Today’s Smirk is brought to you thanks to my sweetie-baby-cutie-pie-wifey-pooh and her younger sister Rochie-butt. I’m not sure why by for some reason terms of endearment for my wife’s family always includes making sure the name of endearment ends with something related to or connected with the derriere region of the human physique.
So here’s what happened … Rochelle, aka Rochie-butt, was visiting for a few days. Now I don’t know about you, but when I get together with my family let’s just say there is an element of goofiness that comes out, gets passed around and is enjoyed by all. Angela’s family shares this same quality, and when she and Rochelle spent a little too much time together (usually twenty minutes or longer) their motivation to break into song, do silly walks or dances, make sound effect noises, or … well you get the point, these types of actions come to the forefront of their personalities.
When these two get in this type of mood two things happen, first, I openly and loudly exclaim how eerie it is at how similar those two are, and second, I attempt to join in starting off by using Star Wars sound effects or sharing my best “Hulk smash!” impression replacing Hulk’s name with someone else in the room. Hey, when a case of the giggles starts there are no dumb additions to keep the fit going. I won’t say that in looking back there has never been the need to offer a formal written apology to someone, but now that I’m out of my twenties, it rarely, and I mean rarely, happens.
So back to Angela and Rochelle, I hear them walk into the house and it is clear that the giggles have already started, I head down to help bring in some groceries and if at all possible get Angela to do her Chewbacca yell, which she will only do when she is in the type of mood. It’s not that her Chewbacca yell is all that authentic, but it always makes me laugh.
As all three of us are in the kitchen, maneuvering around each other, putting away the groceries and Rochelle manages to say something that inspires Angela to begin doing a little dance while singing out, “I’m Rochelle. I’m Rochelle.”
Rochelle makes it clear that she is about to hit the “no more giggles” wall. This is the point in a community shared bout of laughter that someone essentially sobers up in an instance and everything that was previously hysterical is now dumb and not funny in the least. It’s kind of like driving 80 on the freeway and then putting the car in reverse and stomping on the gas. This bipolar action from everything is funny to nothing is funny takes about .0025% of a second, confusing everyone in the room who is still enjoying the warm fuzzy feeling of group laughter.
Rochelle, still half laughing, warns Angela to “Quit it or I’ll get out my secret weapon!” as Angela continues with her song and dance number. Rochelle then hits the wall and the warning to “quit it” stops and her “secret weapon”, or implement of stopping the family insanity, comes out of her purse as she states, “Fine, you asked for it.”
In her hand is her smart phone and tapping away on her touch screen to pulling up its video record function. Once it is ready to go (this take about five seconds tops), her finger hovering over the record button, she gives her final warning, “Go ahead. Keep it up. I’ll put that shit on Facebook.”
Not only did Angela stop her Rochelle themed song and dance, but the same second Rochelle finished her final warning, Angela simultaneously jumped and hid behind me to hide from the camera. Then, peeking over my shoulder with the phone at the ready she squeaked a defeated, “No.” (As is no she would not be put on Facebook doing her musical Rochelle impression.)
I was amazed at how effective and efficient Rochelle’s threat was. I’ve never seen anything work quite that proficiently, and it got me thinking about the benefits of converting to a smart phone for crowd control purposes at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Note: It is important to point at that the power of this threat does not work on kids up to the age of 12 and adults who have had a few more than too many, apparently adolescents and inebriation both seem to carry with it the characteristic of lessened inhibitions when there is a camera present ready to record your every word and action. It’s as if one’s inner “Born to be a star” personality takes over and all you have to do is sit back and enjoy the show.
And, in the case with the drunken adult, it’s a pretty good way to encourage them to pay for all your drinks the next time you go out as payment for letting them delete the only existing copy of the video you made of them off your phone.
The laughter started again about twenty minutes later with no repeat threat of “putting that shit on Facebook” regardless the song and dance number either of them was doing. It didn’t matter though, the rest of the night I replayed the initial event over and over again, smirking every time I got to the point where the threat was made and my sweetie-baby-cutie-pie-wifey-pooh jumped behind me in an act of defeat before the record button could ever be pressed. Ah, the power of technology and its assistance in controlling the amount of goofiness one’s family is willing to dish out at any given time … just brilliant, and a Smirk, I feel, well worth the sharing.
