe, we laughed so hard. No wonder my massage therapist was in a hurry to get rid of me. My other foot was just as bad.
Feet are one of the most sensitive parts of the body. Each foot holds over 7,000 nerves, and my feet, especially, hold the weight of my demanding days. When I travel I often indulge in a massage — sometimes just a foot massage. But ever since that Costa Rica experience, I always make sure to wash my feet first.