Homage to Our Podiatrist
Our podiatrist is avuncular. He is nice-looking with short white hair that sticks up. He has a Hungarian vizsla who is ageing (who does not come to the office). His staff unties your shoes and takes off your socks, and when the appointment is over, puts your socks on and ties up your shoes for you. The staff is like Mom and he is the avunc. His brother is in practice with him as well as another doctor who wears a yarmulke. Today there was a nun in the waiting room. Usually there is a rabbi. Our podiatrist will clip our nails. He seems happy to see me. He uses ultrasound and prolotherapy and has a fancy way of making orthotics involving gait, he doesn't just put your feet into a sticky substance to make the mold. He gives me samples of Biofreeze to massage into my achilles tendon. He believes in Vitamin B for circulation. In the waiting room is a plaque acknowledging his father's efforts in getting podiatry accepted as a bonafide part of the medical profession, complete with insurance reimbursement. The father and the two sons practiced together. Now it is just the two sons. Our podiatrist has two sons and one is in screenwriting and the other is in Israel. That son is fluent in Hebrew. Our podiatrist has that Jewish-Skokie accent that sounds almost like New York-Yiddish-inflected. He is comforting in his goodlooking-ness and uncle/fatherliness and his confidence. Most of all his confidence. He tries this then he tries that. He is calm about trying this then that, scientific method, tick this off, then that. Our podiatrist's synagogue is 50 years old and has had the same rabbi that whole time. On Rosh Hashanah our podiatrist threw his sins into the canal. Our podiatrist stands for stability and family and father-sonliness and Skokie, though he practices in Chicago. He seems to come out of an earlier time, when sons followed into their fathers' businesses, when it wasn't so hard to find people. By that I mean, people didn't stray so far from their origins. I do mean it was easier to locate people. They stayed where they belonged. I didn't stay where I belonged. But the podiatrist makes me feel that I have come into a place where everyone has remained for a generation a two, where they are settled but will move over for a newcomer or two. Where there is a place. Where there will always be a place.