My earliest memory comes from a picture that my dad took of the family when we were eating at a diner restaurant. My mother and my 12-month old baby brother were sitting by the window. The cushioned seating was a shiny, red vinyl color. I was in one booth and Mom was holding sei-lo in the other. I could not stop playing with my baby brother’s feet. They were so adorable! Those tiny little toes were perfect: little, short, fleshy Q-tips attached to a juicy chunk of feet. They were tender, for he laughed whenever I touched them. They were tender, like veal. Soft, like a fresh loin of pork. Augh!
I had to eat his feet. So, unknown to my mother who was trying to hold sei-lo still for the picture, I took a foot and put it in my mouth. Mmmmmhhh…
My brother was very pleased by this new warm sensation. True to his role in my life at that moment, he flapped his wings like a plump turkey. He giggled and he gobbled. He laughed and drooled, innocent as the poultry that are led to the dinner table every Thanksgiving. No turkey’s feet tastes this good, though.
I had much to thank for, too. My parents gave me a baby brother to eat… er… play with. He was a lot more fun than those G.I. Joes. For one, he reacted to things I did. He cried if I poked him the wrong way, giggled if right. He pooped when he was fed. His baby smell was like a piece of Heaven. And… well… he was just gosh-darn fun to mess around with.
Those feet of his, though, were objects of wonderment for me. I don’t know why, but they remained so even when we got older. I recall playing with my brother on my parents’ bed. And, it was just this silly game where we would use our feet to talk. We’d lie on our backs with our feet facing each other. In a high, shrilly voice we’d start talking. You would know that the feet are talking because the toes wiggle with every word. They would bend as if to nod “yes,” and shake from side-to-side as if to gesture “no.” The talk would be about nothing. And, our feet would get into an argument about nothing. The whole point was to arrive at a conflict where the feet are compelled to duke it out with each other. Once in conflict, the toes would scratch and tickle, and we’d scream with laughter. That was it.
I loved his feet. I loved my brother. How did we come to hate each other so much?