Intervention Letter To A Friend

By Michael Harriot

Every one of us has a friend who needs our help grappling with a debilitating issue that not only affects them, but has also affected their friends and family. In an effort to stimulate healing, NegusWhoReads offers this REAL intervention letter that we should all share with the one person we all know who needs it.

Dear ________

Let me begin by saying I love you.

I say this with no caveat. We have been friends for a long time, and my love for you will never fade. You need to know this because I don’t want you to think this intervention means that I am drawing a red line in the sand. Whatever choice you make, I will be by your side to help you through it.

You have a problem. I am not the only one who has noticed it, but I can no longer sit idly by and watch you destroy your self-image and your relationships by not acknowledging your crippling problem. It is hurting your life, bothering everyone around you and damaging everything you have worked so hard to build, so I am forced to say it out loud:

You need to do something about your toes.

As we ease into summer, I can’t help but notice that you have chosen to slide into the sunny season by switching your footwear from boots, sneakers and other shoes designed to hide your malady, to flip flops and sandals. As a staunch supporter of freedom and personal liberty, I wholeheartedly believe this choice is up to you. I also understand the comfort and breathability these choices offer, but you should be aware that you are giving the heebie jeebies to those of us who are forced to bear witness to ungodly aberration emanating from your shoes.

I do not want to dwell on the misshapen, mangled mess in your footgear, instead I want to concentrate on some solutions and helpful tips that may alleviate this problem, both for you, and the people who worry that you have an octopus on your ankle or that your tootsies were attacked by a pitbull. Let’s even skip the criticism of your curiously long second toe that seemingly seeks to selfishly outshine your other digits like Beyoncé when she was in Destiny’s child or Dikembe Mutumbo at a dwarf convention. Similarly, I do not feel like this is the appropriate time to question why your big toe points in another direction like you are trying to cross your first two toes before you tell a lie. Perhaps your thumb toe wants to lean over and tell your pinkie toe a secret. This is not for me to decipher.

Instead, I want to suggest that you partake in a pedicure. I’m sure you are worried if the ladies at the nail salon are equipped to work on your crusty feet, but trust me–they have seen worse. As a matter of fact, when I went there for the first time, they used a machine on me that I’m pretty sure I’ve seen in an auto body shop taking the paint off the rusty fender of a Buick Skylark. They might also be able to do something with your toenails that look like my back windshield when I let that treeshade mechanic tint my car windows. At the very least they can apply an opaque layer of polish that won’t show the gray streaks.

Aside from a professional pedicurist, I suggest eating more Kale. I’m not qualified to say you have a calcium deficiency, but I don’t think toenails are supposed to be the same color as unsalted butter. Maybe some vitamin D might make them less brittle because I saw your toenail clippings once and I thought someone had been eating pork rinds and didn’t clean up after themselves.

I should at least compliment you on the fact that they don’t smell. At first I thought it was because you covered them in Gold Bond and talcum powder, but it turns out, you were just ashy. Are you using lotion at all? If so, you need to switch to a skin moisturizer with more heft to it. Perhaps some synthetic motor oil or used bacon grease. Make sure you get the Achilles tendon and the back of the heel because when people stand behind you at the grocery store, they might see your scaly feet, think you are turning into a zombie and try to stab you in the head with the stick that divides the groceries when you are checking out. I love you, friend. I don’t want you to get brain-shanked at Target because you have dry heels.

There are surgeons and podiatrists who might be able to transform your feet with surgery or some kind of foot rehab that can help your pinkie toe grow a toenail, or even better yet, get up off its side like it is a chihuahua taking a nap. Now I know why that little piggie cried “wee wee wee” all the way home.

If all else fails, how about some closed-toed shoes? I know peep-toe heels are all the rage, but if a monster is peeking out of a window, people tend not to like the window. Or–and I know this is a fashion faux pas–but how about wearing socks with your sandals? It just might work. Just think–you could be a trendsetter for all the people with unattractive feet. Someone suggested you wear Vibram five-toe shoes, and then slip on some flip flops, but I think that would be too much to ask… I mean… unless you wanted to. Do you want to?

I hope this doesn’t hurt your feelings. My only intentions are to help you battle this condition, live a happier, fuller life and stop your friends’ stomachs from getting the willies every time they see your dogs.  We haven’t invited you to any of our weekly outings since the weather turned warm. James said ever since you wore those Berkenstocks to the baseball game, he can’t eat nachos without thinking that’s what your toes taste like. Don’t let this get you down. Look on the bright side, with some care and maybe a non-invasive surgery, you can solve this problem. Plus, Pookie said he used to have a foot fetish, but you cured him. So there’s that.

There is an old Native American saying that goes, “Never criticize a man until you have walked a mile in his moccasins.”

This is a very valuable lesson, because even though my criticism might seem harsh, unfriendly and hurtful, we should really concentrate on the true lesson this proverb hopes to teach us:

Maybe you should wear some moccasins.



About the author

Michael Harriot is a renowned spoken word poet, the host of The Black One podcast and the editor-in-chief of NegusWhoRead. He is perpetually just getting warmed up because he has no chill. He is on Instagram and twitter as @michaelharriot

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