This Smirk took place a few years back, at a beauty college no less. No, I was not trying for a new degree, nor was I there for… actually I was there for a girl… my mom. For a Mother’s Day gift that year my sweetie-baby-cutie-pie-wifey-pooh and I got her a gift certificate for a pedicure… that’s the foot one right? Anyway, her gift was to get her toes shined and colored, her toenails that is, and then we’d take her out to lunch. The whole idea was to spend some time with her while she got pampered a bit, so naturally when we got the gift card for the foot cleaning session we reserved a time slot for all the girls, i.e. my mom, Angela, my little sister living in the area, and my sister-in-law. The plan was for me to hang out in a bookstore while they went and got their toes done, and then we would all go to lunch together. It was a brilliant plan, until…
My sister-in-law had to cancel. My nephew’s soccer team made it to the playoffs and she had already committed to go to every one of his games. This left an open chair for the toe portion of the plan. Taking a completely random stab at her expectations, Angela asked if I wanted to take the open spot. “Sure,” I said. Angela was a touch surprised I agreed to join them. In my opinion, life is all about the experiences we have, might as well add some new ones along the way. I’d always heard people use the term pedicure, but I had no idea what that truly meant, aside from paying someone to paint your toenails so you don’t have to. Besides, it seemed like a good idea at the time.
A week later, on a very summer friendly Saturday afternoon, I and three of my most favorite women in the world walked into what I was assured as the best beauty school in town. As we checked in with the hostess, or whatever they are called at a beauty college, I noticed something… there were not a lot of chaps about. I had noticed one sitting in his car in the parking lot, but once we got inside, I think I was the only testosterone producing organism in the entire building. Not that I was opposed or afraid of this realization, it was just an observation. Although, it was one that made me feel like I was infringing on some secret “women only” club.
As we walked into the pedicure room, it was clear from the looks I received that this was not a place where men usually dared to tread. I imagine for them it was a lot like walking into a polar bear exhibit at the zoo and seeing a lemur riding on the back of one of the bears while wearing a jockey outfit, complete with a riding crop. In short, I was a little out of place, but it was a brand new life experience… something I had never done before, and I had no desire to back out now. Besides, our chairs were right over there and they looked pretty comfy. I think the lady that took us to the room and introduced us to our “beauticians in training” was a little worried about me; she was constantly telling me that they have men come in all the time, just not today. It was sweet of her to try to put me at ease like that.
The experience of getting a pedicure was… well… it was like someone took a number of relaxation therapy processes and decided to mix in a few aspects of the Inquisition. There was the pretty smelling and incredibly relaxing oil rubbed into your feet portion that they start you off with to make you think that everything is going to be just fine. Then in comes the pit of hot wax, where, after essentially putting a loose fitting condom over your foot, you intentionally dip your happy and relaxed feet into a vat of hot melted wax. News flash, hot wax = “Ouch, that hurts!” After getting a nice thick layer of wax to completely cover your feet you are left alone as your brain fails to ignore the burning sensation pulsing through your feet, which the beauticians insist is the time required for the wax to, “work it magic.”
My foot girl, not mine per say, but the one assigned to my feet, finally returns and proceeds to pull off the wax coated latex booties I am now wearing. Once off I was surprised, my feet felt quite nice, and I’m sure if my little piggy’s could talk, each one of them would have said thank you and expressed how refreshed they felt, even the ones that are known for crying all the way home. Of course, just as I am experiencing some more happy feet vibrations, out comes the next implement of my torture, “the scraper.” It reminded me of that little metal pick that dentists always use on you so they can be sure to inform you, “your gums are bleeding” at least once before you leave their office. This metal tool had a different tip at each end though, for very specific scraping needs.
The foot girl now has my feet in some form of a kung fu grip while using the tool to scrape all the dead skin out from under my toenails and from the tops of my nails where the nail meets the skin. This is not a relaxing or feel good experience in any way, and as soon as the scraping ends out comes the nail clippers. My feet are now in a bit freaked out by all the bipolar treatment they have been receiving over the last fifteen to twenty minutes and the nail clippers only add to the anxiety. Still, there is no escaping that grip, so with the expression of someone getting a flu shot who refuses to watch the needle get jabbed into their arm, I kept my eyes closed tight until the metallic sound of my nails being catapulted into any possible random direction stops and the foot girl release her grip on my poor bewildered feet.
At this point Angela leans over and whispered to me, “Isn’t this fun.” Afraid to bad mouth any aspect of this den of relaxation torture, I just smile and nod. “Now comes the fun part,” she adds.
“It’s time to go?” I whisper back.
She just laughs at me and gestures to the posy of foot terrorists that are coming back to our seats.
“This is where we usually put the color on,” I’m informed by the foot girl, “but it’s common for our male clients to get their nails buffed and polished instead, if that’s what you’d like to do?”
I’m there for the experience I remind myself… and then remind myself again, “No special treatment for me,” I hear myself say. “Let me see what colors you have.”
This gets me a look from almost everyone in the room, of which there are probably fifteen to twenty clients and just as many minions working on their feet. “Um, ok,” was the only thing she said and soon an array of little bottle of bright colors were displayed in front of me.
Of all the random times to have a sudden whim of work pride, I choose to take this moment and think it would be appropriate to get something in purple since that it the color of the logo for the company I work for, you know, in case I ever decided to wear open toed sandals to work no one would question my dedication to the company. “Do you have any purple?” I asked, which was greeted by a blank stare. Then the foot girl dug into her little bag full of toenail polish and pulled one only one option… it was a actually a rather lovely color of purple. “Perfect,” I said.
As soon as I got a set of toe separators installed on went the first coat, followed by a drying spell and then a layer of nail protector followed by a friendly session with a hair dryer to aid in the drying process. By this time, I noticed that everyone else was finished. Each of them where sitting in their chair, looking down at their newly colored toes, as their toes wiggled excitedly, acting like they are all dressed up and ready for a night out on the town.
Now either it was a result of having the toe spacers removed and they were happy to be able to move about again, or they really were excited about being all dressed up and ready for a night out on the town, but all my toes were soon joyously wiggling around along with everyone else’s. A lady passing by looked down at my feet and actually commented, “That’s a really lovely color.” And that’s when it happened, with no other prompting or planning on my part, I heard myself ask just loudly enough for the entire room to hear, “Who’s a pretty boy then?” adding a few second later, “I AM!” as I threw my arm into the air as if a was a six year old trying to get the teacher to call on me so I can answer the question she just asked, which I absolutely know.
The entire room burst into laughter. “Yes you are,” Angela added, laughing with the rest of the room.
A little while later all our toes were bundled up and back in our shoes and we headed out to lunch, which was quite lovely as well.
A friend once told me it can be painful to be pretty, and I think my toes would agree, then again, he was bit of a masochist, so who knows for sure. As for my experience… have I been back? No. Was it worth it? Well, it was one of those defining life moments, but more than that it’s one of those memories that always get my mother smile, and that, in and of itself, makes it worth it every single time we get together and laugh about her pretty boy and his purple toenails.
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© Richard Timothy 2011