Mrs A raised her foot and its imprint in the blue foam was unveiled. Embarrassed, she looked up at the doctor from her chair. Did he consider calling the orthopedist emergency number? She couldn’t tell.
She had always known that she was flat-footed, but she wasn’t prepared for the sight that met her. The imprint of her foot was terrible; a giant, triangular shape, the signature of the Abominable Snowman.
-I’m a gorilla! she thought with a shudder. -I don’t need a doctor, I need a veterinarian!
But the orthopedist wasn’t at all shocked. He must have seen his share of primates during his twenty years as a doctor of flat feet.
When Mrs A was the tween Miss A, her feet had expanded enormously in all directions and as she was a slow vertical grower, she had looked like a giant L for a couple of years. She reached her final height and things went better. But – her feet weren’t smaller, and one day during a holiday in Paris a Frenchman had talked to her in the metro; and what she had first taken as a compliment, wasn’t: He was upset by the size of her feet. He hadn’t seen anything like it before, except in the zoo maybe.
Today, the 8th of December, was her birthday. There was ranting all over the internet, in the newspapers and on the radio: A footballer’s celebrity wife had posted a bikini picture of herself some days after having a baby. Her pregnancy and delivery didn’t show at all on her featherweight body. She was outrageously thin and there was absolutely no sign anywhere of the obligatory mess that was found in the homes of newborn babies. The picture did admittedly point at one perceivable change in the footballer’s wife’s life: Her bust was more prominent than before and seemed to burst out of her designer bra.
The bikini selfie didn’t pass unnoticed.
Hordes of angry females filled their catapults with the traditional Christmas rice porridge, ready to shoot. Legions of women sharpened their lady shavers and lined up neatly in the snow-laden streets, ready to march to the battle field.
They sang the hymns of revenge as they moved, their drums of war resounding between the buildings, and the footballer’s wife moved on too, as she was invited to a very famous tv-show to speak about the hate that surrounded her. It was great; she got a lot of publicity and took care to post some pictures of her baby instead of her well-tended self.
She expressed some regrets about posting the selfie though, and the debate was reignited: What was her real reason for posting such a picture? She was mean, she was evil, stupid and manipulative.
-Women should be proud of their bodies, journalists and bloggers cried.
-That was why I posted the picture!, the footballer’s wife said. -I am proud!
A brief silence followed.
It was difficult to get away with purporting that all women except the footballer’s wife should be proud of themselves. The debate swang from one extreme to the other, and finally it calmed down:
Thin or thick, tall or small, celebrity or not: Women should be proud of their gorilla feet.
Mrs A had a hard time with it. The thing was, she didn’t care. But she should. After all, it was the only thing everybody agreed on. She was indifferent and she was alone with it.
-I am not only a gorilla, I am a single one! she thought.
She was making coffee when she saw Mr Nemesis. He was out shovelling snow. He was a handsome man and she thought he must be terribly proud of his gorgeous family and his beautiful home.
The Nemesises were of course the family of reference in the neighbourhood. There wasn’t a woman that wouldn’t scrutinize Mrs Nemesis’ hairdo and not a man that didn’t check out Mr Nemesis’ car and compare it with his own. And sometimes a woman would compare her husband with Mr Nemesis and it happened that a man would make eyes at the statuesque Mrs Nemesis. That was how it was.
A long time ago, Mrs Lookalike’s brother had fallen for Mrs Nemesis. It was a scandal since he was married. She was only engaged at the time, had no interest in him – and so he wanted to finish it all.
He went to the local hardware store and got a hook and a rope. He screwed the hook into the ceiling of his living room and attached the rope. Then he hanged himself.
But it turned out he wasn’t a handyman and had used the wrong screws for plaster ceilings. He fell down and the hook hit him hard. Everyone with a head on his shoulders knows you can’t count on plaster when you want to finish it all, but not Mrs Lookalike’s brother.
He went back to the store and got the good screws.
Now maybe it was destiny or maybe it was God. On his way home, he heard on the radio that his favourite football team had done surprisingly well and that they even might win the cup.
He kept thinking about that when fixing the good screws and when finished he hung the advent star his wife had bought a week ago in the hook, then he left his home and never came back.
He didn’t kill himself. He watched the cup instead. She knew all this because he had confided in Mrs Lookalike and told her the whole story about how football saved his life. The cup turned out to be the cup of the century and he just couldn’t finish it all. «I might be suicidal», he had said to his sister, «but I am not stupid». And his favourite team won and it was great.
She took her coffee cup into the living room and opened one of the books she had gotten for her birthday. It was a book as beautiful as it was useful. On the cover there was a picture of a silver angel and the title read: «Mastering the Fine Art of Santa Lucia, Volume One.»