I can’t be the only one who suffers from this.
How many times have you been in a conversation with someone and you’re totally fixated on a huge mole, or a piece of food in their teeth or a big zit that looks like a school volcano project?
There’s no way you can concentrate on what they’re talking about. They’re going on and on about their vacation in the Mediterranean, and all that’s running through your head is ‘That thing’s gonna blow!‘…
I’m gonna assume you’re all yelling, ‘Yes! I do that all the time’. At least, I hope you are – that way I won’t feel like the only oaf in the world.
It’s one thing to giggle like school children when someone has toilet paper stuck to their shoe at a swanky event, but what if it’s not toilet paper, but something a little more….permanent?
You’ll probably still stare and be transfixed, but it’s a lot different than a zit or food in their teeth when it’s something they have no control over. You try your hardest not to look, and act all casual and cool, but deep down, it’s all you can think about.
“OMG – does that guy really have no ears?” I need to look, but I don’t want to get caught looking.
Case in point: I was waiting (appropriately enough) in a waiting room recently. It was very narrow, with two rows of chairs facing each other. Only enough room between them for one person to walk through.
I sat down across from a lady who was deeply focused on whatever was happening on her cell phone. She was wearing sandals and had her legs crossed so that one foot jutted out into the narrow walkway. No problem – although with me doing the same directly across from her, the magical and invisible ‘personal space’ zone was seriously violated.
That’s when I saw it. Open-toed, strappy sandals, horrible yellow, chipped and cracked nails…and 9 toes. 9 little piggies staring at me without nail polish or any reasonable pedicurial effort. 9 of them….no big toe on one foot.
Maybe she had a terrible lawn mower accident, or lost it in a bet or something; I don’t know, but all my self-control and strength could not keep me from looking down at her foot regularly. I tried my best to focus on the artwork behind her, but the draw was too strong. This 4 digit foot was my Kryptonite.
Trying to focus on the artwork behind her was like staring at the sun too long. My pupils burned, my hands shook and a bead of sweat appeared on my forehead. No painting is that interesting.
Like a reflex action, my eyes would dart down and I prayed I wouldn’t get caught staring at this small but distinctive abnormality.
Then I got to thinking; Why would she wear an open-toed shoe and dangle it right in front of me unless she was either proud of it, was was trying to evoke some sort of reaction? Why should I be the one to be all ‘avert your eyes’ and embarrassed? Is she deliberately taunting me?
I wished I was a little kid – they can get away with anything; “Hey lady, what happened to your toe? Does it hurt? Can I touch it?”. No fear, no inhibitions, just pure innocent curiosity.
I remember knowing a guy who was born with only one arm. It didn’t stop him from doing anything. One day though, at a local store, a little girl looked up at him and asked point blank; ‘Where is your arm?‘. I think he told her it was at home doing the dishes. ‘Oh‘ was all she replied and went along with what she was doing.
You and I would never get away with that! I think I might even get blackballed for sharing this personal limitation, but it’s what we all think – right?
I’m no worse than the next guy. I can sympathize with those who aren’t made the same way I am, or have had some tragedy befall them so that their look is altered in some way.
It doesn’t mean they are any different inside, does it? I can embrace the person and see beyond that nasty, yellow, crooked 4-toed foot.
Okay, maybe I still have a bit of work to do…