I’ve never seen anybody as happy to have a bad case of athlete’s foot as my pal McKinnon McMillan.

You’d think he’d won big at the Wetumpka casino blackjack table.

Julia Segars

Julia Segars’ book ‘Aunt Sister’ is now available at book signings and online.

McKinnon had just retired early to reduce stress and get healthy. Arthritic knees eliminated running from his regimen, but he enjoyed a long power walk.

“Just when I finally had the time to get in a good workout every day, my toes got to burning like a propane heater when I walked,” he told his buddies hanging out at Brody’s Body Shop on the crest of The Mountain where I’m from. “The best-laid plans …”

“Ain’t it the truth,” said fellow retiree Corky Sewell, and spewed a stream of tobacco juice through his teeth onto the hot asphalt, where it sizzled.

The Mountain men wafted to and fro on a vintage aqua glider that sat rusting outside the body shop, indifferently watching the mechanics toil away at the underbelly of a 1985 Chevy Caprice Classic hoisted on a lift in the repair bay.

They spent most sunny days in such fashion, telling tall tales and complaining about all the sorry folks who wouldn’t work. They scooched over to make room for McKinnon, and Corky offered him a pinch of Skoal.

“I git all my exercise bein’ a pallbearer for my runnin’ friends,” said Brody, who ambled up about then.

“Ain’t it the truth,” Corky repeated.

Determined not to join the ranks of the retirees rusting away on tobacco row, McKinnon declined the invitation, and crossed the road to the local Big B drugstore, where he bared his feet for a consult with our local pharmacist, Marsha Lee Babcock.

After a quick look at his red, irritated toes, Marsha Lee solved the problem with some Lotrimin and Gold Bond Powder, McKinnon told me later.

Self-diagnosis leads to a lot of unnecessary anxiety, she told McKinnon. “Every pharmacist needs a Valium salt lick,” she added.

That might be a really good idea for the drugstores west of there in Moundville, where last winter two food fights led to assault arrests.

In the first disagreement, the victim’s older half-brother, 24, was arrested for assaulting him after the victim complained about the size of a piece of cheesecake the older brother had cut for him.

The story, as best I can tell from media reports, escalated into a face punch and a busted lip after the victim complained that his cheesecake slice was too small for “a (blankety-blank) grown man.”

The older brother was still holding a butcher knife when police arrived, reports said. The younger said he felt threatened by the knife, but the accused claimed to have just “patted the victim’s face and head like a dog.”

One man’s Alpo commercial is another one’s “Psycho” scene. Southern crazy can be like that.

That’s why I think Marsha Lee might be onto something. I said as much to her not long after she cured McKinnon’s toe angst and fungus, while complimenting her on the salt-lick notion.

She said it came to her while she was watching a rerun of the movie “A Streetcar Named Desire.”

“When Stanley yells ‘Stella!’ maybe he really means his Stelazine,” she said, referring to an anti-psychotic drug. Such thoughts are a hazard of the pharmacy trade, I guess. Or good shop talk for the water cooler.

Even better, I mused to myself later, maybe Stanley was really yelling, “Stale.” I had been pondering on the second curious story from Moundville. Stale Cap’n Crunch cereal sparked that domestic dispute.

According to The Moundville Times, a 52-year-old man was accused of whuppin’ up on his roommate with a laptop charger cord because the victim “tore the (cereal) bag when he opened it and did not do anything to keep it fresh.”

The suspect complained how hard it is to eat stale cereal without any teeth, and allegedly demanded the victim remove his dentures and try some, the Times reported. I have to say, the man had a point.

You just can’t make this stuff up.

Like another anxious customer who visited the pharmacy on a Sunday afternoon. The 82-year-old man had a hot date that evening and tried to use someone else’s prescription for a little blue pill. Bless his heart, Marsha Lee declined to aid and abet Cupid.

“That’s one resurrection that didn’t happen on a Sunday,” she quipped later to McKinnon and me.

“Ain’t it the truth,” he replied. “Got any salt?”

Aunt Sister is a Southern Lady who was raised right but overcame it, bless her heart. Aunt Sister the book is available at