Dear Dead Joints in My Feet,

It was considerate of you to show up several years before I would need to utilize your existence as a cunning shock tactic for romantic purposes. At camp you helped me gain friends, because everyone else’s defining ice-breaker fact was their favorite color (predominantly blue) but my favorite color was you, Dead Joints. Later in life, though, phrasing became an issue. Men are not attracted to dead bones. I have lately taken to calling you something a bit more complex, which, possibly, I hope, gives off an irresistible aura of sophistication. “Avascular necrosis,” I breathe smokily. “Freiberg’s syndrome. Want to come in?” (You are not in actuality Freiberg’s syndrome per se, but that gives you more majesty than mere Freiberg’s disease. Sorry, Dead Joints, I couldn’t resist.)

I even gave you nicknames. You left one, you bescarred one, you “purple when it’s cold and pink when it’s hot” one—you are undeniably Savvy Surgery Survivor. You right one, bearer of the unscarred skin and faster decomposing bone, you hold the high distinction of cramping the most frequently at the most inopportune times. Once, you cramped in the middle of high-school graduation, right as I was walking across the stage to receive my diploma, making me look as if I were desperate enough to fake a sudden limp in order to gain more applause from sympathetic parents. Yet another time, plucked from the more-pennies-than-Bill-Gates-owns amount of them, was when you failed me in the middle of a Regina Spektor concert at a small, crowded venue in New York, so that I was forced to pinwheel ludicrously on one foot with the enthusiastic motions of the crowd instead of simply stepping or jumping as was appropriate. You and I pivoted in a manner excellent on the basketball court—not so excellent in a small, crowded venue in New York! It is for this peculiar talent that I christened you Complementary Charley-Horse Chum. Don’t forget it.

Fair warning: Eventually, as your disintegration continues, you will, inevitably, be replaced with entirely plastic joints. Don’t freak! I fully plan to ask if I can keep you postsurgery. Displayed on the mantel, Dead Joints, you would make not only a stunning addition to the sparse yet meaningful finger-paint-look-alike culture that already adorns the walls of my living room but also a knock-’em-dead conversation piece, no pun intended.

Sorry I didn’t chug more milk.

Jen Shipon
Cherry Hill, NJ