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A Cautionary Tale Told in Feet

(Photo: Nothing a lake or so of Tinactin won’t clear right up…)

So I took a break from the sturm and total drag of my job search to take in Monday’s Broadway in Chicago concert in Grant Park with Potential Mr. New Guy. Regular readers will ken there’s always a Potential Mr. New Guy. Actually getting to Mr. Steady Guy lately seems an unspeakably tough task–but I digress back to the bottom of things more important to the purposes of this post. Specifically, the unspeakably tough tootsies of a certain surprise guest who shared our lawn sheet with PMNG and me.

I blame Foursquare. Less than a week with the social-checkin game on my Android phone and I’ve already achieved my Oversharing badge. No surprise there. PMNG plays too, and telling the world exactly where we were at that exact moment is exactly how Dermaphrodite Man and boyfriend found us.

“Ooh, I know them. Hi! Over here!” As soon as those words left PMNG’s lips I knew our romantic musical evening was in trouble. Of course, I was the idiot who uttered, “Let’s spread the sheet out wider,” prompting the two third wheels to plop down behind us. No matter where blame should properly be placed, though, there’s was little warning for what was to follow from the friends PMNG hadn’t seen in years.

“Can you put my shoes over there?” Dermaphrodite Man asked his boyfriend. I thought nothing of the request. After all, PMNG and I were already down to our socks. Then I turned around. I did my best to stop the blast-regurgitating Snickerdoodle at my uvula when I saw what laid directly behind me: naked, leathery, cracked, green-toed, life-threatening, Godzilla-riffic, size-12 athlete’s feet.

On my sheet. Next to my sneakers. As near as I can remember, faintly growling. I did my best to draw PMNG’s attention to the terrifyingly toenailed sight, but he was already riffing on our evening’s emcee, ABC 7’s ever-flubbable Janet Davies (and really, who wouldn’t.) So I did the next best thing I could. I texted him.

“Your friend has athlete’s foot. It’s really contagious. I don’t want to tell him but he needs to put his shoes back on.”

I was relieved several minutes later when PMNG’s AT&T-challenged  iPhone finally deigned to vibrate with my message. I watched his eyes ever-so-discreetly scan from screen to feet and back. He shot me the sweetest, “OMG I’m so sorry,” look I’ve ever seen as I waited for him to text me back with our escape plan.

While I waited, the Barbecue Pringles started trying to come up, too, as Dermaphrodite Man started to pick his feet. In earnest. Like he was panning for gold in his elephantine epidermis. I leaned towards PMNG and cupped my hand in a pretend whisper while I demurely pushed the seedless grapes forward with my elbow for all I was worth. Finally, PMNG started typing on his handset. And then–

“Oh crap, my iPhone died.”

At that moment, so did my hopes. With no further method of non-obvious communication, we were forced to ignore the situation and sit through the dreck of Shrek and the agony of Rock of Ages for two hours. Every so often, I’d feel a gentle poke on my buttocks, pee a little in fright, and inch further towards the front of the sheet. But there’s only so far you can go before you’re sitting on wet grass and goose poo.

I tried to concentrate on Wicked’s Wicked and I. I stared blankly forward in my best Burmese meditation pose and intently listened into Hair’s Easy to Be Hard. But all I could think of was the potential for wickedly hard hairy pieces of athletes toejam going flying into my food with every single pick, pick, pick.

I prayed for rain. I texted PMNG’s BFF and begged her to come save us. I used my Android phone as a notepad and passed my handset with the following message on it across the grape gap:

“I’ll get you for this.”

When the concert finally ended, I popped up off the sheet so fast I pulled a muscle. We bid a quick good-bye to Dermaphrodite Man and boyfriend, and PMNG carefully folded up the sheet and sealed it in a plastic bag. Then we headed to Boystown where we ended the evening drinking with the PMNGBFF (did you get all that?) and telling our tale of toenail woe to anyone who would listen.

PMNGG offered a stream of apologies throughout the evening, but none were needed. I know my own capacity for inadvertent mischief all too well. I’m sure that soon enough the shoe will be on the other foot.

Where, God willing, it will stay.

Categories: LIFE Parks & Gardens Stage and Screen

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Mike Doyle

I’m an #OpenlyAutistic gay, Hispanic, urbanist, Disney World fan, New York native, politically independent, Jewish blogger in Chicago. I believe in social justice, big cities, and public transit. I write words and raise money for nonprofits. I’ve written this blog since 2005. And counting...

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7 replies

  1. Ugh.

    This was one of the many things I do not miss about the Chicago Outdoor Film Festival being cancelled. I believe I went to a movie where the dirty feet of some hippies on a neighboring blanket were just within millimeters of the sheet I had lain out. It was awful.

  2. Doyle, you are dead meat! Pieces like this require a front-end disclaimer for those of us who catch up on these things while eating dinner!

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