“Letti the Yeti. Letti the Yeti,” the children chant.
… “Mama, what’s Yeti?”
“The Yeti is a monster, Letti. It’s also called Bigfoot.”
Letti’s mother promises her daughter she’ll grow into her feet, but she never quite does. The nickname sticks through high school.
Letti thinks things have changed when Jack Sparland, captain of the football team, asks her to senior prom. When they get to the gym on the big night, Jack says he needs to go to the locker room. After a few minutes, a wave of laughter crashes toward Letti. The crowd parts and reveals someone wearing a gorilla mask and swimming flippers. Letti recognizes Jack’s voice when he asks her to dance.
About 20 years later, Jack becomes a regular at the diner where Leticia waits tables. Jack is dating Stella Stackling, one of the other servers. Jack and Stella break up, and Stella quits her job. Jack continues coming to the diner for breakfast and often sits in Leticia’s station.
The first time she pours his coffee, Leticia fights the urge to spill it in his lap. She becomes able to pretend he’s just another customer who likes his yolks jiggly. As time passes, Leticia makes small talk and giggles whenever Jack says something he must think clever. One morning, she hurries a ten dollar bill after him as he leaves the diner. He tells her it wasn’t a mistake. About a dozen eggs later, he asks her out.
On their first date, they go to dinner. “It’s nice having someone wait on me for a change,” Leticia says after ordering.
“It’s the least you deserve.”
Leticia stretches out her leg and strokes Jack’s foot with her own. When Jack begins to reciprocate, she retracts her foot.
Jack squishes his eyebrows together.
“You don’t belong to the Y, do you?” Leticia says.
“Uh, no,” Jack says. “Why do you ask?”
Leticia likes to swim at the Y. One day she caught a young boy looking at her bare feet. She toweled off then strode past the boy and told the mother to teach him it’s not polite to stare.
“Just curious,” she says to Jack.
Leticia and Jack become frequent companions. The first time they go to his apartment, she notices a framed blue ribbon, with the words “Best Dad Ever,” hanging behind the sofa. Stella Stackling hadn’t said anything about Jack having children. Leticia already wonders sometimes if her plan goes too far. “That’s sweet,” she says, nodding at the blue ribbon.
“Lesley. He was my Irish Setter. He didn’t give it to me, of course, but I know that’s how he felt.”
Leticia sighs with relief.
When they go to bed, Leticia strips off everything but her socks. “My feet are always cold. Poor circulation from being on them all day.”
The next morning, Jack says Leticia made him feel young again. “You’re off today. Stay awhile. Let’s shower together.” He tries to remove her socks.
Leticia pushes his hand away and says she isn’t feeling well. She stops by the Y on her way home.
“I’d love to go there for dinner,” Leticia says as she tops off Jack’s coffee. “But it’s so expensive.”
“We can splurge,” Jack says.
“How ‘bout some service over here!”
Leticia starts to turn away.
“Uh, just one thing, Leticia,” Jack says. “We’ll need to dress up a little. I’d love to see you in a skirt. And high heels.”
“Oh. Pumps hurt my feet after being on them all day. Let’s go someplace more casual.”
“But I thought we’d—”
“Lady, you going to keep chit-chatting over there or what?”
Leticia goes to the agitated customer.
A few evenings later, Jack and Leticia are at his house, sitting on the sofa and watching a horror movie. Leticia wipes her forehead with her sleeve. “It’s hot in here.”
“I turned the thermostat up so you can take your socks off.”
A scream comes from the television. “That’s gruesome,” Leticia says.
Jack turns down the sound and begins kissing Leticia and rubbing her feet. She takes his hand. “Let’s go to bed,” she says, pulling up her socks.
… A loud gasp awakens Leticia. Jack is standing over her bare feet. “My God,” he shouts. He runs into the bathroom. After a moment, Leticia hears a roar, and Jack charges back into the bedroom with a chainsaw. “I’ll prune these monstrosities back for you, Yeti.”
“No!” Leticia screams. She awakens with Jack shaking her and kissing her cheek.
The next morning, Leticia lies in bed with her head on Jack’s shoulder “Can I ask you something?” she says.
“Why did you play that horrible prank on me at senior prom?”
“I’ve been dreading this. I’d hoped you’d forgotten about it.”
“I’ve been waiting for the right moment.”
“I’m so sorry, Leticia. I was a stupid kid.”
“I’m ashamed of my feet to this day.” The lie clutches at her throat, and she coughs to clear it.
Jack lifts the covers. Leticia undulates her feet, hidden as usual in a pair of baggy socks.
“I have a confession,” Jack says. “I love women’s feet. Even back in high school, but I didn’t want to admit it. Thought I was a freak. Guess I took it out on you. I hope you forgive me.”
Maybe I shouldn’t do this, Leticia thinks but pushes away the misgivings. “I have a confession, too. Stella Stackling told me about your fetish. Nothing wrong with that, and I’d like to help you except …” Leticia starts to remove a sock, then stops and sighs. “I just can’t. Maybe we weren’t meant to be together.” Leticia touches the sheet to her dry eyes.
“I think we’re a perfect match. You need someone to help you get over your complex. Someone who admires your beautiful, big — your beautiful feet.” Jack rolls Leticia onto her back, nuzzles her neck, then works his way downward, kissing her breasts, her stomach. Here we go. Leticia fakes a moan. Jack pulls back the covers.
I told him Stop! she’ll tell the police. But he wouldn’t. You see, I have this … complex. I told him No! but he did anyway. It was an assault. You have to arrest him.
Jack kisses her knees. “What are you doing?” she says. I’ve got him now. He deserves this. He does.
“Please, Leticia.” She feels his tongue on her ankle, and he starts to tug down her socks. “No, Jack!” Go, Jack … I can always drop the charges later. Just getting him arrested will teach him a lesson.
Jack rolls onto his back, panting. “OK, OK.”
Leticia’s mouth falls open. “You … You’re stopping?”
“I don’t want to force you. Maybe one day …”
Letti turns her face away from Jack. He keeps talking, but his voice recedes till all she can hear are her mother’s words — The Yeti is a monster, Letti.