There are plenty of myths about ol’ Paul Bunyan, but few give credit to his true inspiration, me, his favorite bunion—the bunion with the onions to inspire his lumbering jackass to greatness. Oh sure, he was big, but he was full of inertia. You couldn’t get him off his butt after he scarfed down those giant flapjacks. There was work to be done. Forests to fell. I was the burr in his boot. When he swung that axe, it was with the rage of a boy whose feet grew faster than his parents could buy new Nikes.
I am the rage of too-small shoes.
When Paul cried as a child, and his tears created the Great Lakes, it was because of me, the bunion pressing in on his other toes with reckless abandon.
Tales of Paul’s speed were legendary. They say he could turn out the light and get in bed before it got dark. But he learned this trick because of how many times he tripped and fell because I caused him to lose balance.
I am Paul’s muse. I am the bunion upon the shore whistling my siren song—shaping Paul into the man of myth. Few know this, but many greats are created by bunions. Lebron James, for instance—another giant. He, too, was forced to turn his discomfort into legendary feats. Or should I say legendary feets (no, I should not, probably)? Had Paul been born in another century, he surely would have dominated the NBA, maybe even for the Chicago Bulls, but they would have to change their mascot to a blue ox.
The tales are tall of Paul, but all great characters are born out of their struggle. So it seems odd everyone forgot to mention my role in his success as a giant bunion. I have my own legends. For instance, they say that a young Dr. Scholl watched Paul square dance barefoot and that seeing me inspired him to create an empire of cushion.
You might say I am the sole reason for Dr. Scholl’s soul search. You definitely should say that because it’s super fun to say, actually.
One time, Paul was plowing his field and came to the end of the row, and his ox wouldn’t turn around, so he picked them up and went back the way he came. I guess I can give him credit for this one, but there’s a part of me that thinks he looked down and saw his crooked big toe, and that inspired him to turn a full 180 degrees, the way I, his bunion, was slowly turning back around toward him.
One thing people get wrong is the name of the river he and his crew logged. It wasn’t Big Onion River. It was Big Bunion River, named after me and shaped all crooked and nobby. It’s not a big deal. It’s just something I’d like the history books to correct.
Not all stories were fit to be retold. Many know about Paul’s acre-wide frying pan used to make flapjacks, but few know that one time, when we ran out of syrup, he reached down and scooped out the excess toe jam caused by me. It’s a pretty disgusting tale, and I’ll spare you the details about another time we ran out of corn.
I tell you all this because feet are super important, and in my opinion, no biography is complete without at least a few details about the things used to get people around. Word to the wise: Respect the bunion, and the bunion will respect you.