"Thanks mostly to my advancing years and my inherited high arches," reveals lifestyle capitalist and Sag Harbor resident Harry Hurt III in today's Times, "I'd developed a so-called hammertoe." The "offending digit" blistered itself by scraping against his "dress shoes"! And then the weekend lifestyle drama builds: will Harry's hurts be alleviated by a cut-rate, if "light as a feather," aluminum cane ("I cringed in silent horror") or is our hero more a $279 "four-wheeled walker...with bicycle-style handbrakes" man?
Ha! Trick question. "Hammertoe" is actually code for geezer male-bonding.
At last, I arrived at 535 Eighth Avenue, the new headquarters of a 1926 vintage family concern known as Arnold Hatters.... There were red, yellow, green and white shafted canes with pistol-grip-shaped "derby" handles priced at $30; a clear Lucite-shafted cane priced at $60; variously priced black-shafted canes with brass-plated handles shaped like the heads of snakes, elephants, and wolves; and a hollow shafted cane designed to accommodate five tubular glass flasks.
"Are you looking for a pimp stick?" asked a resonant voice. I whirled around to see Arnold Rubin, 70, grinning at me from behind a display case.
But in personal mobility devices, as in life and the markets, never settle:
Although my chosen cane was fashionable and utilitarian, it made me feel weak and vulnerable to muggers and unpaid creditors. Then I spied a $100 Irish shillelagh hanging above the display cases. Made from knotted blackthorn, it was 18 inches long with a leather-strapped handle and a grapefruit-size knob hard enough to crack concrete.
And thus equipped with his foot-and-a-half shillelagh, after "whipping out a credit card," HH3 successfully transforms into an "erect four-limbed man." Really, none of this is made up.