Google Images, keywords: sisters laughing, arrested development chicken, taking photo on phone, and drunk photo.
© Richard Timothy 2011
This weekend brings about a delightful, memorable, and highly anticipated addition to my life as Reverend Rich (click here in the event you missed my Smirk about being a reverend). I get to perform the wedding ceremony for my oldest brother this Saturday. In preparing for this ceremony, it did get me a bit nostalgic for my own wedding almost four years ago … this in turn got me thinking about two of my favorite people, who gave Angela and I one of the most memorable wedding gifts of all time … a treasure hunt in Italy.
For clarities sake we were already heading to Italy for the honeymoon, it’s not like they surprised us with tickets there or anything. We had visited Italy a few years back and had fallen in love with the place. As a result we planned a two week visit for our honeymoon. One week some place new (Tuscany), and a week in a place we had fallen in love with the first time we went (Cinque Terre). It was our love for Cinque Terre that motivated our friends, Mike and Kathy, to visit there when they planned their trip to Italy. They returned from their trip about a week or so before our wedding.
So when they showed up on “the big day” carrying a little paper-made treasure chest that placed on the gift table, curiosity ensued. As friends and family started to gather for the reception and Angela and I found ourselves with a few free moments, Mike and Kathy brought their gift to us, insisting we open it right away and reminding us the rest of the evening that we make sure we take the contents of the chest with us to Italy.
Inside the treasure chest was a booty (treasure for you non-pirate speakers) of plastic imitation bullion, and several pages folded together. It was the paper that we needed to make sure we took with us. As I unfolded the paper there before me was a treasure map! Drawn out on papyrus looking copy paper with candle singed edged to add to its authenticity. Along with the map was a collection of printed out visual identifiers to ensure we did not get lost following the map. Then they shared the following story.
While they were in Cinque Terre they got something for us, and then with camera in hand went on a little walk. Cinque Terre is a national park that included five small fishing villages. Between the last two towns Manarola and Riomaggiore is a famous walking trail called Via dell’Amore, or “Love’s Trail”, and it was along this trail that they decided to burry our treasure. They found a side trail that had a lot less traffic and hiked away from the flow of tourists toward an isolated picnic area. Once there they found a stick and as one played lookout, the other began to dig. Once the hole was big and deep enough they placed the in treasure and covered it with dirt. Then they placed a stone square slab over the top of it so no one could tell the ground underneath had been disturbed, and scratched an X into the slabs surface, adding some dirt and dry foliage as a finishing touch to detour any interest toward the slab.
Now when you are using sticks to dig holes in the countryside along the coast of Italy during the early part of September there is a certain physical alteration that occurs. Things like an excess of perspiration, which can alter ones hair from styled to frizzy and unkempt. Also, ones face can become flushed and changes its hue to bright red. All of these things happened to Mike and Kathy and as they walked down the side trail towards the main trail some tourists who had witnessed them head up the path noticed this change as well.
Seeing Mike and Kathy head up the trail and return ten/fifteen minutes later, all flustered, flushed, sweaty, and a little out of breath led the couple to believe that my friends had been up to something not at all related to burying hidden treasure. The man nudged the woman he was with, nodded toward Mike and Kathy, held up one hand, making the “okay” hand gesture, and then with the index finger of his other had proceeded to move it in and out of the “o” making the international hand sign for “getting it on”. The couple started laughing.
“All we could do was smile and wave, and walk hastily away,” Mike told us, adding, “I wouldn’t have minded if we had been doing what we were accused of. Still, I can see how they made the mistake.”
I took the map and stuck it in my pocket, and kept it with me the rest of the night and for the flight to Italy the next day. There was a buried treasure waiting for us in Italy, and I had no intention of letting that map out of my sight.
It wasn’t until our last week in Italy that we made it back to the beloved town of Manarola in Cinque Terre. Once we arrived and got settled it was too late to venture out treasure hunting. So the very next morning … we slept in, but after a late breakfast we filled my backpack with the necessities, two large bottles of water, one back of granola, one camera, one fully charged spare battery, out Guide to Italy book, and one treasure map.
Conveniently, Manarola was the starting point for the map. The first clue was the flight of stairs that we needed to ascend to get us on “Love’s Trail”.
