Yes, there are worse problems in life. But I admit to envy when sitting on a pedicure perch in my local nail salon. The women around me are so relaxed and blasé. They talk on their phones. They laugh among themselves. Me? I’m on high alert. My tootsies are (to put it charitably)… sensitive. So why do I get pedicures? Well, because they’re pretty, of course. But there are several grueling challenges I must endure…
First, here’s what I love…
I love that initial immersion in warm, soapy water. I love the feel of those water jets between my toes and on my instep. It tickles.
I love the clean, soapy smell of the salon. I love reading dumb, celebrity magazines, and watching vapid daytime shows on flat screen TV’s.
I love all this stuff. But then come the challenges…
The Cuticle Part – I try and stay calm as the attendant picks up that metal instrument with flat tip and starts pushing back the skin around my nails. Easy, right? After all, everything’s been softened by water.
But for me, this is dicey. Some attendants are slow and deliberate. Others act like they’re shoveling coal in the engine room of the sinking Titanic. They’re too rough and fast. My foot does an involuntary jump. The attendant looks up, surprised. “Does that hurt?” she asks in genuine puzzlement.
Which immediately makes me worry– do other women do this without flinching? Is flinching strange and different? Must I always be the wuss of any group?
The Callous Part – For me, this is where the rubber meets the road. Or should I say, the scratchy, gritty paper meets my tender, ticklish flesh. I’m amazed at women who have this done while calmly reading magazines.
This is where the attendant picks up that little plastic thing (it looks like a brush without bristles) and adheres a coarse pad. They start at the heel and work their way up to the fleshy pads of the top foot. They scrape and scrape… and scrape. And that’s when I die a little.
How can something make me want to laugh and scream at the same time?
I try and stay cool. But I always have that reflexive flinch and “slight” body twist (okay, I’m almost off the chair). The attendant gives another surprised look. “Tickle?” she asks.
I give another embarrassed nod.
The Foot Massage part – I know people who love these. And again, with the right technician, they feel great. A light touch produces an ahhhh…sensation. But there are others who put too much pressure on the instep and keep repeating the same movement over and over. Again, as I try not to cringe, I doubt myself. Is something wrong with me? Do people actually like this?
I find myself biting my lip. Should I say something? But it doesn’t matter, because once again, there comes that involuntary jump.The attendant nods knowingly and stops.
Good God, these people are going to call a stretcher for me.
Finally, the hard part is over. Tissue is snaked between my toes. Clear polish goes on and then reddish-pink (my favorite color) and…voila!
The job is beautiful and professional. And that’s when I see why I get pedicures. I actually have something about me that’s perfect… my toes. My hair may be a mess. I haven’t worn lipstick in days, but damn, my feet are rocking it!
But wait, one more test of courage remains…
The Shoulder Massage part – I’m brought to the dryer and stick my feet underneath that warm, green light.
“You want massage?” asks the woman kindly. I nod yes, hoping this will be a good one. But again, this depends on the technician. Some are like professional masseuses, calm and soothing. Others make me feel like I’m getting a shake-down on Riker’s Island, jabbing and pummeling. This one is in between — too bad to be good, but too good to be bad.
And that’s how this whole ritual is for me. I can never decide if I love pedicures or hate them.
Finally, I’m done. And the last thing I do (despite the torture) is tip well. Even with varying degrees of proficiency, these women work hard.
I walk out of that salon feeling a strange sense of pride. I earned this pedicure in my own wimpy way — despite skittish cuticles, ticklish heels, and overly sensitive insteps. I did it.
And the best part is looking down and seeing my one perfect body part… reddish-pink toenails.
How do you feel about pedicures? Comments are always welcome and if you’d like, please share. Thank you!
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