There is a stubborn sore on my earlobe, which I am able to diagnosis, via Google Images, as skin cancer. The nine year old dermatologist states however that it's just a stubborn infection and he prescribes two strong ointments. By the time the medication is available for pick up from our insurance-provider-approved pharmacy, my ear is nearly healed. However, while I have access to a bonafide, albeit elementary school age, board certified dermatologist, I ask him about cosmetic dermatological procedures and how I could get the most bang for my buck. “You really should wait a few years before you consider having any work done,” is the right answer. Unfortunately I am advised instead that it is Juvederm, Botox and chemical peels, in that order and at the price of a decent used car.
I travel with my friend to Lucky Feet, a shoe store in Rancho Cucamonga managed by a podiatrist and catering to troubled tootsies. Jack Benny had a running gag about Cucamonga on his radio, and then later television, show. The squat beige stucco town likely wasn’t filled out until the sixties and we are tickled to discover one street named Rochester (after Benny’s sidekick) and another, Jack Benny Drive. I am probably one of the youngest people on the planet which this would be meaningful to.
My fiscally conservative mother spent hours cutting out and sorting coupons but she advised me never to scrimp on food or shoes. Alas, I thought the other admonition of hers I’d followed, to stay out of the sun, had paid off but the dermatologist was more than happy to suggest prescriptives. This isn’t my first visit to the old lady shoe store. We make a side trip there a few months ago after touring the nearby Maloof House and Museum. My feet are measured by hand and on a Jetsons type machine. The saleslady suggests a pair of shoes from Israel and assures that they are comfortable on a long walk but also suitable to wear to a restaurant. At a price that should get me across the Sinai.
The weather is so warm that I don't have the opportunity to check out the Israeli shoes but, as we are leaving on a trip which will involve a great deal of walking, I test them out a few times on my morning walk. I try them with thin socks. Thick socks. Orthotics. They are miserable. I call the store, and even though the purchase was over five months ago I am invited to bring the shoes back to be checked out. It turns out I’ve been given the wrong size and I try on about a dozen pairs of other shoes to select some that are comfortable and not too orthopedic looking.
The young podiatrist says that some of her friends find it gross that she handles feet all day. She is glad that we take an interest in her profession. We learn that arch supports and orthotics are basically the same thing and that my big toes are exceptionally short. When I was a kid, foot docs were called “chiropodists.” I’m not sure why “podiatrist” is more sexy. I note how tragic it is that most podiatric treatment is not covered by health insurance although foot trouble can be extremely debilitating. About two hours pass at the Lucky Shoe Store and my friend and I bone up on the wide world of feet and both nab a pair of walking shoes that aren’t too old ladyish.
Joe Workforce turns 23 in a few days. I try hard to remember myself at that age and remain patient when he says something inane. I can’t recall what I wanted when in my early twenties or what I expected my life would be like thirty years down the pike. I know I didn’t worry about skin cancer and sore feet or that visits with a dermatologist or podiatrist would be so fascinating. It is surreal this aging thing. Sometimes it feels like a joke or a dream I will awake from. How is it that I’m not in my twenties anymore? How is it that every day brings me closer to my last? I don’t remember the aha moment when it hit me that the odds against me increase with every breath I take. My ear lobe is completely healed. The new non-Israeli shoes are good for, if not an exodus from Egypt, at least twenty miles. Still, the list of possible bad outcomes expands the more I see what the world has the potential to dish out. I have become, like my mother, a worrywart, as aging brings my vulnerability more sharply into focus.
We gripe about a spate of bad luck, plagued by a hit and run accident, household breakage, work stresses, and a stolen computer. It seems, I whine, that we cannot get a break. There is nothing however that is fatal or physically painful or that cannot be ameliorated with an injection of time and/or money. It isn’t karma or divine retribution. Shitty things just happen. The accretion recently of little bummers makes me think that maybe the universe really does have it out for me. Annoyances, screw ups and tiny heartbreaks are ceaseless and inevitable. But still, when my mind wanders through old history the memories are mostly sweet. My world sometimes seems like it is falling apart but always somehow puts itself back together. I am astonished to think about the number of years I have habituated the planet. It is impossible not to be more guarded as one witnesses the seemingly infinite variety of tribulations one might face. Yet as I grow more acutely aware of all the shit that can, and likely will, happen, my memories of unluckiness and dumb decisions still seem to fade. In a year or ten I will likely only remember this rough patch if I happen to reread about it here. The warm and fuzzy, the sustenance I get from the ancient marriage, our spawn evolving into decent young men, the people I choose to spend my time with, is stuff I won't have to read about in old blog entries in order to remember.