Once on the path we followed it until we came to the next clue, a “Bar” pole along the path. (There was a little bar along the trail that allows hikers to get a drink, sit at a shaded table, look out over the ocean and enjoy the serenity of the place. This was also the place where the couple “caught” Mike and Kathy coming down the hidden treasure path.)
Just past the bar was the next clue, “Turn left off the Love’s Trail and ascend up toward the Green Point Pic-Nic Area.”
We followed this new side path until we can to the next clue on the map, “Stop at the first blue flag with yellow stars.”
Once there we followed the next instruction, “Turn left and head toward the first pic-nic area.”
There hidden in the back corner of this area was a stone square slab that had and X scratched into the top of it. So I grabbed a stick, picked up the slab, and began to dig.
An inch or so down I hit something that wasn’t dirt. It was the rustling sound of rocks on plastic.
I shook off all the dirt and debris and opened the decaying bag.
Eureka! We found the hidden treasure chest! Granted it was a Barbie doll sized treasure chest, but a treasure chest all the same.
Inside the chest was our booty of European bullion!, which translates into a bunch of one Euro coins and a note instructing us to continue to the end of “Love’s Trail” to a quaint little café with good wine and a beautiful view of the ocean.
We continued our walk to Riomaggiore under mountain side walkways,
next to rocky cliffs and serene blue waters,
and finally arriving at the establishment that our booty was intended for the Viz Della Amore.
Even though it had been about two weeks of amazing Italian wine, I had no intention on detouring from that splendor. Angela, however, does have a soft spot for margaritas and when she saw it available on the drink menu, she could not resist the allure of enjoying a margarita in Italy.
And thus our treasure hunting in Italy came to an end, filling us with love, joy, good food, great wine, one extra strong margarita and a toast to our dear, dear friends who took the time to bury a treasure in Italy and then they gave us the map to for our wedding.
Even though the box full of coins and the lunch they purchased are long gone, the true treasure was the experience that these friends gave us. Treasure hunting in Italy is always there with us whenever we think of Cinque Terre, any time we talk about visiting Italy again, and every time we thing of our amazing honeymoon starting our life together a husband and wife. So it is with this Smirk that I wanted to thank you, Mike and Kathy, for your gift and the lifelong treasure that it, and you, shall always be to us.
Image Sources: Photos from my honeymoon and …
Google Images, keywords: treasure map and doing it hand sign.
© Richard Timothy 2011
It’s a fact, men and women watch television differently … at least it’s a fact at my home. This Smirk is a collection of observations about the differences I’ve noticed when watching television with my sweetie-baby-cutie-pie-wifey-pooh. Clearly this is going to be mostly one sided, but I do think there are cases that most can relate to.
When it comes to watching television with your significant other there are a number of classifications for shows. The first one is the “yay us!” joint appreciation show. These are shows that both of you watch together and thoroughly enjoy. For us this includes/included shows like: Arrested Development, Castle, and Pushing Daisies.
Then there are the “thanks for introducing this to me” shows. These are shows that one party discovers and shares with the other party and soon it becomes as weekly delight that both parties enjoy together. For us this includes/included shows like: Modern Family, 30 Rock, Numb3rs, Battlestar Galactica, and Monk.
Then there are the “putting-up-with-it-because-it-makes-you-happy-and-I-get-a-kick-out-of-hearing-you-laugh” shows. This field usually caters to me since Angela always has lots to do and she can work on her PC next to me on the couch, while I watch the show and giggle. This includes/included shows like: The Big Bang Theory, Better Off Ted, and Psych.
Of course there are the “hell no!” shows that one person loves profusely and the other will have absolutely nothing to do with, refusing to even be in the same room with their significant other when they are watching them. My shows that Angela will not watch with me include: MST3K, The IT Crowd, and Doctor Who. Angela’s shows that I will not watch with her include: The already mentioned Gray’s Anatomy, American Idol (or any similar reality type show), or anything with a wedding theme.
Now even though your list of show you watch and enjoy together is most likely differs from ours, I do believe the classifications hold true for any couple. However when it comes to noting the key differences in how men and women watch television there is a distinct difference between men and women, meaning that the differences in how men and women watch television are so clearly prevalent.
