Caussey's Corner

Caussey’s Corner: A Texan’s Life with a Cattywampus Toe

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The night is bitterly cold. The wind howls, circling the rooftops, sending forth pale ghost riders that descend the chimney, anchoring themselves to the bright red brick wood.

My bath water is Jacuzzi hot. Large puffs of bubbles cover the surface like white cream in a pail of fresh milk.

Sinking down into the liquid ecstasy, my head rests on the back of the tub. My old body absorbs the richness of the experience, as veiled mist rises skyward above the room like the perilous clouds of Vesuvius.

Unceremoniously, the big toe on my left foot rises above the blanco fluffs, followed shortly by the three brother toes. Then the little toe peeks, with hesitation, above the watery plain. But it is positioned horizontally to the other four. The little toe breaks the surface, bent haphazardly to the left, reminiscent in form to the claw of some prehistoric bird.

Now you know my secret. I have a “cattywampus” toe. With great pride, I freely admit my malady and make no apologies for this precarious affliction.

Caussey's Corner: A Texan's Life with a Cattywampus Toe

Photo: @Mel76 via Twenty20

But the present knowledge of my good fortune was not always so joyfully accepted. Most of my life, I was ashamed of this distortion.

Each time I hit the toe on a chair, bar stool, sofa leg, or coffee table, the humiliation was unbearable, not to mention the pain. The toe appeared like a great vacuum, gobbling up furniture, toys, tools and people to bang up against. With each incident, the toe became more “cattywampus.” Plus, the toe became a target of ridicule by emergency room physicians and swimming buddies.

When at the beach, other boys laughed and kicked sand in my face.

Fortunately, there weren’t many beaches in West Texas.

So I spent the first years of my life wearing a sock on my left foot. My sock was kept on my left foot at all times, except during a solar eclipse, when spelunking, or during involved bouts of passion.

Like the cowboys of old, with their boots, I fully intended to die and be buried with my socks on.

Caussey's Corner: A Texan's Life with a Cattywampus Toe

Photo: @mhendi28 via Twenty20

What changed my shame to an inspiration of pride occurred in July of 1980. I was a recently promoted major in the army and had been posted to Fort Belvoir in Washington, DC, to teach Command General Staff classes at the War College.

After my classes were taught, I would leisurely spend hours touring the nation’s capitol. I visited all the monuments and historical points of interest.

It was while touring the Smithsonian that I had my grand experience. Having just visited a display of early American weaponry, I took up a restful position on a bench next to one of a score of statues that crowded a wide corridor. As I glanced around the great hall, my eyes came to rest on this one particular statue. Frankly, I don’t remember much about the statue, but I did take note of the pedestal on which the statue stood.

As my eyes left the statue’s face and journeyed down this magnificent edifice, they came to rest on the feet.

Roman sandals covered the statue’s feet with the toes clearly visible. Then I saw it, attached to the left foot. It had to be the most awful, ugly little toe I had ever seen. It was crooked, long, and looked more like a mutant growth than a toe. Compared to this creation my cattywampus toe looked wonderful. Yet, there it was for the world to see, enshrined in the Smithsonian as a final resting place. Even with that ugly toe, the individual had been immortalized in a statue of tribute.

Caussey's Corner: A Texan's Life with a Cattywampus Toe

Photo: @unrealsun via Twenty20

Well, if that toe was good enough to be bronzed perpetually, then my toe must be okay. Since then I have been very proud of my “cattywampused” toe. My sock worn in embarrassment has long ago been discarded. Although located some distance from the others, my little toe is still treated with the same dignity and respect as the others.

Actually my cattywampus toe carries some benefits. In conclusion, I’ll list just four of these benefits. After you see them, I know you too will recognize how fortunate I am.

How my cattywampus toe is a benefit:

  1. It is a wonderful conversation piece when out on a date for the first time.
  2. I now have the ability to lie on my back and still watch TV through my toes.
  3. Should I feel threatened I can always use my foot as a sling-shot to hurl rocks at the perpetrator.
  4. Could be used as an excellent technique to get the attention of the waiter when entertaining visiting relatives.

Durhl Caussey is a syndicated columnist writing for papers across America. He can be reached at this newspaper or [email protected].