You have to understand, it’s part of my job. I had to get a pedicure.
I’m currently working on a project about men’s style and the virtues, and as part of it I am researching men’s grooming habits and how they reflect not only the body but the soul. In recent years I had seen articles about more men getting pedicures, including Arnold Schwarzenegger. What was one like?
The short answer is: awesome. But before getting to that revelation, I had to work up the nerve to walk into a nail salon and ask for one. Actually, I called for an appointment. I had picked the place due to solid reviews on Yelp, and I figured I would call and arrange something, say in four or five weeks time.
After one ring, someone picked up. I asked if they could work me in in a few weeks.
“Oh, I’m alone right now,” the woman said. “I can take you this morning if you want.”
I said OK and hung up the phone. Then I started to get nervous. It may be hard to understand in the modern era of the metrosexual, but for some of us men even entering a beauty salon is a charged experience, like swimming so far out into the ocean you’re not sure you can make it back. The beauty salon is a sanctum of feminine mystery, the place where our mothers and sisters and girlfriends went to alchemize themselves into to magical creatures we saw when they got home. Going too deep into one would be like plunging your hand inside a woman’s purse. It was just not the realm for us dudes.
But, it had to be done. It’s my job. I wish I could build up a lot of suspense about how I was slowly won over by the tender care of Tina, the woman who did my feet, but I’m afraid the effect on me was immediate. As soon as I lowered my pale Irish dogs into the swirling pool of water, I was won over. I had a telling flashback: when I played high school football we used to “take a sauna bath” after a practice or a game. It was not considered feminine at all; to the contrary, you were thought of as foolish if you didn’t take care of your body so that you were ready to play the next day. My first reaction was a utilitarian one: I spend a lot of time walking around covering stories and making films. I also still like doing athletic things. Having clean feet is a plus.
Then Tina soaped down my feet and deep cleaned them with some kind of green exfoliating goo, and that was followed by a hard brush that shaved off the dead skin, which was followed by a hot towel. I felt a tingling: the circulation was improving down there. “God,” I heard myself say, “that feels SO good.” She continued to work for about twenty minutes, and I found myself feeling bummed out that it was going to end. “You don’t want any color,” Tina said. It wasn’t even a question. No, I don’t want my toenails colored–not that there would be anything wrong with that.
At the end I complimented Tina, tipped her nicely, and headed for the front door. There were a few women in the salon, but I had been so blissed out that I hadn’t even noticed. “See you in a few weeks,” Tina called after me.
Yes. Yes, you will.