I love feet. Along with the remarkable curve of the lumbar spine, the human foot is the marriage of architecture and evolution, raising us above the grass of the savannah, storing the kinetic gift of our vertical posture in the rebound of its arch.

There are detractors. William Peter Blatty, better known for The Exorcist, once penned a regrettably neglected novel about military misfits becalmed in a psychiatric facility; I gather the eventual film underwhelmed audiences, but the book left an impression on me. Manfred Cutshaw, the astronaut who aborted his mission at the last moment, complains:

“… frankly, I hate feet.”
“The way they smell?”
“The way they look. Hud, I cannot stand the sight of them!”
“Does that include your own?”
Especially my own! How could a wise and beautiful God give us ugly things like feet! Give us padding things like feet! They’re a disgrace! An anomaly! A disaster area, Hud! If God exists, he is a fink!”
“A fink.”
“Or a foot. Yes, a foot. An omniscient, omnipotent Foot! Do you think that is blasphemous?”
“Yes,” said Kane. “I do.”

But poor Kane, like Blatty himself so far as one can tell, is an aspirant to the impossible ideals of Catholic theology. Feet are pretty divine, all things considered. The Earth is a big blue God hurtling in the Galaxy, a God (or Goddess) which we neglect at our peril, and our feet hold us to it.

Cutshaw eventually drifts into the habit of referring to the Supreme Being as “Foot.” At the end, Blatty sends his astronaut hurtling to the stars once more, because, you know, leaving Earth = Heaven = closer to Catholic God.

To each his own. Me, I like Foot.


7 thoughts on “Feet

    • “Killer Kane” is actually far and away a better book than the pandering, corny “Exorcist.” It’s still riddled with a credulous notion that Catholicism has all the answers in the end, or at least it whiffs that way to me, but it’s a much more nuanced grapple with the problem of evil, and with the task of living out your life with a mostly broken heart, which seems to be the condition common to most of the important characters. And it’s blackly funny, where “Exorcist” is all humorless adolescent earnestness. “There is foot powder in Heaven for those who repent!”

  1. I like feet. Well, I like my own! Nice straight, long, grasping toes, good high arch, thick pads I can put out cigarettes with and feel no pain and cause no damage. I’d rather lose a hand, I think, than a foot.

    • You scare me with that putting out cigarettes thing…

      I used to work at having prehensile feet. I still occasionally employ one foot as a third hand at work, bracing a body part through the sheet when I’m doing a resisted stretch or some such.

      • Everyone should have a superpower. I promise only to use it for good. Unless I can use it to take out someone who deserves it.

        Hubby is in awe of my monkey toes. I’m glad I have them, they save me having to bend over quite often. And since we have latch-style doors here instead of knobs, I never have to put anything down to enter a closed room.

  2. My idea of a perfect death is being stomped a la the opening titles of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, so the whole conflation of deity and metatarsals makes sense to me.

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