Have you ever suddenly been overcome with a crawly sensation at the back of your neck that makes you feel like you're being watched? I guess it happens to a lot of people, but in my case I'm particularly paranoid. Wouldn't you be paranoid if you were me? Of course this is assuming "you" know what the heck I'm talking about. Although I guess if you're reading this journal, you already know everything about me.
Anyway, I'm kicking back, hanging out, literally, in the hammock I got from old man Dunkirk in exchange for helping him put up his hay last week, when I get that crawly sensation. I probably would have been more alert except for the fact I was reading this really cool book and it had gotten to the best part. The errant knight just rescued this chick from a dragon and she was gonna plant one on him, but the guy she was engaged to, who she thought had been eaten by the dragon, came back just in time to interrupt the kiss and challenge the knight to a duel.
Remind you of someone? Yeah, Whitney is gonna come back and kick my butt, I just know it. Lana told me the other day she sent her stupid necklace with him. I can't wait for the day I finally get to kiss her. I'll be leaning in for the big event and I'll puke on her shoes because Whitney has snuck up on me with the necklace. He'll proceed to plant a military-issue boot in my backside.
Okay, so that's neither here nor there. Thing was, I got the crawly sensation, and I just knew someone was watching me. As it turned out, it was two someones: Lana and Chloe. They were standing there looking at me, side by side, like night and day bookends. I was apparently in trouble for something and immediately started filtering through the events of the last few days trying to figure out what it was exactly.
"Uhm, hi guys."
Nothing was coming to the to me. We'd already been through the whole Desiree thing, and I knew why I was on Chloe's list of people she would very much like to see boiled in hot oil. Lana wasn't mad at me, but she'd been getting suspicious lately (What's up with that?) and if she and Chloe had started to compare notes, there was a good chance I was going to be majorly busted.
Adrenaline, I swear, it's adrenaline.
I still can't believe Lex fell for that. Actually, knowing Lex, he probably didn't. It wouldn't work with the girls anyway because adrenaline doesn't set things on fire or pluck damsels in distress out of tornados. That's pushing the envelope of belief out of the "potentially acceptable" range into "delusional" and possibly "deranged."
Crazy people don't often get dates. Neither do I though, which is a very comforting thought - NOT.
"Clark, we need to talk to you." Chloe said.
That's never a good start to a conversation. I swung my legs out of the hammock and started to stand up.
"You might want to keep sitting." Lana added.
Oh, man. I was in trouble. Something they wanted to tell me required sitting down. That was not a good sign. I kept sitting.
"Oohkaaay." I put the book down and looked at them. "What is it?"
"Consider this a sort of intervention." Chloe said, crossing her arms over her chest.
I was pretty glad she did that too. Chloe had been showing off a lot of - skin - lately, and since she was standing and I was still sitting, I had a pretty good view of her "accessories." (You know, like necklaces with pendants that dangled really loooow....) I was trying really hard not to look. One, because it wasn't very nice, and two, setting the barn on fire over Chloe's - ahem - was not something I wanted to have to explain to Dad.
"A what?" I laughed. "Like for someone doing drugs or drinking too much? I'm not doing either, Chloe."
"We know that." Lana said, and one dimple popped into view, which I had learned from all my years of studying The Lana, meant she was trying not to laugh. "This is about something else."
Chloe was not trying not to laugh. Chloe was as serious as I'd ever seen her, and that made what she said next even funnier.
"This is about your feet."
Now I had half expected them to dig into me regarding my wishy-washy affections and the fact that I really wanted both of them but just couldn't commit. Why is it that the males of any species seem to have problems with commitment? Are we that obsessed with having harems? Harems! Sheesh, who wouldn't want a harem made up of Chloe and Lana? Chloe, and Lana and that girl from my calculus class, Mary Ellen. Wow!
I digress, and I also singed the curtains. Mom's gonna kill me.
Okay, so Lana and Chloe are staging an intervention, and instead of laying into me about commitment, they lay into me about feet. Say what?
"We happened to notice your footwear while you were in jail." Lana said.
What had I been wearing? Oh yeah, the sandals. Housegear. Mom flips if we wear workboots in the living room so she went out and bought everyone sandals to wear around the house. Ethan hadn't particularly wanted to wait until I changed shoes before carting me off to jail. I think Ethan was happy just to get to use his handcuffs and play with the big keyring for the jail cell. Dad and I teased Mom that she was next, but she didn't think it was very funny.
I explained this to Lana and Chloe.
Chloe cleared her throat.
