Coup de’-toe

Last week I got roped into being a foot model for the second time in my Threads life. Previously I had been the foot inside numerous pairs of shoes for an article on shoe covering. This time around I had to be the model for a pants feature written by Linda Lee.

Because my toes were actually going to be seen through a pair of peep-toes, this round required a trip to the salon for my first-ever pedicure. I wish I had talked with someone about the protocol regarding this right of passage because the whole thing ended up being more creepy than relaxing.

I first made an appointment at the salon in the afternoon and started to get nervous about the thing before I even got there. My whole life my mother has ranted about how ugly my feet are and how my dad could never deny me because of my hideous digits. They’re long and skinny and apparently Greek. The Greek and Roman god marble statues all had my toe configuration. There’s even a Seinfeld episode that discussed the weird formation my toes have, and the wonderful 1-inch-length discrepancy my feet have with each other helped dub me as Hefty Lefty. As a child I could pick up the dirty clothes in my room without bending over using my toes and once made my brother cry tears of agony from my infamous toe pinch to the thigh. Needless to say, my feet and I have a strange relationship.

I got to the salon and no one there had heard of me or my appointment. English wasn’t their first language, so I thought maybe there was a language barrier problem. There was a small but pleasant woman who escorted me over to the chair and proceeded the operation directing me with a series of hand gestures (again with the language barrier).

After a couple minutes, another woman came in and sat in the pedicure seat next to me. Her feet were horrendous, so I started to ease up a bit. Hey, at least my toes aren’t hairy or discolored. Just when I started to feel a little better about myself, the chair’s base lifted like a transformer, started to make a strange noise, and out came rotating mechanisms that were furiously gyrating in a wave-like motion. The girl put a towel over it, grabbed my feet and placed them inside the madness. I hated it. I felt like the machine was trying to make my feet become one with it. It was one of the scariest contraptions I’ve ever seen and I’ve been to the torture museums in Europe.

After the mechanized foot massage, I was calmed down by an old-fashioned leg massage that involved the non-speaking woman squeezing aloe plants onto my shins and rubbing them around with a hot rock, which sounds like something an 8-year-old would do who was playing beautician. It felt nice but the whole time I felt weird not being able to communicate with the woman. Was I supposed to just sit there and not say anything? It’d probably be weirder if I was trying to chat with her as she was feeling me up. I finally felt content with leaving her alone as she squirted various “organic” things onto me.

Once I was left alone at the dryer, I felt much better. I was thinking to myself that this would be way more relaxing next time now that I knew what was supposed to happen. Just when I was calm and collected again, a man started to walk towards the drying station. I thought he needed to get around me, so I started to roll my chair away from him. He started to chase me around the station as I kept rolling away awkwardly while trying to not bump my wet nail polish on the drying rack. He finally grabbed me firmly by the shoulder, wheeled me in front of him and proceeded to dig his fingers into my back. Apparently it was time for my massage.

As I left the salon with my plastic-wrapped feet inside my snow boots, I looked across the parking lot. There in the distance on the other side of the complex was another salon–the one I made my original appointment with. Oops.

Nicole Smith is an author, editor, designer, and instructor who lives in Brooklyn, New York. Check out her latest book, Skirt-A-Day Sewing, out now at your local bookstore, or online.
  1. your story had me laughing out loud nikki! i totally relate: i had my first pedicure only a few years ago at the urging of friends who seem to do it as a bonding ritual. i found it to be a very strange experience too! i think i’ve had two more since but it’s definitely not becoming a habit for me. you didn’t mention the part where they bring out the blade and start slicing pieces off your feet!

  2. Oh! I guess I blocked all that out! I forgot that she went after me with sharp objects and poked and pulled at me for a while. I almost kicked her because the pumice thing tickled so badly.

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