World without Toes


I’ve been thinking about toes lately (not in a fetishy sort of way). I normally overlook my sweet little toes except when I have a problem with one of them or I need to clip renegade nails. Those little guys and gals at the end of my feet typically don’t play a role in my day to day musings.

Here’s a pitch for a horror movie. (Just in time for Halloween)

One morning everyone all over the world wakes up to find all their toes fell off during the night. (Don’t ask how it happened I haven’t worked it out yet) Detached toes lie in clumps at the bottom of our beds.

Suddenly the able-bodied human bi-peds who always took for granted their mobility, cannot walk, cannot stand. See without our toes we’re toast. We can’t walk or even stand up on our own. In an ironic twist, many people with physical disabilities will suddenly be more able bodied than those of us who have strolled freely.

Those little guys and gals at the end of our feet play a critical role in most of our lives. The power of the toes.

So then I got thinking about other little guys and gals in our midst, the young people in the world.

The English mystery novelist PD James steered away from her usual genre when she wrote The Children of Men, a science fiction story in which James created a world where 20 years prior, humans lose the ability to reproduce. As the novel opens, the youngest people in the world are 20 years old. Playgrounds and schools lie in decay and humanity suffers hopelessness and anarchy.

Reminds me of some churches and Quaker meeting houses. Okay, not so dire, but how lifeless a meeting for worship feels when no children and teens attend. These little guys and gals give life to the meeting, even when they meet in another room nearby doing their own activities.

As a gay single man without children, like a dried up tortoise, I could creep into meeting for worship and hole myself up in a corner. Then I could get all grumpy when a child interrupts the sacred silence of our gathering. And then I could feel bitterness and self-pity because I don’t have children of my own in my life to shush or rock or adore.

Somehow I don’t feel these things. Somehow I smile and feel warm inside when I see those little guys and gals wriggling all around me.

This post has 7 Comments

  1. Jennifer on October 31, 2005 at 3:23 am Reply

    Maybe also an idea for the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos, which is similar to aspects of Halloween. Just thinking about something for cultural diversity.

  2. Anvilcloud on October 31, 2005 at 4:45 am Reply

    I read that book. I try to forgive her for it. Bring on Dalgliesh. Actually, although I much like British mysteries, PD is not my fave.

  3. Peterson Toscano on October 31, 2005 at 1:32 pm Reply

    anvilcloud,
    yes, not her best novel. It falls apart by the end and lies in strands strewn about, but PD James, in regards to use of language, is one of the best living authors. But yeah, bring on Daglish.

  4. Tina on October 31, 2005 at 6:18 pm Reply

    You are far from a dried-up tortoise, though I quite like them. Nice picture.

  5. Willie Hewes on October 31, 2005 at 7:01 pm Reply

    That sounds like a really surreal horror movie. It’d work if you get the Japanese to make it.

    Hope you’re keeping well, I’m sick. Bleeech…

  6. Peterson Toscano on October 31, 2005 at 7:37 pm Reply

    Tina, glad you like the photo. I took it at the Bristol Zoo when I visited Willie (sorry you are feeling ill, Willie 🙁

    Speaking of Bristol…I just learned about the amazing Quaker woman
    Elizabeth Fry who began her prison reform work at Newgate prison in Bristol back in 1817.

    Speaking of horror stories, have you ever heard the original Cinderella story? It gets gory. After Cinderella makes her appearance at the prince’s ball, the prince, armed with Cindy’s slipper, searches for his runaway perspective bride.

    When he appears at Cindy’s house, the eldest sister is so desperate to advance in life and conform to the beauty standard required for success, she, well, cuts off her big toe.

    The eldest went with the shoe into her room and wanted to try it on, and her mother stood by. But she could not get her big toe into it, and the shoe was too small for her. Then her mother gave her a knife and said, “Cut the toe off, when you are queen you will have no more need to go on foot.” The maiden cut the toe off, forced the foot into the shoe, swallowed the pain, and went out to the king’s son. Then he took her on his his horse as his bride and rode away with her.

    Oh, in the original Cinderella wanted nothing to do with marrying a prince and hid out for days trying to evade him.

    read the whole story here if ye dare…

    Without changing the details, poet Anne Sexton weaves subversive messages that echo the original in her poem Cinderella

  7. Christine on October 31, 2005 at 8:06 pm Reply

    Very cool, Peterson.

    From the Anne Sexton poem…

    That is the way with amputations.
    They just don’t heal up like a wish.

    A lot in that poem, isn’t there.

    I was amazed when I started reading the original versions of fairy tales…many are truly gorey, but the lessons often seem more profound (to me, anyhow).

    Have you ever read anything by Clarissa Pinkola Estes?

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