Attention to the Real in the Make-Believe
So last week Angela and I were catching up on an old series that we’ve just started watching, courtesy of Netflix, and in the span of one episode to the next, one of the main characters is suddenly being filmed differently. She spends more time in the office, and whenever she is in a scene she is behind her desk or is carrying something in front of her like her coat or a clipboard filled with paper. My first thought, which I am classifying as the typical make response to watching television, was that they just didn’t give her an active part in that week’s episode. Angela on the other hand, which I am classifying as the typical female response to watching television, became increasingly interested in the scenes this actress was in and by the end of the episode she proclaimed, with a high level of certainty, that the actress was pregnant in real life and show was trying to cover it up.
My reaction, “Oh … ok. Yeah, you’re probably right.” and I didn’t give it another thought with each subsequent episode. Angela, however, continued to watch each following episode with hawk-like intensity, and took great pleasure whenever there was a slip up in the angle which allowed the viewer to see her always covered stomach even for a second. She even had me rewind a scene and pause it at one of these spots so that she could gloat that they could fool her, and that the actress was clearly pregnant.
To be fair, men do this too, but the focus is a bit different, specifically … gun shots. Men are commonly obsessive about counting gunshots, and get incredibly testy the second a revolver fires its seventh shot without showing the person with the gun reloading it first. Nothing puts a man off a full blown gun fight than the blatant disregard for realistic attention to shots fired per shots available ratio.
When an actor/actress visits their hairdresser, it gets noticed, usually by the females first and then eventually (maybe), two episodes later, the man may notice that there is something a little different about characters appearance. The only time the appearance change is noticed the same time it is aired for the first time is when it is pointed out to them by their significant other, which is a result of one of the following statements 1) “Oh I like her new hair,” or 2) “Eww that is a horrible haircut.”
Lack of Character Appreciation
When a guy does not like a character on a show he is watching, he’ll express this sentiment the first time the person shows up in the episode and leaves it at that. If it is a reoccurring character it will be said every episode that that character appears in. When a woman does not like a character, a key flaw about that character’s appearance is noted and then it is pointed out repeatedly throughout the entire episode. For example if a character is deemed annoying for, say, having an overly nasally voice, you can bet that each time that person says a line that line will be repeated out loud by the annoyed female watcher, who will most likely make sure she plugs her nose so that she can echo the character in as nasally a voice as possible.
Since neither Angela nor I have an appreciation for watching sports I’m really not a reliable resource pointing out the differences in how they respond to watching them. As far as I’ve been able to make out it’s a win/win reason for guys to drink copious amounts of alcohol. This means that they get to drink while watching the game, and if their team wins they get to drink more after the game in celebration of the win. However, if their team loses they still get to drink more after the game to help them deal with their team losing. See, either way they get to keep drinking.
The one thing I can tell you about women watching sports is a result of watching soccer with Angela in Italy. It was on late at night while trying to get use to the new time zone, and I am basing this knowledge based on her viewing habits of these games. The woman will pick who they want to win by who has the better looking outfit (team jersey color), or if the team is named after an animal they have an affinity for.
So there you have it, some of the key differences to how men and women watch television. If you have any personal observations you’d care to share, I’d love to hear them.
Google Images, keywords: couple watching tv, diane farr on numb3rs, woman plugged nose, and couple watching sports.
© Richard Timothy 2011
… that makes it all worthwhile. See that, I finished off the thought of the title without repeating it in the opening of this paragraph … clever, I know. Although this is a very subjective topic because you have to figure out what “it” is, and there are definitely times where this idea about “it” can be rather erroneous, say when it comes to pots of gold. One giant pile of gold is going to be better that one tiny pile of gold… unless the giant pot of gold is guarded by a giant dragon and the tiny pot of gold is guarded by a tiny gecko. Then again a giant pot of gold might not be as good when compared to a thousand tiny pots of gold, although that might depend on whether you want to deal with one thousand tiny leprechauns’ or one giant leprechaun. I suppose the same could be said for cheesecake … although I’ve never heard of cheese cake leprechauns before. (I think I’ve gotten off topic and I haven’t even started … meh.)
