I confess that after writing some 600 columns I never thought that I would write about a pedicure, must less have one. This past week I finally bit the bullet, so to speak, and joined the tiny minority of men who have decided to give their feet some attention. It was not an easy decision.
During the worst of the pandemic, I began to walk long distances. The campus at Auburn University was empty due to the early, terrifying days of Covid. I increasingly walked longer and longer distances through campus as my own sort of therapy. At the same time, I began to download audio books from the local library. It was a great combination.
My milage increased as I got more and more involved in the audiobooks. Being newly retired, I did not have much else to do so I just walked longer to listen to yet another chapter or two of the latest book.
A book, whose title I have since forgotten, led me to accomplish my first ten-mile walk. Unfortunately, that was also the day I was breaking in a new pair of shoes. Ordered over the internet, as was almost everything during that time, the shoes were just a shade too small. The combination of small shoes and long walks led to stress on my right big toenail. Before long, the nail turned dark and eventually I lost it completely.
Over the course of the next few months, the nail slowly grew back. However, it came back in such a way that I had an ingrown toenail. That required a visit to a doctor who after injecting three needles into my big toe, managed to carve out the left side of the nail. A couple of months later, I lost that nail as well.
Nearly a year after this all began, the second rebirth of my right big toenail was underway. I could tell the same issue of the ingrown toenail was happening again. With a little urging from my wife and a lot of reluctance on my part, I decided to have a pedicure. The decision reminded me the angst I had before my first root canal.
My wife, understanding my reluctance (fear), agreed to go with me to her nail salon, which she frequents regularly. My nervousness increased a bit when we went in, and I realized I was the only man in sight. Mary Lou was picking out the color for her nails when I was called back, leaving me alone and terrified on this initial journey. Men have no idea how many colors there are for nails. It exceeds the giant 64 color Crayola crayon box of my youth.
Without her there for guidance and support, I was instructed to put my feet in the water. No, that would be hot water. Scalding hot water. My technician did not understand my words of dismay and my wife was still looking at the 25 different colors of blue polish. The look of pain and anguish on my face finally conveyed the simple message that the water was too hot.
The lady taking care of me then took out some surgical looking tools that increased my anxiety. She touched the one sore spot on my toe, and it was all I could do not to scream like a baby, which is not what a grown man wants to do in room with 20 women.
From that point on, things got better. I had an experience that I had no idea existed. I would highly recommend to my male friends to get the Deluxe Pedicure. I started with a sea salt soak. That was followed by a sugar scrub. Then I had a mud masque before having my lower legs, ankles and feet massaged with something known as massage butter. My wife was smart to not tell me all of this ahead of time, or I would have never set foot in the door.
By then, I was fully enjoying the experience. The massage chair I was sitting in was doing its magic. Then my feet were put in a bag of hot wax and wrapped to let them soak. What on earth had I gotten myself into?
At this point, Mary Lou was sitting in the chair beside me. Her technician, Daniel, spoke perfect English and may have been the most knowledgeable Braves fan I have ever met. With the Braves and Dodgers in the middle of their playoff series, our discussion was a great distraction.
It takes a lot for a man to talk about a pedicure in public. Especially when his first one was at 67 years old. Even more so during peanut and cotton harvesting season. That was just not my vision of what real men do. How wrong I was.
I floated out of the Royal Nails and Spa with my feet on a cloud. The pain was gone, and my feet felt wonderful. There is no other way to describe it. Why did I wait a lifetime to experience something so pleasurable? Because I am just a typical stubborn man, I guess.
Now, if I can only summon the courage to have a manicure. Maybe I am a renaissance man after all.
Dan Ponder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org