Everything I Ever Needed to Know About Farm Footwear, I Learned on a Boat

I learned the hard way that platform wedges and all manner of open-toed sexiness look sexier if the toes peeping out aren't blue and bleeding, especially the showcase toe. The VIP of the peep-toed pump toe. The toe that, as it turns out, bleeds like a head wound when hit by a hatch door.
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Oh my God, there's a bee in my hair.

No wait, let me correct that. Oh my God, there are two bees in my hair. I'm out on my front lawn finally dealing with my late husband's almost equally late pear tree, and the bees are none too happy to see me. This has, after all, been their pear tree since my husband got sick and, since his death, they've taken over like squatters in an abandoned building. What surprises me most is not that they're enjoying what appear to be dead and dying pears, but that they appear to be honey bees -- the very species scientists keep squawking about disappearing. I probably should call someone and give them the good news but I'm unsure who to call and really, what do I say? Hey, you know those honey bees you've been looking for? I found them. They're here on my farm, in my practically dead pear tree and the small city of decaying fruit they've built all over the ground.

The ground.

As I'm swatting, bobbing and weaving like anyone desperate not to be stung by a bunch of ticked off bees, and as I've never been the kind of person who could swat, bob, weave and walk at the same time, you can imagine that I'm not watching where I'm stepping. Under normal circumstances this wouldn't be a big deal, but these are far from normal circumstances, what with at least a hundred honey bees buzzing around my head and, as I've mentioned, the small city of decaying fruit they're living in at my feet.

No wait, let me correct that. Under my feet.

In a frantic, spastic moment of ducking, swiping, swearing and begging God not to let me get stung, I step on a swollen, decomposing pear bursting with bees. Instantly, they swarm my foot. For old, improperly shod Suzy, (read: platform wedges while feeding the chickens), this would've meant immediate agony and maybe the use of an EpiPen. Ok, that's an exaggeration. I have no idea if I have a bee allergy. I've never been stung. But I do know that it would hurt like hell and if I didn't die, I'd probably want to or else, in my infinite agony, I might really go around the bend and kill my kids for being in front of the TV, watching the Skins take it to the Saints, instead of out here helping me like I asked them to. Or maybe I'd just finally come to my senses and cancel that damn over-priced NFL Sunday Ticket. Hmm. Maybe a bee sting is the way to go.

In any case, I step and connect with a bloated, oozing pear the bees are gorging themselves on, and they, in turn, connect with my foot. My workboot clad-foot. That's right, after seven years of living on a farm in nothing but high heels (and the rest of my clothing, of course; farming naked is not my style), I'm finally wearing the appropriate footwear.

Why? Because recently I learned the hard way that platform wedges and all manner of open-toed sexiness look, well, sexier, if the toes peeping out aren't purple and blue and bleeding through a mountain of bandages.

No wait, let me correct that. Not all my toes were purple and blue and bleeding through a mountain of bandages. Just the main toe, the most crucial toe, particularly as it pertains to balance, mobility and, most importantly, pedicures. Yes, I'm talking about the showcase toe. The VIP of the peep-toed pump toe. The toe that, as it turns out, bleeds like a head wound when hit by a hatch door. Yes, the big toe.

How did I come to this hard-won discovery? Well frankly, it came to me late one night on a sailboat with my beau.

I hopped up to be helpful (never a good sign, as I sail with about as much proficiency as I farm), and offered to help drop the anchor. If you're wondering what misguided notion possessed me to make such an offer well, it's simple: I'd done it One Whole Time Before, and there was wine involved. And in my very fuzzy mind, that combination practically qualified me to be Captain.

Now at least on the farm, I'd have been wearing shoes. The wrong shoes, but shoes nonetheless. On the boat, I was barefoot. I was also wearing a very cute bathing suit that, sadly, will never see the Chesapeake Bay or any body of water ever again. Sky blue with spring green swirls of color, it was my favorite -- right up until the moment splatters of blood rendered it something Carrie might have worn to the after-prom pool party.

What can I say? I'm old, and even over-served and in searing pain, I can still recall the days when Carrie was the benchmark for horror films. Which is sort of what the scene resembled when the hatch door took out my toe.

I have a vague recollection of flying into Little Miss Misguided Enthusiasm 2012 mode, announcing "I'll help with the anchor!" and racing to the bow of the boat. (The bow, for you landlubbers like me, is the front of the boat. But this piece really isn't about how much sailing lingo I've learned, is it?) Then I threw open the hatch, stomped on the anchor release button and howled like the epidural quit mid-push as the heavy metal door came crashing down onto my right foot.

No wait, let me correct that: It came crashing down onto the big toe on my right foot, an extremity already so hideous that it looks more like a disfigured hamster than a human body part.

In an instant, my beau was all antiseptic and bandages, ice, Ibuprofen and a mountain of pillows to prop up my poor, throbbing appendage. Thank God he was there, all cool, calm and collected, and not once uttering the words, "You've really got to secure the hatch, Susan."

This I now know, along with the words "bow," "stern," and "I think I'll just lay here and cry in the cabin, okay?"

Three weeks after my debacle, I'm still hobbling along on a toe that's swollen and sore and nearly devoid of its nail, but I've learned my lesson. From now on, it's work boots on the farm (take that, honey bees!) and deck shoes on the boat. In fact, I plan to break my new pair in next weekend when we sail out of Annapolis, but I'm leaving my bathing suits at home.

After all, I'm still me. All misguided enthusiasm and helpfulness. And for that reason alone I'm going with jeans, maybe even black jeans. Because really, how better to hide the blood?

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