The thing I like is the kind of a subconsciously confused look they get.
They like it, but they don't get it. But they don't know they don't get it, and they don't know they like it or why. They find nothing unusual about it. Nobody does.
It's simple. I found it out on my cellphone, which takes pictures. But wait, it does more. Don't ask me why. It's buried in a menu that no one else has. I've checked, but I haven't told anybody, and don't tell anyone yourself. It's too cool to spoil.
Ok, so I took a picture of my friend Van with it. The menu came up with a list of things to do with the picture. One of the choices was "4."
I thought it meant send 4 copies or something. So fine, I pressed 4.
And there's Van's picture, but he's standing there on four bare feet.
Like, that's the feature? It was hilarious. What a stupid feature, a feature that doctored your picture to show you with four bare feet. How would they ever have come up with that? I never saw it advertised. I laughed, and showed it to him. I couldn't stop laughing. This would be a great party game or something.
"Yeah, it came out pretty good," Van smiled, puzzled at my laughing.
"Don't you get it?" I said. "It's a small screen. Look again, closely."
He looked again. "Get what?" he said. He looked at me. "What? It's okay, you can show me if I don't get it."
I looked at him and I must have looked as if I thought he was an idiot, which I did.
"Your feet. You've got four bare feet."
"You idiot!" I said. I can't believe I said that. I didn't mean to. But I pointed at his feet in the picture and then at his real feet and —
He had four of them. Bare. Van. 4.
"What?" he said, looking a little worried for me. "Listen, are you all right?" he said.
I wasn't sure. Was I scared?
"Sorry, Van," I said, trying to keep it together. "Sorry, I must be tired and didn't notice. Crazy, huh? Don't mind me; I just need some sleep. Want me to send you the picture?"
"Sure, Gil," he said, still looking worried, but also trying a smile and starting to look a little relieved. Hey, get some rest."
He gave me a hug, and I decided this was all some dream. I'd get some rest and wake up and tell Van, and Van and I would have a good laugh over this.
And he picked up his stuff and walked away, walking on four bare feet, just as natural as if he had four of them. "Hey, Van, where you going?" called his friend Steve in the hallway.
"Math," Van said, and they walked off together. Steve didn't notice anything, and Van barely skipped a beat with his four-footed walk as they headed off.
I went home and went to sleep right away.
But I didn't seem to need that much sleep. After a while I was up again, and I pulled up the picture and sent it to Van. Then I looked at it again.
Sure enough, there they all were, all four of them.
My brother Clay came in from swim practice. I could tell because he smelled like fresh chlorine, plus he was wearing the tell-tale swim team sweats.
"Hey, take my picture," he said. "I want to send it to my friend Jason."
Jason had moved away a year ago to another state; they'd been best friends on the swim team.
I took the picture and showed it to him.
"Nice," he said. "Came out good."
A light went on.
"Does the picture menu have a 4 on the list?" I asked him.
"Yeah," he said.
So that was real, I thought. But then I was alarmed. "Don't click on it!"
But it was too late. I almost blacked out. Clay was clicking it over and over, his four bare feet pressing on top of each other in consternation.
"It doesn't do anything," he said. He handed it back to me, frustrated. "What's it for?"
I was so freaked out I just said the obvious. "It gives you four feet." Just like in the picture, which showed Clay happily smiling for his friend, standing on four bare feet.
"And two hands and one head, and anything else you already have anyway," Clay mocked. "What does it really do?"
"I don't know," I said, real low.
"Well, read the manual," Clay said, flopping onto his stomach on his bed to study, his four bare feet piled on each other at one end of the bed and his chin resting on his fists at the other as he fished out a textbook from his backpack.
"And send me the picture. Thanks, by the way."
Later, I was at the library, in a glassed-in corner, not studying. I couldn't think of anything but this. I had to figure it out.
I took a picture of a guy in a cycling outfit, outside the window, waiting at a stoplight astride his racing bike, his racer's legs reaching to touch the pavement with his special racing-bike shoes. I hit "4." The little screen showed him astride his racing bike, four racer's legs reaching to touch the pavement with four bare feet.
I looked up at the real guy outside the window. He was trying to figure out what where to put his four bare feet, and it was hard for him to pedal because the special racer-bike pedals hurt to push on with bare feet.
And the seat wasn't long enough for his four legs. I felt bad for what I had done to him, and I tried to see if pressing "4" again would undo it.
It didn't. But the guy rode off like nothing was out of the ordinary. It was hard to see as he rode away, but it looked like the bike now had two sets of pedals that didn't hurt his four bare feet, and a longer seat that was comfortable for his four legs. I checked the picture, and of course it was that way there, too.
So for the fun of it I went around taking pictures. In the gym, they were doing marching band practice, going up and back in patterns in rhythm with the march music they were playing, rehearsing for a halftime show.
From up in the bleachers, I got a shot of the whole band. Came out nice. I hit "4." That came out nice. All the guys in the band marching around, handsomely four-footed and barefoot. And down on the floor, there they were, skillfully following the music, staying in step, the floor alive with foursomes of marching bare feet.
At the pool, the senior water polo team was posing in their speedos for their yearbook picture. Not the juniors, which my brother is on. So I took their picture, too. Came out nice. Hit "4." That came out nice. Both me and the school photographer were done, so the team had to resume practice, which they did, their four legs flashing as they dove beneath the surface, their coach encouraged by their suddenly improved swim times as the boys surged through the water, propelled by their four swimmer's legs.
As I watched, I heard someone say "Hi Gil!"
It was Jason, my brother Clay's friend, coming up to me.
"I thought you moved," I said.
"Yeah," he smiled, "and I'm back for my cousin's wedding, and he invited me to bring a guest to his stag party tonight, so I wanted to see if Clay's around."
"He's at home, studying," I said. "He had me take his picture to send to you."
"Cool," Jason said. "I saw you taking pictures. Take mine for Clay in case I miss him."
"That's a good idea," I said. So we found a nice spot for him to stand in front of the pool, since they were swim teammates, and I took his picture. Came out nice. Hit "4." Came out nice. Jason looked nice with four bare feet. Like everyone else, he didn't find anything out of the ordinary about being four-legged and out and about on four bare feet.
"Thanks," he said.
"Hope you find him," I said, waving goodbye. He loped off happily, his four big bare feet cheerfully carrying him off to find Clay.
Later that night, I was awakened by laughter and luggage knocking about in the next room, and I guessed that Clay was having Jason over for the night in return for the party invitation. After a while Clay came and asked me to take their picture together, the two swim team buddies reunited, nothing unusual about both of them now being four-legged.
So I did, out by the pool. As they swayed in their four-legged speedos, arm in arm, I got a nice shot of the two of them smiling together.
I hit "4," just to see if it would double their legs again. Wow! Came out nice!