Never underestimate the importance of your little toe. Allow me to explain. Anyone who knows me can tell you that I do not so much talk as orate.

I gesture and move, making a conversation as much visual as it is auditory. This remains true even when I am talking on the phone.

So over this past summer, when I was on the phone, I started pacing around the room as I talked. Now, I am not what anyone would call “reasonably coordinated,” but I figured that I should still be relatively safe while walking around my living room. This, however, was not the case.

In the middle of one of my diatribes, as I was pacing near the couch, my keen spatial senses failed me, and all of a sudden I was on the ground clutching my foot and swearing.

Did I mention that I don’t react well to pain?

Shortly thereafter, I investigated the damage. My little toe was looking a little more swollen than normal, but it didn’t hurt. Doing what any reasonable person would do, I poked it to make sure that it didn’t hurt.

If any of you are in this situation, I recommend not following my example. It turns out that it only hurt when I touched it, or rather, when it touched other things, and that poking it hard with my index finger was the sort of thing to make it hurt again. Additionally, I might point out here that I am also not what anyone would call “of average common sense.”

Two days later the toe and surrounding foot-region was purple. A nice dark purple. Well, it would have been nice had it been in a painting rather than my flesh.

One thing that I did take away from this experience was a newfound appreciation of what my little toe does. See, I never noticed the little toe before in any specific capacity. It doesn’t do too much that the other four don’t and often I had wondered if it was really doing much of anything at all.

The answer to that question is yes. When one mangles a toe as I did, you are reminded with every step that it is doing something. Each instance of shooting pain is an indication of a job that the toe was doing silently before and is making me forcefully aware of just how much and how often it works.

So, let my story be a warning to you – don’t wander around while talking if you are uncoordinated, and if you think your toe may be broken, don’t poke it really hard to find out.

Powell can be reached at

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