I have long ago made peace with the fact that I am not a manicure person. In fact, my fingernails are one (or ten) of the least favorite parts of my body, second only to my Buddha belly and skinny ankles. And I don’t think my fingernails are too crazy about me, either. If they were, they would be tougher and more resilient and not break just because I’m constantly tapping a keyboard. And I can’t be bothered wearing gloves to do household chores.
But I believe my fingernails and I have come to an understanding. I am willing to trim one if it becomes ragged, and occasionally attack all 10 of them with an old emery board. And they have become accustomed to going naked into the world.
When it comes to toe nails, however, I do prefer a bit of color. Which brings me to the subject of pedicures.
Do you find pedicures stressful? I do. Although I’m embarrassed by my frequently colorless toe nails, I’m prevented from taking regular trips to the nail salon due to the fact that it requires me to sit still for a seemingly endless period of time. I barely manage to get through the soaking, scraping, sticking, trimming, and enameling phases. By the time I’m required to place my toes under that little dryer and sit for ten minutes more, I feel like a hyperactive child who’s just been given an extended time out. (Perhaps my inner child is hyperactive.)
I think the words of another, perhaps somewhat more talented author, who also happens to be my muse, best expresses my ambivalence about pedicures. Here’s what Nora Ephron had to say:
“The best thing about a pedicure is that most of the year, from September to May to be exact, no one except your loved one knows if you have had one. The second best thing about a pedicure is that while you’re having your feet done, you have the use of your hands and can easily read or even talk on a cell phone. The third best thing about a pedicure is that when it’s over, your feet really do look adorable.
The worst thing about pedicures is that they take way too much time and then, just when you think you’re done, you have to wait for your toenails to dry. It takes almost as long for your toenails to dry as it does to have a pedicure. So there you sit, for what seems like eternity, and finally you can’t stand waiting one more minute so you gently slip on your sandals and leave and on the way home you absolutely ruin the polish on your big toe and since your big toe is really the only thing anyone notices as far as your feet are concerned, you might as well not have had a pedicure in the first place.” *
Couldn’t have expressed it better myself, Nora. But clearly, you never lived in Florida. If you had, you would have realized that the push-pull response to having your toenails “done” is no longer merely a seasonal issue. The nail salon avoidance syndrome becomes a year-round conflict.
But my issues with pedicures goes beyond my lack of “sitzfleisch.” ** Listen, we all have our Achilles Heel, do we not? That one point of weakness in an otherwise strong character. Well, mine happens to be my feet. This fact became crystal clear to me, when, as a child, I was a victim of the tickle torture. I was rendered completely helpless when it was discovered that my feet were the most vulnerable. Sorry to say, this is something I never outgrew. Similar to never shedding the “baby fat,” but that’s a topic for another day.
Now that I’ve shared this intimate personal anecdote, perhaps my trepidation about the pedicure is a bit more understandable. You can imagine the utter embarrassment that accompanies the uncontrollable laughter as the serious nail professional earnestly tries to remove the ugly calluses from the bottom of my feet! And my barely harnessed reflexive response that could cause my foot to kick her\him smack in the face!
So here I sit, staring at my unlacquered tootsies and wondering when I will summon the courage to stop speeding past the nail salon. When I will bravely walk through the door, choose my favorite color from the hundreds of bottles of polish on the wall (which is an additional time-consuming act), sit in the chair, and plunge my toes into the warm water soak, the first of many steps towards adorable feet.
As I waste time pondering this silly dilemma, I’m reminded of the words of the wise old philosopher, or was it my grandmother? “For the rest of my life, this should be my biggest problem!”***
*Nora Ephron’s “On Maintenance” from I Feel Bad About My Neck, Random House, 2008.
**A Yiddish expression meaning the ability to sit still for long periods of time in order to accomplish something.
***My Grandma Rose