In the spirit of trying something new and different, I set off to become the kind of person that goes in for regular pedicures. I never considered my feet one way or another until my grown daughter proclaimed that it was the most relaxing experience in the world and worth every penny.
This sounded like a good thing to try. Since it was so relaxing and cost worthy, I promised myself this summer I’d get a pedicure every month.
The local salon has a good reputation, so I walked in for my June pedicure and was assigned a man. I don’t care if a man touches my feet, but this man did the entire pedicure while staring at my face. My internal dialogue was like: Why’s he looking at me? Do I look like I’m in pain? Okay, I need to look like I’m enjoying this. Think about fluffy puppies. Think about the ocean. Think about Viking men. If I tell him it feels good will he stop looking at me? What if he thinks I’m being sexual? What if he has a fetish? Is that why he’s looking at me?
It never occurred to me to say, “Hey, why are you looking at my face? Shouldn’t you be looking at my feet?” After all, this fellow had my foot in one hand and a plethora of sharp instruments on a table near his other hand.
When the July pedicure rolled around, I did the cowardly thing and went to another salon. It was in another town at least 30 miles away from the June salon. But guess what happened? A man did the entire pedicure while looking at my face. This time I was really self-conscious. I must look like I’m in pain. Is this the same guy as last time? Did he move to another salon? What are the chances of that happening? This time I said, in my most non-suggestive tone, “That feels nice.” Maybe he’ll stop looking at me now. He’s still looking. What am I doing wrong?
In August, I tried a third salon. This time, the woman took me back to the chair immediately, and I didn’t get to pick polish. I don’t know much about pedicure etiquette, but I know you are supposed to pick the polish before you sit in the chair. She sat me in the chair and started the water, then walked off. I told myself to be cool. This is relaxing and cost worthy. I moved the chair back because I’m tall, and I put my feet in the water. I looked around and tried to act the same way as the other customers; pick up a Vogue magazine, skim through it, and don’t even read the articles. Close your eyes and act like you are sleeping.
When I finished practicing my mock sleep, I looked down, and to my horror, the water was just about to run over the top of the little pool. I had pulled my feet out and was getting ready to slog out to turn the water off, when a woman came running over did it for me. Just as that happened, the water overflowed on another foot pool and about ten people had to come and mop it up on their hands and knees with about fifty towels.
I looked around at the other customers, who were as content as ponies in a meadow. They facebooked on their phones and read magazines. I appeared to be the only one who thought a foot pool flood and the ensuing frenzy to clean it up were unusual.
Then, the pedicurist came to do my toes. The first thing she did was adjust my chair forward. She said, “You haven’t done this before, have you?” I gave some non-committal reply, as I didn’t think she wanted to hear the neurotic epic that is my pedicure pedigree.
She was a tapper. When she wanted me to put my foot in the water or take it out, she tapped me on the foot two times. I was not very good at anticipating her next move, so I got tapped a lot. Once, when I tried to stretch my leg out a little bit, her tap was a little bit more like a slap. Evidently, stretching out your leg can ruin your pedicure. Yet again, my microscopic knowledge of pedicure etiquette had reached out to tap/slap me.
She communicated that she wanted me to relax by turning on the message feature in the chair for me. I did not want a massage. I waited until she wasn’t paying attention and turned it off. She got up and turned it back on. This happened three or four times. Did I tell her to stop? No! She had my foot in her hand, and unlike her male counterparts, she didn’t have any trouble communicating what she thought of me as a pedicure-ee. She had power, man.
When she had scraped all of the dead skin off my feet and lathered them in the requisite goo to soften them, it was time for the polish, which I hadn’t picked. She said, “What kind of polish you want?”
“Just something neutral,” I said. “I trust you to pick.” Of course, I had hot towels wrapped around my legs and couldn’t have walked to the front to pick polish if I’d wanted to.
“Yes, but not too bright. Neutral.”
“Okay, I go pick.”
I’d describe it as irradiated Pepto-Bismol. And yes, I let her put it on knowing that it wasn’t neutral like I asked. By that time, I was just ready to pay and get out of there.
Unlike some of the other things I might do during my time of experimentation, like writing about something and posting it to a blog, I can see the results of my foray into the world of pedicures every time I look at my feet.
I know now I’ll probably never be the kind of person who can effect a mien of calm boredom when someone is touching a body part. As much as I would like to be assertive and casual at the same time, I never will be, not in the pedicurist’s chair, anyway. I’ll save my calm assertive energy for important things like when I’m in the doctor’s office with my husband. I think I’ll also learn how to do my own toes.