There’s a little red dot on my left foot, right there below my big toe. It’s not very big. The dot, that is. My husband says I have a big big toe, but what does he know? I told him that was a sign of intelligence, but I don’t think he bought it. Probably because I just made that up. It sounded good.
I realized the little red dot was there a week or so ago when I kicked my shoe off one afternoon. “Darn it,” I said to myself. “It’s still there,” and I poked at it to see if it still hurt. It didn’t. It’s a scar now. A reminder — a red, glaring reminder — of a time not so very long ago when I was … how should I say it? … wrong.
Ouch. That hurt.
I am about to admit something that is rather difficult for me. I thought long and hard before deciding that I could actually get the words out without choking. And only because I wanted to give my husband something extra special for his birthday — something I have never given him before. I am going to admit that I may be … I could possibly be … OK, I am …
There, I said it. I am stubborn. Call it hardheaded. Call it strong-willed. Call it headstrong, if you must. Whichever synonym you look up, there is the slightest possibility you might find my picture beside it in the dictionary. Not always. Just sometimes.
And I have that darned little red dot to remind me.
“Are you sure you want to wear those?”
My husband looked across the hotel room and watched as I zipped up first one boot, then the other over my jeans. Black boots with a little buckle on the side. Very warm. More importantly, very cute.
“Don’t you think you should wear tennis shoes?”
I’m sure I glared maybe just a little before telling him that, no, I did not want to wear tennis shoes. I wanted to wear my boots.
“You do realize we will be walking a lot,” he said. “A lot.” He emphasized “lot.”
“I know,” I told him. “These are very comfortable. I’ll be fine. I know what I’m talking about.”
Our 16-year-old daughter jumped to my defense. “She knows what she wants to wear, Dad,” she said.
“OK,” he said, shaking his head. “Do what you want to.”
Three hours later. A walk to the Metro. Two Smithsonian museums. A stroll around the Washington Monument.
“Let’s sit here on this bench and just enjoy the beautiful scenery,” I suggested between gritted teeth. Never mind we were in the midst of a construction zone, yellow tape and orange cones around us. I had to sit down.
“What? Do your feet hurt?” he asked.
What was that? An “I told you so” tone to his voice?
As God as my witness, my feet could have been bloody nubs in my boots and I would not have told him.
I straightened up. “I am great,” I said. “Let’s keep walking.”
And so we walked. And we walked. And we walked. When he wasn’t looking, I hobbled.
When he stopped to read a WWII display, I crouched beside a photo of Winston Churchill and prayed that my feet didn’t go numb. We saw the Air and Space Museum, I think. I was in too much pain to enjoy it. I fantasized about crawling into the Apollo 11 Command Module, just so I could sit down.
But I kept on smiling. With Churchill as my witness, I smiled.
“What’s that?” he asked that night as I sat on the bed in the hotel room and pulled a Band-Aid across my left foot, right below my big toe. Underneath was a nasty, throbbing, red, gross blister.
“Nothing,” I said. “I hit my foot on the bed.”
I don’t think he bought it. Probably because I just made that up. There was no way I was going to admit that he had been right. No way.
Because I wanted to give him something extra special for his birthday. I will admit, just this once, that there’s a chance that I quite possibly may be stubborn. Maybe.
And he was right. Just that once.
There. I said it. Ouch.
Next year, he’s getting a card.
Email columnist Mandy Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.