Day 277: So I Got A Mani-Pedi…

I needed to clean off my desk. While I anxiously await the arrival of a new computer, I figured that a fresh start deserves a fresh desk. It was covered in loose change, pin backs, baseball cards, assorted paper scraps and all garnering a fine layer of dust that’s only visible when the sun hits it right. Even my Eric Gagne bobblehead looked pissed off to be there. I knew I had a task at hand, but I couldn’t get in the right mindset for it. A fresh desk needs to be created by a fresh man. And since I’m still waiting for my first therapy session, I decided that I can be a fresh man physically. So I went to get a haircut.

My usual place was booked up for the day. In the back of my mind, I’m kind of glad they were so I didn’t have to justify $60+ for a buzzing. Luckily, there was a lonely barber next door that was more than happy to lower my ears. It was a no-frills experience, but for 20 bucks, I got a decent haircut. I said to myself, “Now I’m ready to clean my desk”. But I was lying to myself. I didn’t feel any different. How can an indifferent man make a difference? He can’t. That’s a clown question. Searching for answers deep inside, I looked down at my feet and realized what needed to be done.

Rachel and I needed to get Mani-Pedis.

I never understood the economy behind feet. I always found them to be too utilitarian to need vanity. My feet do a good job of supporting my immense weight, physically and figuratively. I didn’t think they had a need to feel beautiful. I stick them into grimy vans every day with no socks. After a long day of work, they’re covered in black gunk. They’re the coal miners of my body, they do all of the dirty work while getting little to no credit. To say that I never considered a pedicure isn’t me trying to sound macho, it’s just me thinking pragmatically. It’s the dirtiest and most used part of my external body, why would somebody want to be paid to touch it? Especially when the money is really not that good? Well, I guess I would find out. Because apparently, that’s the only way I’m going to get my desk cleaned.

The second we walked in, I felt like I was making a huge mistake. I didn’t belong there and I had no idea what I was doing. I was just pointed to a complicated-looking chair and was expected to just…do something. I sat uncomfortably until Rachel settled in, so I could mimic her every move. It made me uncomfortable that the soak basin was black, so I had no proper clue just how dirty it was. But my sandals were off, my pant legs were pulled up, my feet were resting, there was no backing out.

As soon as she touched my foot and started clipping, a million memories came rushing back. I used to get a lot of ingrown toenails as a teenager. Like, my left foot and right foot would interchange which one had an ingrown at any particular time. A few of them became grossly infected, one even requiring surgery. When we went on our family vacation to The Mall Of America [which is the most 1999 vacation a kid could ever ask for], I was still awaiting said surgery. All I could wear was slides with socks because shoes hurt too much. At one point, we went into a crowded elevator and Nicole stepped on my foot. I wailed in pain and everyone in the elevator looked on in horror as my white sock started filling with blood. So needless to say, I have a lot of bottled up foot trauma that I didn’t realize I had until someone wearing gloves actually touched them. Here’s a picture of me processing all of this baggage:

Rachel saw that I was uncomfortable and tried to ease me by going through the process step-by-step. She excitedly said, “Next, it’s time for the pushing of the cuticles!” She seemed very pumped about it and I still don’t understand why. She used tools to push all of the skin together and scrape it off. It was exactly the foot equivalent of scraping plaque off of teeth. I felt like I was on some bizarro planet where dentistry was practiced on toes. After a while, it was kind of cool to see all of the plaque cuticle skin get bunched together, but it came at the cost of all the pent up trauma I have from dentists. As a man with terrible teeth, I never once had a good time with a dentist and the picking, scraping and grinding only reminded me of the horrors I’ve been through and the horrors that await me.

After a while, the smells started to get to me. Just the combination of all the polishes and other chemicals made me nauseous and panicky. Which somehow unlocked another memory. My Aunt Carol used to work at a health food store. Whenever my cousin and I got bored, we would go pay her a visit. But sometimes, we stayed too long and the smell of all the vitamins made me lightheaded to the point that I would have to go sit in the parking lot to avoid fainting. Come to think of it, those might’ve been my original panic attacks. Because of that, I can’t even walk by the vitamins at Whole Foods without crawling out of my skin. But I persevered. I focused on my breathing and read an extremely long article about The Bachelor, which I feel like is the proper thing to do while getting a pedicure.

The manicure portion of it was what it was. Because I was getting no paint done and my nails were already pretty short, there wasn’t much for her to do and I frankly can’t tell that much of a difference. But my feet. These aren’t my fucking feet. My toenails have never looked so even. Don’t get me wrong, they’re still hideous and deformed, but they’re slightly less hideous. Kind of. Sort of. They ugly, but you know…

When we got home, I cleaned my desk in 5 minutes. Now I have a clean desk. Mission accomplished. Do I feel like less of a man for getting a mani-pedi? Fuck no. If anything, I feel like more of a man. I was able to go into a place where I didn’t feel welcome, get pampered in a way that I didn’t feel like I should be pampered and uncovered the root to a lot of fears and anxieties. It was therapy, it was therapeutic and for the first time in their lives, my feet were put first. It’s a ridiculously gross and traumatic thing that I will probably do again. Because I’m getting old. I need to be nicer to my vital body parts before they revolt against me.

Also, I like having shiny toenails.

– TeeCoZee