Lana winced. "Clark, we don't want to hurt your feelings. You know we don't want to hurt your feelings, right?"
Hurt my feelings? This was getting weirder by the minute.
"You are our friend." Chloe added, and I did not miss the emphasis she put on the word "friend."
I've still not quite figured out the Chloe angst. She's the one who copped the "let's just be friends" attitude and lied about having a summer fling. (Yes, Chloe, Pete told me.) Granted, I did exactly what I wasn't supposed to do as far as "The Rules of Dating 101, by Chloe Sullivan" went, but was I supposed to let Lana get sucked up in a twister?
Girls. They're more alien than I am.
"I'm pretty tough." I said. "Hit me."
It took them a minute.
"You, well, you have less than attractive feet." Lana said finally.
Chloe wasn't quite so polite. "You have the feet of a baboon."
The top ten things Clark Kent does not like about himself, number three: how often I'm rendered dumbstruck. The term "blinked stupidly" was written just for me, I swear. To compound my stupidity I automatically looked at my feet. I was wearing my boots and technically I wouldn't be able to see my feet so looking at them was pretty dumb. They didn't know I could look through my shoes. I looked through them at my feet. I wriggled my toes, ten total, five on each foot, perfectly normal if you were a human being so it wasn't some alien thing. There was a hole in my sock.
"A baboon?" I asked, looking at Lana, because Chloe at that moment just looked kinda mean. She was enjoying it too much.
Lana nodded. "Monkey feet."
"Your feet never evolved properly, Clark. You could play the piano with those toes."
"I can pick up a pencil." I admitted.
They spoke in tandem.
I shrugged. It was very possible I could have evolved from some reptilian thing with a forked tongue. I certainly spoke with a forked tongue half the time, and hated it. Every hedge, half-truth, and outright lie that left my lips was sheer torture. Somewhere the karmic tally sheet had turned over to the next page, and I spent most of my time wondering when the ball was going to drop. I was glad this intervention had not been it.
Monkey feet? Sheesh.
"Okay, so having monkey feet is a bad thing?"
Let me tell you right now, when two girls, particularly two girls that you really like, turn and look at each other after you ask them a question....
Run away really fast.
They looked at each other and then looked at me. Lana blushed.
"Your feet are unattractive." Chloe said bluntly.
I had to keep telling myself that pouting was more unbecoming than monkey feet, because I could definitely feel a pout coming on after that.
Chloe tossed her hair and got vicious. "Ugly," she said.
"Sort of odd."
Well odd wasn't too bad. I am odd.
"A complete turn off," Chloe concluded. "Were you aware that the feet are considered an erogenous zone? The term foot fetish does in fact refer to a condition some people have, in which they are turned on by feet. It's very common. The appearance of your feet is important as far as sexual attraction goes."
No wonder I can't get a date, I have monkey feet.
Lana leaned over to me, and I bent forward so that she could whisper in my ear.
"Keep your boots on," she said, and patted my shoulder.
"In fact," Chloe added. "Whatever your career choice may be, since you still seem non-committal there, you might consider something that requires wearing boots."
"Not the military." Lana said hastily.
I wouldn't be caught dead in the military. An alien, in the military? You can only take the hiding in plain site thing so far, and the very idea of someone like me in the military is sort of frightening. I mean it would be very ultimate weapon-like, not to mention I would run the risk of being found out and whisked off to Area 51 to be stuck under a microscope. No way.
I also did not miss Chloe's emphasis on "non-committal." She was trying to push my buttons. My buttons are stuck on passive. If I were not a pacifist pushing my buttons would be like shaking up a vial of nitroglycerine. As it stands you have to be an industrial strength button pusher to get a rise out of me, and so far Chloe was hovering right around "wimpy" on the button pushing scale. It did, however, hurt my feelings that she was that bitter about what had happened between us.
Just then I heard the barn door close, and the sound of footsteps on the stairs. Lex appeared at the top step and skipped up into the loft. He raised an eyebrow when he saw the girls standing there. I felt like I'd been rescued. Yeah, that was not the case.
Lex exuded a misleading innocence.
"Am I interrupting something?"
Darn it if I didn't blush. Interrupting what? No wonder I started setting things on fire if just a chat regarding how sexually attractive feet were, or in my case, were not, could get me all hot and bothered.
Or at the very least, embarrassed.
