SUCCESS! Does it, despite all your efforts, elude you? Your closet bulges with power suits, your body is honed to fighting trim, you put in 12 hours a day at the office -- and yet someone else always walks off with the big promotion.
The fault, dear friend, may lie in your feet. Little-noticed new research has found that 84 percent of those who make over $50,000 a year have one thing (more precisely, two things) in common: high insteps.
"We were trying to discover what makes people successful," explained Timothy Larue, PhD, head of the groundbreaking study and author of "Insteps: The Soul of Success," "and frankly, we made little progress until we got them to take off their shoes."
With the help of sophisticated new technology -- the Gatricklan calipers, which can measure the arch with 98.7 percent accuracy -- Larue discovered the truth: Good arches are essential in climbing the ladder to the top.
"The high arch seems to give people a kind of lift," Larue elaborated.
To further ground their study, Larue and his researchers from Achilles University hunted out hordes of the homeless in Seattle, Los Angeles, Washington and New York's Bowery.
"One thing that struck me," says Larue, "is that many of these failures seemed just as intelligent -- even as attractive -- as many chairmen of the board. But when they removed their shoes, and we placed their feet in the Gatricklan calipers, we discovered that 78 percent of them had fallen arches. 'My dogs is tired' seemed a common complaint."
Dr. Mark Llint, author of "Men With Big Feet and the Women Who Love Them," says flatfoots can fall under another person's "power" arch without even knowing it. "People with high arches send a powerful subliminal message," he says. "Studies have shown that when a man or woman with high insteps walks into a room, the pulse quickens, the pupil widens and the skin flushes in observers of both sexes."
Llint theorizes that this aura of the arch may be rooted in the earliest era of human development. "Neanderthals with high arches could run faster and longer and thus have more energy for the hunt," he explains. "Even those who stayed at home were better at the important ritual dances. In a society where endurance was important, those with flat feet were out of luck. Today the archaic arch remains the archetype."
History has proved authorities such as Llint and Larue correct. Lady Jane Grey was a pretty, lively teenager who loved dancing and racquetball and had a good figure for clothes. When she was chosen to be queen of England, her political cronies expected her to be wildly popular -- a sort of 16th-century Princess Di. But others, without ever seeing the young queen take off a slipper, sensed that something was wrong.
"I don't know," recalled a peasant named Arnold. "She just didn't seem like a queen to me. She was lacking a certain je ne sais quoi, n'est pas?"
Arnold was perceptive. Queen Jane's feet were flatter than pancakes. Nine days after she was crowned, she lost her head.
Nor has Lady Jane been alone in paying the terrifying price of the flatfooted. Throughout history, misfortune has dogged those with fallen arches, while success and glory has come to those who step lightly.
How to tell if you have flat feet? You can ask your podiatrist to measure your arches with the Gatricklan calipers, following up with a CAT scan. Or you can perform a quick and easy test at home: Stand in front of a full-length mirror. Slip a pencil beneath each arch. Straighten your back. If your arches touch the pencils, you have flat feet.
Unlike Lady Jane, today's flatfoots can do something about it. A simple procedure called metatarsology is becoming increasingly popular. The metatarsal bones are cut and then surgically heightened and lengthened by a hard, flexible plastic insert called a phonicon. As in all surgery, there is, of course, some risk -- a small percentage of people never walk again -- but for most the resulting high arch is worth the danger.
Dr. Llint urges people considering metatarsology to first seek expert counseling. "The new possibilities that high arches open up for you can be frightening," he says. "Some psychologists are beginning to recognize the need. And more will specialize in metatarsology counseling as the procedure becomes more popular."
Larue agrees. "High arches are the issue of the late '80s," he says. "In the future, a metatarsologist will be as common in the delivery room as an anesthesiologist. A quick checkup of the newborn, and metatarsology can be performed immediately if needed. Flat feet will become just one more memory of a primitive past. Humans at last will be free from failure."
Elizabeth Gold is a Montana writer. This satire is not necessarily related to reality.