Excerpt from Valley 101: A Slightly Skewed Guide to Living in Arizona, a collection of Clay Thompson’s columns for The Arizona Republic. (Originally published May 14, 2000.)
Here at Valley 101 headquarters, white-coated lab technicians have been working round-the-clock to answer one of the greatest questions ever to cross the Valley 101 transom:
Do your feet get bigger when you move to the desert?
You know, we spent hours flipping pancakes, doing day labor, weeding soybeans to get through college, followed by years of crawling over the broken reputations of colleagues and competitors to arrive at a place of relative safety in journalism, and it comes to this: Do your feet get bigger when you move to the desert?
Hours of research, misinterpreted by some of our less-polished masters as watching Cubs games, failed to produce a firm scientific yes or no.
However, anecdotal evidence from readers, some of whom surely have an extra chromosome, has flooded in. A common theory: sandals. For example, this from a reader who claims to be “M. Hamilton’’: “Since I moved here three years ago, my feet have grown a half shoe size. Some of my friends have suggested that it’s because people here tend to wear sandals, which spreads out your feet.”
Class: Do you people actually sit around the Valley 101 student union discussing your feet? “Speaking of campaign finance reform, my feet are getting huge.”
Reader David Valentine offers this idea: “It is the natural job of feet to sweat. Due to the lack of humidity in this region, feet are prevented from doing their normal job. (This) causes the subcutaneous tissue to swell, therefore expanding the cutaneous tissue resulting in an expansion of the foot.”
Next: Does working for a newspaper make your brain smaller?