I was waiting for the 4 train one night last summer, earbuds in, wearing a tennis skirt and sandals that revealed my fresh pedicure. A man sat next to me. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see his neatly trimmed beard and fitted jacket.
“Excuse me,” he said.
I had to take out my earbuds to hear.
“Excuse me,” he repeated. “But that’s a beautiful color.” He gestured at my feet.
“Oh. Thank you,” I responded and made a move to put my earbuds back in.
“Can I ask,” he said. “How did you end up choosing that color?”
I looked at him. “Well,” I said. “I mean, I’ve just, I’ve always liked purple. And. It seemed pretty, so I don’t know."
The train pulled up, and I hopped on before the conversation could continue. I was texting my boss at the time, and I laughed over the encounter, but she real-talked me: "Malia. He’s a foot fetishist.”
Whaaa? Unnnbelievable. My friends joked in college that I had nice, model contract-worthy feet (in the same way George Costanza had lovely, model contract-worthy hands that looked like they’d “never worked a day in their life”). But that was a joke, and this was real life. And…New York. So, of course. Of course a foot fetishist. Of course.
Stranger things have happened with strangers.