For today’s Smirk however, my “little things” topic deals with everyday observations, ones that move me to a burst laughter filling me and my day with the appreciation of humor, thus making my day that much better. There are two such things that filled me with that full fit of laughter when I observed them and again each time I think of them.
The first giggle fit has to do asking for directions … from Google maps. A friend at work showed me this just the other day and it made me so happy that I can’t help but share it with all of you. All you have to do is go to Google maps and select the Get Directions option. In point A type Japan. In point B type China. After a few moments a little map will appear with a little blue line showing you the documented route of travel.
It might not seem like much until you begin reading the Driving directions to China. Actually, truth is reading the driving directions really aren’t all the worth of a read until you get to step 42 (Douglas would be so proud), which clearly states:
42. Jet ski across the Pacific Ocean 782km
Even now that gets me chuckling to myself. Thank you Google maps for teaching us that there are times when it is definitely worth reading the directions.
The second has to do with my sweetie-baby-cutie-pie-wifey-pooh and her latest attempt to get the mail. The mail where we live is delivered to our mail box, which is a collection of boxes for the surrounding neighborhood. This way the postal worker unloads the mail for the area into these boxes instead of delivering them door to door. Each house has a key to their mail box and when the mail is delivered people have to leave their house, walk down the street or, in my case, across the street, to open and empty their mail box so it is ready for the next day’s drop off.
Angela has as of late, which is typical for her, been working long hours and has had her share of feeling a bit exhausted when she gets home. The other day, upon getting home she asked if I had gotten picked up the mail. I admitted I had not, so together we ventured out together to pick it up, figuring the walk across the street and back would count as our talk for the day. As we approached the mail box, Angela reached into her pocket and pulled out her keys, holding onto the electronic car door opener remote thingy. Then without even a pause she pointed the remote at our mailbox and pressed the “open” button. Then she pressed it again … I stated to giggle.
She looked down at her hand, finally realizing what she was doing and sighed, “Not again,” to which I started to laugh … loudly. She just smiled, reexamined her keys and was soon opening the door to our mail. “Again huh?” I asked. “It would have been cool if it worked,” she said smiling even more, admitting to trying to open the mail box on more than one occasion using her car remote, but only on the days that she was extremely exhausted. We both laughed all the way back to the house. I love that she can always make me laugh, and some of my favorite laughs with her are times like that where she had no intention of doing so. Thanks honey, you’re the best.
Image Sources: Google maps and …
Google Images, keywords: pointing laughing, group of mail boxes, woman pushing unlock button, and couple laughing.
© Richard Timothy 2011
I went to a woman’s conference this past weekend… yes intentionally, and I began taking a few Smirk-inspired notes about a few observations I had being one of a handful of men there out of over two hundred women. I suppose the first question one might ask, what was I doing at a woman’s conference?
I wish I could chalk this one up to “it was for the experience”, kind of like that whole pedicure excursion I Smirked about last week. But no, the main reason for me being there is very similar to the main reason men go to the ballets, go to Josh Groban concerts, or sit through movies like the Notebook or Sex in the City 1 and 2. That’s right it’s because I am in a committed relationship to a woman I love and adore, my sweetie-baby-cutie-pie-wifey-pooh, Angela… who just so happened to be the one that put on the conference I was attending. It was her second year of putting on her Ignite Your Spark event and it just keeps getting better.
Being one of three men attending a conference compiled of over two hundred women I felt I was in a rather interesting observational position. I’ll admit my observation skills are a little off beat at time, which I blame on losing my sense of rhythm when I was a kid… along with my first wallet. Still, put me in an audience of people clapping in unison and nine out of nine times, yes 100% of the time, I’m going to screw up the simple task of clapping with the beat. This is why I usually just tap my feet or my hand next to my leg instead of that full blown hand above my head clapping while I flail around in what I can only describe as a fit of anti-rhythm. Yep, my superhero power is the ability to unleash anti-rhythm, which causes one to fail to make a single movement in beat with the music. Sadly, I am the only one affected by this super power when I unleash it. I always suspected this about myself, but it became quite clear to me during the closing ceremony Saturday night. I’m just glad the lights were turned down.