If Lex were the proverbial cat with the curiosity problem, he'd have already used up his nine lives. Just the gleam in his eye told me he was extremely interested in what was going on between me and the two girls. I just knew He was picturing some wild threesome in the hammock. That vision made me blush harder, and I swear I smelled the unmistakable scent of wood burning somewhere just beyond his right shoulder. Setting Lex on fire again would not have gone over very well, so my little fantasy quickly dissolved when I envisioned the hammock flipping upside down and dumping us into the floor. "Chloe and Lana are giving me dating advice."
Both eyebrows shot up.
I'd once commented to Mom that it was a good thing Lex still had eyebrows because otherwise holding a conversation with him would not be so easy. Lex had a very expressive face most of the time. He could, however, clam up real tight, real quick. When he did, only the quirk of his eyebrows gave you any clue what-so-ever as to his thoughts. In this case the eyebrows demanded clarification.
"I have monkey feet." I explained.
"Define monkey feet."
"Hideously ugly." Chloe said promptly.
I shot her my best "shut up Chloe" glare.
"Feet like a monkey." Lana said. "Like extra hands."
Lex made a face. "That does sound unappealing."
What he said next was inevitable. It's human nature. It's also alien nature because I would have said the same thing.
The other day I found some chocolate milk languishing in the back of the fridge. It was demanding that I drink it, so I got a glass and poured some despite the fact Mom would have a cow over me drinking chocolate milk before I had supper. I was pretty sure chocolate milk wasn't supposed to be chunky, but I smelled it anyway. One whiff confirmed the fact that the chocolate milk had been abandoned for a reason.
I turned to Dad, who had just walked in the door, and said, "This smells like something died."
What did he do? He said, "Let me smell it."
So naturally, Lex said, "Take off your shoes, Clark, and let me see."
Lex had seen me in stocking feet before during one of our Saturday afternoons, but never barefoot, or bare anything else for that matter despite Pete's jokes about it. Pete's just jealous, and it's not my fault he outgrew cartoons before I did.
That's right, cartoons, and if Lex knew I was so much as writing this down he'd kill me. The only other person in the world who knows what Lex and I do on Saturday afternoons (besides his housekeeping staff) is my mother. I had to tell her because Dad was making so much noise about it. We sit around and eat junk food, sometimes play pool, but always watch cartoons. We're particularly fond of Alien Z, (No relation, ha ha!) because he's a kick butt superhero and he's got a girlfriend with really big accessories. It's also loaded with sexual innuendo and we make bets on which character will say something about, "Planet Bazoonga" first.
Lex owes me a fortune. He tries to hustle me at pool too, and fails miserably, but sometimes I let him win just because it's his house.
Someone once tried to convince me that Lex was a drug dealer, probably Pete, and I had to laugh. One of Lex's biggest secrets is that he's not only worth more than Bill Gates, but he's geekier.
"Come on, come on. Off with the shoes," he said.
Lana laughed. "You're taking your life into your own hands, Lex."
"Take off the left one, that foot is ugliest." Chloe prompted.
Chloe was honestly surprised at the objection. "Why not?"
I scowled. "I'm not taking off my shoes so you can point and laugh at my feet."
"He's got a point. We did tell him to keep his feet undercover."
See, stuff like that comment is why I love Lana.
"But this is scientific research." Chloe chuckled despite herself.
And that is why I love Chloe.
Sucks to be me, doesn't it?
"It is scientific research." Lex said. "I would like to see what makes Clark's feet uglier than most so that I can determine if my own are attractive or not. A person's feet can be very sensual. I once dated a girl with a foot fetish." He shook his head wryly and whistled through his teeth.
Chloe looked at me and made an "I told you so" gesture.
"I'll pass. Why don't you take off your shoes, Lex and let them analyze your feet. They are the experts."
I honestly didn't think he'd do it. I should have known better. The whole thing was very much in line with Lex's quirky sense of humor. He almost immediately toed off a shoe, and with really frighteningly good balance, stood on one foot to remove his sock and pull up his pant leg.
"I haven't had my pedicure for a while," he said.
I rolled my eyes. There was an in-joke about the pedicure. Lex's fondness for well shaped women showed itself in some of the ladies he had working for him. His manicurist was well endowed and had a tendency to wear low cut blouses. The only reason he got a pedicure on a regular basis was so that he could look down her shirt. I might joke about Planet Bazoonga, but purposely setting someone up in order to oogle them was a little too much for me. I didn't approve, and I told him so.
"You could get busted for harassment."
"I'm not groping her, Clark, I'm just looking. Besides, I'm twenty-two, not eighty-seven. I'm supposed to be looking. It's healthy."
"That's the pot calling the kettle black isn't it, considering your voyeuristic habits."
Of course it is. Isn't it? Sometimes I'm not so sure. Lex failed to make a distinction.
