Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Barefoot and Fancy Free? -- jcarolek

Barefoot, clad only in my swimsuit and with a towel flung over my shoulder, I headed up the hill with my brothers, on our way to the BB&T (Belair Bath and Tennis) where my family had a membership. The journey was not a long one, maybe half a mile or so. My brothers and I enjoyed swimming during those long hot summer days.

Either this was a particularly hot day or we were getting rather late start, but one thing was for certain. That road was HOT. My bare feet let me know in no uncertain terms that I was a FOOL to have chosen to make the trip without shoes. I suppose, I had just been too lazy to find my shoes before leaving the house. At any rate, the boys were all fine as they were wearing their sneakers.

Of course, I could not admit that I had been stupid in leaving for the pool barefoot. No, I had to make out like it was my “plan,” that, in fact, I had tough feet that did not feel the searing heat. I was tough. By half-way there, I was dreaming of the pool in a way that bordered on obscene! That water was going to feel SO good on my feet.

Finally, we got there and into the pool I plunged. Relief was immediate! I was so thankful that I had not had to admit my stupidity to my brothers, or anyone else, for that matter. All’s well that ends well, right?

Well, an interesting little fact of nature was taught to me that day by the great scorekeeper of all. For, while I was truly in heaven whilst in that water, I was quite unprepared for what I found when I crawled out. I discovered that, much to my dismay, crawling was the ONLY thing I could do, once out of the water. My feet had been severely burned by the hot black tarmac, and when plunged into the cool water of the pool, the blisters had immediately swollen up to resemble balloons. They were filled with fluid and impossible to walk on. They covered every bit of the soles of my feet.

And so it was that, while I had just a few minutes earlier, been so happy that I had not had to admit my stupidity, I was now faced with having to do just that. I asked my brother if I could borrow his sneakers, thinking that, perhaps, with the shoes on, I would be able to walk. But that did not work either.

The journey home from the BB&T was equally painful, but in a very different way. We took the “short cut” which meant we avoided the road and went over the Mansion Hill through the yards of the Mansion and the other homeowners. I crawled. My brothers crowed. Well, they thought I looked funny, at 15 years old or so, crawling home…I guess they were right.

Once home I had to endure the “experimental remedies” dished out by my brothers and eventually my mother. I was miserable for more than a week. No pool, no walking anywhere….great summer fun!

I’d like to say I learned my lesson that day about walking on hot tarmac. I did. However, I was not bright enough to extrapolate the experience and avoid doing almost the same stunt in Tallahassee, FL a few years later. This time it was on white cement sidewalk going from Smith Hall to the post office box in the student center. Who knew that white cement got that hot? Thankfully, there was no pool at the end of this journey and, while my feet were blistered, they were not fluid filled balloons on which I had to walk.

And now you know why I prefer to wear shoes when outside.

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