This next observation was made by a friend of mine. He was there staffing his wife’s vendor booth while she attended the conference. He came up to me during one of the breaks and asked, “Rich, you want to know the most serene, calm and quiet place at this event? The men’s bathroom.” Naturally I had to test this claim. So, in the midst of all these women visiting with each other, visiting sponsor booths, using the restroom, calling and texting friends about the amazing breakthroughs they just had, I walked into the men’s room. It was around 11AM and only one of four sinks that had been used, the other three were completely dry; they had not been used all day. It was quiet and calm and you would have never guessed the energy and excitement that was going on just outside the door, until…
Knock, knock, knock… “Hello? Is anyone in here?” and around the corner to door popped the head of one of the attendees. “Oh, sorry, are you about done?”
She then proceeded to explain her intrusion, “There’s only one women’s room on this floor and it’s a little packed, and there’s a line and we thought if there was no one in here we might as well use the restroom that isn’t being used.”
“Makes sense,” I said as I washed my hands, “it’s all yours.”
Now obviously I didn’t need to wash my hands, since I had not performed any functions that required the washing of hands, I was just there to experience the silence. However, when you find yourself in a conversation with some stranger, male or female, that walks in on you while you are standing in a bathroom, you really don’t want to walk out of that room without washing your hands, not unless your goal is to ensure that no one else will shake your hand the rest of the day.
As I walked out, a group of ladies walked in. “Good for them,” I thought. They saw a situation that needed to be handled and handle it they did… well done.
The next knowledge nugget was picked up as a result of the room Angela and I stayed in each night of the event… Sleep by Number bed and nothing but glorified air mattress and suck all the comfort and ease of sleep out of you so you wake up tired, achy, pissy, and committed to dropping at least ten f-bombs about how worthless the bed is. I really think the only selling point that would cause anyone to every consider one of these monstrosities of sleepless nights is the fact that it’s a bed with a remote control… some people are quite dedicated to a remote control lifestyle. So if you enjoy an uncomfortable bed that had a remote allowing you to make the bed even more uncomfortable, well then this is the bed for you… stupid bed (obviously I’m not still bitter).
I do think events like this create miracles for people, and by miracles I mean an extremely outstanding or unusual event, thing, or accomplishment. Yes, and based on that definition I’m pretty sure I took part in a miracle, one that I shared with Angela on the last day of the conference. See, I have this rather groovy white button up shirt, which Angela loves when I wear it. So naturally I packed it with me. Then, Saturday morning after getting up, and after completing my obligatory bought of uncensored profanity directed at that stupid bed, I accomplished something extremely outstanding and unusual, for me. I have only attempted this one other time in my life and it went so well the first time I have not attempted it again in over twenty years… I got out my groovy white shirt… and ironed it.
I didn’t iron it well by any stretch, but I did iron it. I even got close to 40% of the wrinkles out of it. I was so impressed with myself and my miraculous experience that once I was dressed and out the door, the first thing I did was find Angela and tell her about my conference miracle. Sure she laughed, but she was also in shock and dismay that I actually ironed something that I was wearing. I even got a big hug and kiss from her as a result. Go me. Hey miracles are subjective and are entirely specific toward the person involved. If a person who has never played golf in their life gets a hole in one, well, it’s a miracle. Now if a professional golfer more gets a hole in one, it’s just considered skill and not a miracle at all. So trust me when I tell you that me ironing a shirt and finishing with fewer wrinkles than when I started, you can bet your ass it’s a bloody miracle.
One of the things I loved about this event was not just experiencing some personal breakthroughs in my life, but seeing some of the huge life altering changes that others experienced. Some people were filled with moments of clarity about themselves. Others let their walls fall down and opened themselves up to the truth that they are amazing; they are worth loving themselves and being loved by others. It makes me sad when people forget their own greatness. However, being able to attend an event where people are constantly reminded not only of their own greatness, but that they are worthy of that greatness, not to mention the abundance of support that all the attendees are giving them in regards to how amazing they truly are, it’s, well, it’s illuminating and it was an honor to be there.
Here are some of the highlights from the event, put together by the videographer, feel free to check it out. (If the video does not play, chick here.)
Ignite Your Spark Highlight Video from Davey Orgill on Vimeo.
Google Images, keywords: empowering women, woman in mens room, sleep by number bed, and man ironing.
© Richard Timothy 2011
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