"No it's not," he said.
In the end we agreed to disagree, and he just stopped talking about her. Obviously he seemed to have taken my objection to heart though, since he admitted he hadn't had her trim his toes lately.
All of us leaned over to look at Lex's bare foot. To me, it didn't look any different from anyone else's foot, but apparently the girls thought otherwise. They oohed and aahed as if they were watching fireworks.
I really don't understand girls. I must be missing something somewhere, but Dad assures me that it's perfectly normal and not because I'm a different species.
"Men and women," he says. "Are two different species. Human or not, it doesn't make much difference."
I was beginning to come to the same conclusion.
"Well?" Lex asked. He wriggled his toes.
"Do you have to ask?" I muttered. "They're in awe."
Lex's brows went airborne again. "Are you jealous?"
Chloe and Lana did that looking at each other thing again, and they giggled.
Man, when girls giggle together, you are in trouble. Likewise, Lex assures me, if they go into the bathroom together during a double date.
"He's jealous." Chloe said.
"Hmm." Lana agreed. "But I have to be honest here guys, neither one of you can touch Whitney. He's got beautiful feet."
Oh, if I wasn't jealous before, that did it. Fordman has nice feet? The feet that are so going to kick my meteor sickened butt down Main Street and back up again when he finds out I've been getting pretty chummy with his girl? I confess I had a really nasty thought right then; I hoped a tank ran over Whitney's feet and pancaked his toes.
"Oh, I agree." Chloe said. "Whitney has perfect feet."
I should have known what she was up to, but it went right over my head. Big surprise there, huh, considering the fact she liked me had gone over my head for years. I blurted out my response before I could stop myself, and she took great satisfaction in it.
"When did you see Whitney Fordman's bare feet?" I demanded.
"Wouldn't you like to know."
"Yes, I would, actually."
"It's actually none of your business."
I asked Lana later, because during the whole exchange she seemed totally unconcerned that Chloe had seen Whitney barefoot. I could be reading more into it than there was, but she did seem a little concerned that I was upset about Chloe seeing Whitney barefoot. Now I'm really confused because it's starting to look like Lana is starting to like me, which makes things really complicated.
As it turns out, Chloe saw Whitney barefoot the summer before last, when Whitney was life-guarding at the community swimming pool. Chloe prefers the pool rather than the swimming hole out by the river because she is afraid of snakes. I prefer the swimming hole because I am, or was, afraid of Whitney.
Snake, Whitney, same difference.
Ah, that's not fair. Whit really isn't a bad guy, despite his habit of stringing freshmen up in cornfields. I wasn't really afraid of Whitney either, I just don't like the public pool all that well. Anything with the word "public" in it makes me nervous, especially since I found out the truth last year. In the words of Phil Collins, "It's no fun being an illegal alien." I always think Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are going to walk out from behind the concession stand and nab me.
Lex did his flamingo imitation again and put his sock back on. "All right, Clark. Let me see."
"See what?" I asked, more sharply than I would normally. I was still miffed at Chloe for baiting me.
The three of them were staring at me, Chloe rather smugly. I stared back at her for a minute, and after that minute was over I realized I was stupid to be mad at her. Chloe had always used her snark to cover for her true feelings, and her current trend towards a combination of biting sarcasm and bland indifference was masking a big chunk of hurt. I'm still at a loss as to what to do about it.
Nothing new there.
I took off the right shoe, and not because I was worried that my left foot was uglier, but because the left sock was the one with the hole in it. After seeing Lex's designer silk sock and his attractive foot (sarcasm) my value pack white cotton socks seemed sub par.
They looked at my bare foot.
Lana grimaced as if she'd just swallowed a lemon.
Chloe shook her head sadly.
Lex cocked his head and stared. "Your toes look like fingers," he said. "I don't think I've ever seen toes that long."
"They're crooked too." Chloe remarked. "And the second toe is like a foot longer than the big toe."
Nodding, Lex agreed. "Clark, keep your shoes on."
"Thanks, thanks a lot. I now have a complex because you think my feet are ugly."
"Well, if it's any consolation, the rest of you is pretty cute." Lana grinned. "Isn't that right, Chloe?"
Chloe sniffed. "I wouldn't know, I usually just see the back of his head when he's vanishing around the corner, moving in the opposite direction from me." Ow, that stung.
Both Lana and Lex looked more than a little uncomfortable.
Chloe's laugh was more than a little forced. "I'm just kidding," she said, but we all knew she was lying. "And on that note, I have to go. I have to finish up some work on my editorial for this week."
