Thai Toe Torture
I can’t stand to have my feet touched. Never mind tickled. I hate that. But I can’t even stand to have them touched. I’m not weird about feet. In fact, I think I have lovely feet. My toesies are proportionate and don’t stick out at strange angles, and I don’t have one long toe that looks like I’m perpetually shooting the bird with my feet. My calluses are minimal. My nails are strong. They are a size nine, which is a little peculiar for a woman who is five foot three. But they are a perfect size nine, which enables me to pretty much buy shoes off the rack without even trying them on. And shoes. I love shoes, with a burning passion that only some women understand. (I have a blog post just about shoes, if you are interested). I love shoes because they don’t betray you. No matter how much weight you gain or lose, they are steadfast friends. They don’t bulge in strange places. And they pep up any outfit, even a fat one.
My problem is foot maintenance. I live in the South, which is the land of flip flops and bare feet, open shoes and peep toes year round. Feet must be kept immaculate. Pedicures cannot be neglected and grown out until the leftover polish resembles a strange French manicure version just at the tips of the toenails. Calluses must be addressed. Cuticles must be trimmed.
So here is the crux of the problem: I hate pedicures. I hate them. I know most women love a pedicure – for most people it’s a real treat to be savored. As far as I’m concerned, the only fun thing about the whole process is picking the color. I call the whole process Thai Toe Torture, because my nail salon in Atlanta was run by a Thai family, and all the employees were Thai. Here, all the employees are Hispanic, but Hispanic Toe Torture just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
So you enter the salon and pick your color. That’s fun, but it involves a lot of agonizing, because you’re just not sure if the color is going to look good on your actual toes. Then the wait for a chair. When they finally call you to a chair, it’s in some accent that you can’t understand, and you have to ask repeatedly what the number of the chair is, while they look at you like you are some kind of dummy.
You sit on the chair and immediately they trap you with armrests and push a bunch of buttons that cause the chair back and bottom to begin to heave wildly. Big knots appear in the chair that grind into your butt and your back. Now I know, I know, you can refuse The Living Chair, but I find that all the grinding and writhing distracts somewhat from the hideous things that are about to be done to my feet. And God bless Smartphones for the distraction they provide.
They turn on the water, which is either too cold or scalding hot, and they dump in those weird little blue crystals. What exactly are those? Then you start thinking about all the nasty feet that have been in there before, and you begin to get a gross feeling. Maybe the little blue crystals are a disinfectant. I sure hope they are. You soak your feet and then they go to town.
Off comes your old polish. They are always clucking and shaking their heads in some language, and you can tell they’re talking about the hideous state of your toes, but you never can be sure what is being said. Then there is giggling. I never knew my toes were funny. Then the hell truly begins. They cut your nails, straight across. Then they start digging and scrunching and pushing those cuticles. Then, ohhhhh nooooo, they get the cuticle cutters and start gouging along the sides of your toenails. Frequently they nick into the acutal tissue of the toes and you feel a horrible pinch. Sometime they draw blood. Then they start filing the nails and you start grinding your teeth, trying to ignore the dragging, skritchy, sandy tickling feeling. I literally am clenching my jaws by this time, trying not to giggle (but not in a happy way) or yell “OUCH”.
Then – the WORST. They dump on that goop and break out the pumice stones. I literally start to sweat when I see them. They grab your foot firmly, as if they expect you to try to run away (I do) and start scratching and skritching and rubbing violently. The tickling sensation is unbearable. You are grinding your teeth and bursting out in miserable little giggles (because it’s that or scream) and they grin at you and say “Tickle?” and start giggling at how funny you are. Then they rub and skritch more, until you think you may have to kill them and run out of the salon screaming.
Finally things start improving. They goop up your legs and wrap them in those hot towels (sometimes way hot towels, with steam coming off of them) and let you sit and recover from the violent assault that you have suffered on your feet. Then they give you a foot and leg massage, which is usually pretty nice, but somehow I always get the one that gouges into the arch of your foot with her thumb while she’s doing the foot part, which is pretty darn uncomfortable.
At last, you begin to feel safe. It is time for the actual painting. You watch as she puts on the base coat and starts brushing on your hard-chosen color. Is it going to look good? Or are you going to be kicking yourself because it looks like shit? Most of the time it looks pretty good. In the summer, you are wearing your flip flops while she is doing the painting, but in the winter, they cram those weird foam things in between your toes and stick on those disposable foam thongs. When they are done painting, it is time to shuffle over to the nail dryer. They immediately hand you the bill. You’re still trying to get your purse settled. You hand them your credit card and debate how much you should tip them for assaulting your feet, making you bleed, and almost spilling all the family secrets just to make them stop. I always tip twenty percent and feel like a big sucker, but I guess they need to eat too. You spray on that funky mink oil – CFC stuff that is supposed to accelerate nail drying, but really, I think it’s a pile of crap. I think the UV dryers are too. I always manage to gouge my polish as I slide my feet out from under the table and take all the foam stuff off. If you’re lucky, you brought flip flops. Even in the winter. But I have been known to walk out to my car barefoot, even in the winter, just to keep from messing up my nails.
To up the ante, when I was in Atlanta, they always pushed eyebrow and lip waxing. They would hover over me, and I swear, one time one of them literally said, “You want eyebrow waaaaaah? Look nice! Your boyfriend love you more!” So of course I got the eyebrow wax, because, really, who doesn’t want their boyfriend to love you more? There’s another pleasant ritual. The feeling of your hairs being ripped out of your eyelid with half your skin, and the lovely feel of scalding hot wax on your upper lip is indescribable. Then the pick-pick-picking of the tweezers as they pluck out recalcitrant hairs. I don’t get my waxing done at the nail place here, because I don’t trust them. I get it done at the hair salon, which is no less painful. Then the next day, you develop horrible mutant acne on your eyelids and lip because of all the skin and hair they’ve pulled off. Ain’t beauty great?