[This column originally ran in 2010.]
Everyone, no matter your age or lot in life, should be pampered on occasion. Current events justify it more than ever.
And so last month, I took a plunge. I got a pedicure. For those 30 minutes, the angels sang in harmony, the noise of life stopped and feelings and sensations I’ve never known in 51 years came alive. They say the feet have a billion nerve endings. I think that’s on the low end.
This played out at a strip mall near 143rd Street and State Line Road. For most of the men out there who are uninformed, grab a pen.
The Atmosphere. With customers consisting of nine women and me, it was like The View meets Benihana. No one would confuse it with a barbershop. The ladies to your left and right don’t like talking about the Chiefs or revisiting Coach Mangino’s termination. Grab a Ladies Home Journal and learn a muffin recipe.
The Protocol. Pedicure customers don’t let just anyone work on their feet. They want someone they know, they trust. Likewise, the finest specialists earn a customer list. So it helps to pretend someone has touched your feet recently. Odds are you will be working with one of the finest. I needed it. She was the equivalent of Neil Armstrong, going where no person has ever gone before.
The Chair. The chair isn’t a chair. It’s a La-Z-Boy with massage features. I wouldn’t recommend activating them, however. It felt like a knuckle roll by Mr. T. Skip it and concentrate on what’s happening to your pinky toe.
The Soak. Your feet first go into a fluid of some kind. Not sure what’s in it, or where it goes afterward, but I hope the EPA is involved. It’s like carpet bombing before they send in the Marines.
Relax. You’ve been there three minutes and already your big toe has received more attention than any time since your mother played “this little piggy” in 1961.
The Tools. She is working with something that resembles a Parmesan cheese grater. But it’s nothing you would put on a Caesar salad. It’s called exfoliating but that’s a tall order with shoe leather. Next she will use a wire cutter that is used for something tougher than barbed wire fence — your cuticles and skin that died in 1978.
Following that, she will use some kind of oil — probably imported from Bali — that presumably has a medical component.
Chill. Go with the flow. She may, depending on the challenges presented, use a stone. This is a small version of what Moses carried down. It has holistic features. Go with it.
The Moment. After she’d done the heavy lifting, it happened. I can’t describe it, but I’ll try. My eyes rolled back in my head and my frontal brain lobe entered into some kind of paradise occupied by St. Peter, St. Paul and their buddies. She applied a gel of some kind with granules, like sand but finer. I don’t know what it was or where it came from. She rubbed my toes, between my toes, at the bottom of my feet, along the sides of my ankles. The last time I had toes pulled was my Apgar test when I was born, in the Dark Ages. As I faded away, I saw a light … it was peaceful … I went toward it.
Until someone was tapping on my shoulder.
“Honey, get up. It’s over. Someone needs to use your chair.”
It was my pedicure partner — a.k.a. Lori, taking me from eternal happiness to honey-do list. In seconds, my toes were becoming reacquainted with their old digs — tube socks and Chuck Taylors. I left a generous tip and re-entered the cold, cruel world.
My mental readjustment, I thought at that moment, was nothing compared to my toes.