"Me too. I promised Nell I'd go shopping with her this afternoon." Lana headed for the stairs in Chloe's wake.
Both of them paused at the top.
"Keep your shoes on, Clark." Chloe intoned gravely. "Believe me, you'll be glad you did."
Lana nodded, and they both turned away.
I heard them laughing together all the way down the stairs. Looking back at my foot, I failed to see how it could be considered ugly, and wanted to call down to them that I planned on wearing sandals all winter just to torment them. The weird expression on Lex's face stopped me.
"You do have monkey feet."
"Thanks, some friend you are." He shrugged, and watched me put my boot back on. I glanced up at him suspiciously. "Why are you here, anyway?"
Digging around in his coat pocket, he pulled out two paper tickets and held them up. "This."
"What is it?"
"I hooked us up with tickets to a special private screening of Alien Z -The Movie, tomorrow afternoon."
Geeks on patrol, loose in Metropolis.
"Cool. Planet Bazoonga on the big screen."
His grin was lecherous.
"Are you sure you want to be seen in public with someone with ugly feet?" I asked.
"Just keep your boots on, Clark."
I can't believe he actually shuddered.
"So I have monkey feet. Am I doomed to a lifelong bachelorhood?"
"You sure about that?"
I was suspicious. He seemed entirely too nonchalant about it. "Really?"
"What aren't you telling me?"
The eyebrows were all over the place, indicating that Mr. Luthor was trying really hard not to laugh at his naive little friend. I hate that, because I'm not nearly as dumb as I look. Slow, maybe, naive certainly, but not dumb.
"What size shoe do you wear?"
I stood up and stomped one foot, lightly, to get my jeans to fall down over the top of my boot. "Fourteen, why?"
Lex clapped me on the shoulder. "Clark, it's all relative, and size does count. You just tell a girl your shoe size and she'll forget how ugly your feet are, trust me."
I would be lying if I said I picked up on his meaning right away. It took me a minute. I really had to puzzle it out, and gosh darn it, when I did get it, I blushed scarlet. I'm just glad we didn't have to call the fire department.
Lex had a plan.
After we got back from Metropolis the next day, I walked into the Talon where Lana and Chloe were chatting at the bar. Chloe had a cup of hot cocoa. Lana was pretending to be busy when really she was talking with Chloe and working a crossword puzzle.
"Five letter word meaning great?"
"Super," Chloe replied, sipping her cocoa. "Hi, Clark." She seemed to be in a much better mood than she had been the day before. That was cool with me.
I sat down next to her. Lana brought me a coffee. "Hi." I put a box down on the bar and waited.
Chloe was second to Lex in the curiosity department. I knew that box would get her attention eventually. It contained my winnings for the evening. Lex and I had made a wager regarding the number of times the word "bazoonga" would be mentioned in the Alien Z movie. I won the bet. It was said three times, and I guessed four. He guessed five, and this time I made him pay up.
"What's in the box?"
"Shoes," I said.
Lana peeked under the lid, then shut it again. "Whoa, Clark! Since when do you wear Swifts?"
"Since Lex makes bets with me and loses."
"What are Swifts?" Chloe pried off the lid and removed one of the sneakers. "They look like ordinary sneakers to me."
"They're only the most expensive shoes on the planet." Lana said, her eyes widening as Chloe idly turned the shoe back and forth. "Chuck Morgan, the basketball player, he wears them."
According to Lex, the Swifts would be sufficiently impressive enough to get their attention, and he had been correct in that so far. They poked and prodded the shoe all over, suitably impressed, particularly with the information card that stated vehemently that the shoes were not manufactured in sweat shops and that Chuck Morgan personally approved each and every design. I myself wasn't that in awe of them. Give me a good sturdy pair of Carhardt boots and I'm happy.
Also according to Lex, it wouldn't take them long to notice the size.
"What size are these things?" Chloe asked suddenly, up ending the shoe to look at the bottom. "I could wear this as a hat."
Wow. Lex was good.
"Fourteen." I said.
They looked at each other.
Bingo. I had them, hook, line and sinker, just like Lex told me I would.
"Oh, whoops," I looked at my watch, and took the sneaker out of Chloe's hand, tucking it back in to the box. "I have to go. I promised Mom I'd be home before dark."
I left, and got into the car that was sitting around the corner just out of sight of anyone who might be looking out the Talon's front window.
Lex was grinning. "Did it work?"
"Like a charm."
"I don't think you'll have to worry about having ugly feet anymore."
I think he just might be right.
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