“Are these the most disgusting feet you’ve ever seen?” I asked the pedicurist, indicating my Godzilla feet, on which the toenails are gnarled and misshapen, products of a clipping technique that can only be called rank butchery.
I had just doffed my socks in a self-conscious flourish, revealing a ten little piggies shit-show for only the most stout of hearts. The pedicurist, Lina, a placid and tolerant young woman, said she had indeed seen worse feet than mine (that’s sweet — liar) and proceeded to miraculously suppress a gag reflex before getting down to business: trimming, filing, buffing, cleaning and massaging my fetid footsies.
Until today, I was a pedicure virgin, though I’d often considered one, because every time I trim my toenails, I inadvertently snip them into violent geometric shapes, with lethal, triangular edges that shred costly holes in my socks.
I skipped pedicures even as men’s magazines extolled them, couching the concept in cheery descriptives like “relaxing,” “cleansing,” “restorative” and, the best, “tickling.”
“Think of how often your feet are exhausted, sweaty, rough, scaly, and stinky, or how often your toenails are either overgrown or over-clipped,” writes GQ with graphic glee. Men’sHealth suggests guys get a monthly pedicure to prevent “discolored toenails or flaking callouses” and resplendent diseases like fungal infection.
That’s all good and well, but I entered the nail salon to fix a pre-existing massacre. My feet were a Swiss Army knife of toes, each one a pointy utensil that could conceivably save me if I’m ever lost in the forest. (The corkscrew is, naturally, the most fascinating toe of all.)
The only male in the salon, I climbed onto a giant recliner. It was time to slip off my shoes and socks.
“If you haven’t seen everything,” I warned Lina, “you’re about to.”
But, disappointingly, my horrifying hoofs couldn’t rattle her. With professional aplomb, she gently soaked my feet in a small, dreamy jacuzzi bath, then continued to clip, trim, sand, file, buff (that’s the tickling part) and massage my feet, all the way up my shins. It was fast. It was cheap. It was a delight. I gladly overtipped.
And there I was, my feet silken with lotion, baby-pink, smooth and unsullied, each toenail burnished to a pearly sheen. A single tear daubed my cheek.
While Lina conducted her sorcery, I examined my hands and fingers, thinking, ping, a manicure! It’s about time I stopped biting my fingernails and sanding the nubs on teeth, pants, chairs, dog, whatever. Uneven nails, bloody hangnails, crunchy cuticles — I’m either eight or a coal miner. GQ, I know, would approve.