It was one of those classic San Francisco mornings. In other words, I was hungover and there were homeless men sleeping outside my 6-floor building downtown. I liked where I lived. It was “different.” Moreover, it was my first studio apartment and when I lifted my murphy bed back into the wall, I could dance in my underwear by myself or with a special friend, depending on the day of the week. I had left suburbia and entered a city where I could sort of see my entire future unfolding. The homeless people didn’t bother me. Quite the opposite. They made me feel like I had made it! Eureka! You see, I had always dreamed of being far away from home and smack-dot in the middle of some metropolitan paradise. Any city with buildings high enough for me to crane my neck would do. So I chose San Francisco and San Francisco State University chose me.
On this particular San Francisco morning, I had class scheduled for 10am. In order to get to campus, I had to walk 10 blocks and take the subway for about 36 1/2 minutes. Clearly, closeness to bums took priority over proximity to school. Given the choice between convenience and euphoria, I tend to choose the latter. Perhaps if I had truly cared about going to Finance 300 that day, the following incident would not have occurred.
I turned right on Powell Street, shuffling my feet down one of the most touristy spots in the city. As I was in no rush to school, I decided to walk into Walgreen’s across from Union Square to get a water bottle.
“Excuse me,” a man tapped on my shoulder. “I think a beetle or something crawled into your boot.”
Without an once of hesitation to consider the shame involved with making a public scene, I threw both of my boots off while making noises that sounded like “shit!” “eek” “ahhh!” in the entryway of a high-traffic Walgreen’s. I did not see a bug. Not in my shoe. Not crawling towards the Crest White Strips. Nonetheless, I was too relieved and embarrassed to berate the guy who scared the shit out of me before my second cup of coffee. The accident cost me a few minutes so I skipped the water bottle purchase and hustled outta there with a newfound sense of purpose. There’s nothing like a minor beetle incident to motivate you to get to class.
The man followed me out of the store which is not unusual in an overpopulated city. I decided not to hold a grudge against him for fake-seeing a beetle, so we chatted casually until about halfway down Powell Street. At this time, he chose to make his real intentions clear.
Dude AKA potential serial killer: “Hey, so, I’m doing a project for school at UC Davis and, um, can I look at your feet?”
Me AKA innocent girl in a new city: “Ha, nah. I’m going to be late for class.” (And that would be WEIRD.)
Dude: “Well, it’ll only be a couple minutes.”
Me: “You just want to look at…my feet?”
Dude. “I’ll give you $200.”
Me: “Okay! Wait…what?”
His eyes: “Just go with it”
We entered a hotel across from Union Square. We sat down on two oversized chairs with only a small coffee table between us. I started stripping from the ankle down while he salivated at the “research” he was about to obtain for his “student project.” After I peeled off my mismatched socks, slowly, I leaned back and put my right foot up for him to see. He asked me a couple preliminary questions: “How do you walk?” With swagger, sir. “Are you a dancer?” Not today. Then he touched the inside of my foot and probably jizzed in his pants like a real-life Digital Short. I was finished as well and said, “Alright, that’s about all the time I have.” He looked a little hurt that I didn’t want to play footsie with his naked fingers for another five minutes. Nonetheless, he put 10 twenty-dollar bills in my poor, college-student hands. I thanked him and walked out of The Hotel Union Square as if I didn’t just commit prostitution of the lower extremity.
My family always told me that I have my Grandma’s feet.