Before my family’s most recent beach vacation, my wife suggested, under the guise of promoting some father-daughter bonding, that I go with my daughters to get a pedicure. This was actually her subtle way of suggesting that I do something about the fact that my toes look like mutant Fritos. Having had my man card revoked a long time ago, I agreed to undergo this procedure that I find about as pointless as chest hair waxing. (I prefer to have mine braided.) Only my middle daughter chose to join me in the ordeal, which makes sense as she is always game for any activity that might involve spending my money frivolously. My youngest daughter also came along to watch, presumably so she could test the limits of her embarrassment.
Because we also needed some lunch meat, we went to probably the only place on the planet where you can shop for smoked ham and enjoy a spa treatment under one roof–Walmart. Naturally, the nail salon is located at the front of the store so that everyone in the checkout lines can gaze with pity and hilarity at the freakish dude getting his toenails done. (Now I know why zoo chimps fling their poo at the spectators.)
When we entered the nail salon and indicated that we wanted pedicures, the receptionist asked us to step over to a massive display of nail polish and choose our colors. I almost reached for the Magenta Midnight Fantasy when I caught myself and informed her that I wouldn’t need mine painted. She just giggled sheepishly and said, “Oh, I forgot.”
Now, lest you get the idea that I’m narrow-minded and judgmental, I do realize that some men have their toenails painted–right before their performances at Cirque du Soleil.
Once my daughter had selected her polish, while I nervously pretended to check football recruiting stats on my manly ESPN app, we were directed by our technicians to have a seat in some suspicious-looking pedicure chairs. My worries intensified when the technician asked me to place my feet up on a little platform, lean back, and relax while she snapped on a pair of rubber gloves. I was suddenly stricken with the terrifying notion that I might have accidentally stumbled into a women’s health clinic and was about to have my annual pelvic exam. Instead, she simply lifted my feet and lowered them into a basin of warm, blue liquid that looked like water from a portable toilet. I then noticed that the back of the chair was moving. It felt like a pair of muscular mole rats had burrowed their way into the upholstery and were engaged in some kind of elaborate courtship ritual all over my spine. I figured that the massage was designed to distract me from the fact that I was allowing another human being to handle and groom a part of my body that even grosses me out.
My technician was a petite and intense Vietnamese lady who undoubtedly strikes fear into the heart of toe jam everywhere. She began by going after my calloused heels with an industrial-grade cheese grater. One foot at a time, she rigorously scraped off my built-in flip flops. I teased my daughter that I’d be sure to bring one of the graters to use the next time we ordered a salad at Olive Garden. (Cue the exaggerated eye roll.)
After stripping away my heel bark and de-clawing my digits, the technician ended the pedicure by exfoliating my lower legs with a gritty, orange paste that was exactly the same color as some massive tropical fish that had been glaring at me reproachfully as they drifted around in their tanks at the back of the salon. When the technician saw me peering at the bright orange fish and then at the paste, she said something in Vietnamese to the technician beside her, and they both laughed a little too heartily for my taste.
Putting aside thoughts that I might currently be enjoying a lotion made out of freshly ground Nemo, I turned my head and smiled at my daughter. Even though I felt a little awkward having a pedicure, I was glad that we shared this experience because I know that before long, she’ll be off on her own, and I’ll have to apply my Magenta Midnight Fantasy all by myself.