Who Foots the Bill

A Parable for Our Times

Frank Podi was born without feet. His parents did not know why. The doctors did not know why, and after years of searching for an answer, Frank never found out why. It just happened.

When Frank was in school, he would look out the window at all the other boys with feet, and then he would spend long afternoons alone in the library. One day in the library, Frank decided he would become an expert on shoes.

Frank soon saw how shoes were causing damage to the environment, especially the high-heeled shoes many women took pleasure in wearing. The rubber-soled sneakers athletes wore, which left black marks on the school's tile floor, were also troublesome. How foolish was Frank's classmate, who chided him one day with the words, "I cried because I had no shoes, but then I met a man who had no feet."

Frank launched a campaign to get rid of shoes. At first there was resistance, but when it was discovered by vegetarians that many leather shoes were made in sweatshops overseas by victims of capitalist exploitation, shoes gradually lost their appeal. Bare feet were called green feet and became a fashion statement.

After a few years, Frank's campaign worked. Voters sent to Congress members of the Sho Fly Shoe Party. They passed legislation that placed high taxes on shoes and forbade the import of shoes from China. The opposition Bootblack Party claimed evil was afoot, but their voice was not heard. Then, a scandal! The Bootblack Party leader was forced to resign when it was disclosed he had put his best foot forward.

Soon, all shoes were made illegal. The last remaining shoehorn was melted down to make rings. But there was a problem, especially in cities. As more and more barefoot people rode the subway, traipsed through alleys with broken glass, and stepped on nails, foot infections rose exponentially.

It was soon decided by the nation's health care system that it would be cost-effective to just amputate the feet of children as soon as they were born. A whole new generation rose up without feet. They were called the "Footloose and Fancy Free" kids. Rollerblades came back, but thankfully, skateboards were no longer slapping the sidewalk or wearing down the rails of monuments. Stairs were outlawed.

The language was ordered purified. Gone were terms like "foot-long subs" and "football." Because no one read poetry anymore, it mattered little that poetic feet were forgotten. Never let it be said our leaders have "feet of clay," or a political campaign got off on the wrong foot even if the candidate had a foot in both camps.

To call someone a "shoemaker" was the highest insult. Educators warned children not to say the name "Emilda Marcos." Parents threatened children with punishment by Bigfoot if they misbehaved. There were rallies. When the loudspeaker broadcast Nancy Sinatra singing, "These Boots Were Made for Walkin'" the children yelled in unison, "Liar, liar, liar." Scholars wrote books on "foot privilege."

In his old age, Frank Podi felt the warm glow of satisfaction. The footed were washed away like footprints in the sand by a new tide. His investment in glove factories made him a rich man. Now, plans were in the works to abolish horseshoes.

When Frank died, the state honored him. His quest for social justice was praised by the Senate. An official statue of Frank was cast in bronze. He was depicted with a smile and his head uplifted, as if he were welcoming the light of a new day. It was further decreed that all future statues of Frank must be only eleven inches high. If they were twelve inches, that would be a disgraceful foot.
A Parable for Our Times

Frank Podi was born without feet. His parents did not know why. The doctors did not know why, and after years of searching for an answer, Frank never found out why. It just happened.

When Frank was in school, he would look out the window at all the other boys with feet, and then he would spend long afternoons alone in the library. One day in the library, Frank decided he would become an expert on shoes.

Frank soon saw how shoes were causing damage to the environment, especially the high-heeled shoes many women took pleasure in wearing. The rubber-soled sneakers athletes wore, which left black marks on the school's tile floor, were also troublesome. How foolish was Frank's classmate, who chided him one day with the words, "I cried because I had no shoes, but then I met a man who had no feet."

Frank launched a campaign to get rid of shoes. At first there was resistance, but when it was discovered by vegetarians that many leather shoes were made in sweatshops overseas by victims of capitalist exploitation, shoes gradually lost their appeal. Bare feet were called green feet and became a fashion statement.

After a few years, Frank's campaign worked. Voters sent to Congress members of the Sho Fly Shoe Party. They passed legislation that placed high taxes on shoes and forbade the import of shoes from China. The opposition Bootblack Party claimed evil was afoot, but their voice was not heard. Then, a scandal! The Bootblack Party leader was forced to resign when it was disclosed he had put his best foot forward.

Soon, all shoes were made illegal. The last remaining shoehorn was melted down to make rings. But there was a problem, especially in cities. As more and more barefoot people rode the subway, traipsed through alleys with broken glass, and stepped on nails, foot infections rose exponentially.

It was soon decided by the nation's health care system that it would be cost-effective to just amputate the feet of children as soon as they were born. A whole new generation rose up without feet. They were called the "Footloose and Fancy Free" kids. Rollerblades came back, but thankfully, skateboards were no longer slapping the sidewalk or wearing down the rails of monuments. Stairs were outlawed.

The language was ordered purified. Gone were terms like "foot-long subs" and "football." Because no one read poetry anymore, it mattered little that poetic feet were forgotten. Never let it be said our leaders have "feet of clay," or a political campaign got off on the wrong foot even if the candidate had a foot in both camps.

To call someone a "shoemaker" was the highest insult. Educators warned children not to say the name "Emilda Marcos." Parents threatened children with punishment by Bigfoot if they misbehaved. There were rallies. When the loudspeaker broadcast Nancy Sinatra singing, "These Boots Were Made for Walkin'" the children yelled in unison, "Liar, liar, liar." Scholars wrote books on "foot privilege."

In his old age, Frank Podi felt the warm glow of satisfaction. The footed were washed away like footprints in the sand by a new tide. His investment in glove factories made him a rich man. Now, plans were in the works to abolish horseshoes.

When Frank died, the state honored him. His quest for social justice was praised by the Senate. An official statue of Frank was cast in bronze. He was depicted with a smile and his head uplifted, as if he were welcoming the light of a new day. It was further decreed that all future statues of Frank must be only eleven inches high. If they were twelve inches, that would be a disgraceful foot.

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