You can have the house, Margaret. You can have the apartment in the city, the other house on the boat, and the other apartment in the city. That’s right there’s another apartment in the city. It’s on Houston, right across from the Film Forum Yes, right where we had our first date. Do you remember? We saw Kramer vs. Kramer. We both agreed Meryl Streep should have ended up with the kids. I knew that night I was going to marry you. I’ll admit it. I thought we would divorce too. But not until the kids were gone. And not after I gave you my big toe.
I didn’t want to do it. You know how much I like open-toed shoes, my Tevas; the ones you said weren’t actually open-toed, because of how much of the leather covered the foot. Everyone thought I was crazy. The doctor’s didn’t even know if they could graft a big toe onto another foot. But I did it anyway. Not because I felt bad about what happened with the lawnmower. I told you the azaleas didn’t need watering. Maybe you didn’t hear me. Maybe I should have been using the Weed Whipper, like you said. Sometimes I wonder. When did we stop listening to each other?
I remember the party we had the day they took off the casts. You looked so graceful gliding around the houseboat in your polka dot Gucci’s, your toes freshly pedicured and polished in that shade of pink you used to wear on the days you signaled for lovemaking, while I hobbled between the cabin and the bathroom, belly-sick from a noxious cocktail of Dramamine, painkillers and anti-depressants. I saw Bill Ruckerson massaging your bunion. The bunion on my big toe. Bill Ruckerson? What does that man have besides an able body? He lives on the South Shore. I didn’t know it then, but that was probably when our intimacy began to cool. You always put on a good face when we footsied under the covers, but I could feel you shudder when we touched, your chilly toes betraying your heart.
I’ll admit it. It does look really good on you. Better than it ever looked next to my big Morton’s toe. The hair waxed off, the cuticle free of dirt, the nail re-irrigated with blood. The kids never liked it on me. Alec thought such a small big toe was “effeminate.” Little Rachel was simply afraid of the wart. I took Rachel to a birthday party last week. Everything was going great; I was able to crawl around after her on my hands and knees, and the Ruckerson boy ate too much cake and threw up on Bill, but then the parents organized a participatory dance, which to me seemed quite obligatory. So I did the best I could.
I put my right hand in. I put my right hand out. I put my right hand in, and I shook it all about. Then I did the same with my left hand. I did all that, knowing what was going to happen next. That I was going to be asked to put my right foot in. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t put it in. And even if I did, there was no way I was going to be able to pull it out. Little Rachel looked at me, embarrassment coloring her chubby cheeks for the first time, because her father couldn’t do the hokey pokey, because he couldn’t shake his right foot all about. And that’s what this is all about, Margaret.
I’m not Daniel Day Lewis. I can’t lead a normal life with just my left foot. I’m not Keyser Söze. I can’t make up stories about why I have a gimp, or why I’m not another person who I actually am. I can’t act like everything’s OK. Because even if we were in a lurid Japanese novel, and I grew another penis where my big toe used to be, I wouldn’t feel like a complete man.
So please, do the right thing and give me back my big toe.