Monday, March 28, 2011

The State Of My Mental Health Can Be Seen In The State Of My Toes

I know I’ve made jokes about this in the past, but I could easily get addicted to pedicures.

Now, for you men who are reading this...don’t think this is just a girl thing.  Any guy who has had a pedicure before will tell you he’ll be back for more.  And any woman will tell you...we wish you would get them more often.

That sound of Velcro as your heels hit the sheets is not as endearing as you might think.

Before my husband died, I had had one pedicure in my entire life.  I am usually not embarrassed to say that I’m a late bloomer in most areas, but the fact that I hit my 30s without ever getting my feet buffed and polished is just shameful.  And even after I had that first one...I still don’t think I really got into them until after my husband died.

Once he was gone, if you listened closely, you could hear my tires screech to a halt at the sight of that one, magical word.


I’ve often said that I’m surprised that during that first year without him, my toenails didn’t just surrender and fall off.  If I had a spare 45 minutes without my kids, you would find me in a chair, feet soaking, contemplating if I just wanted to vibrate or if the day was bad enough that I needed the back roller.

In fact, I once joked during a speech that you could tell my mental state by the condition of my toes.  If they looked chipped and raggedy, you’d know that I was doing well.  If you could look at my feet and see your reflection, you’d know that my next call would be to my therapist.

I haven’t treated myself to a pedicure in the longest time.  I just haven’t had time.  But today, I finally went.  And with the first whiff of cuticle oil and suddenly hit me why I was there so often that first year.

Getting a pedicure is a luxury.  It’s not like when you go in to get your hair done...that’s necessary.  It’s not even like when you go in to get a massage because that usually indicates that you have a knot somewhere that won’t go away without some 100 lb. girl putting 200 lbs. of pressure on a spot that will have you biting that headrest you’re smearing your make-up all over.

A pedicure is, in most cases, completely unnecessary.  I used to think that my attraction to getting my feet “did” was because at a time in my life when I couldn’t make any decisions...I could choose a color for my toenails and feel like I’d accomplished something.  And if I didn’t like my decision, I could go back the very next day and get it changed.

There are very few decisions in life that can be changed with a cotton ball and some alcohol.  So that was a big comfort.

But today, after abstaining for way too long...I realized there is more to it than that.

When I walked into the nail salon, I almost teared up.  It was like I had finally made it back to the mothership.  No kids asking me for a cup of ice, no...crushed ice, Mom.  No email pinging.  And, thankfully (and who would ever have thought I would be thankful for this)...not one person in there cared about my day.

In most nail salons, they don’t talk to you.  They don’t ask you how you’re doing and if they do, I don’t think they really expect you to answer.  Any place else you go...the grocery store, the mall, even the hair salon...they’ll ask you how you’re doing and expect the perfunctory “I’m fine” and don’t want to hear, “Well, my dog shit all over my house, the school bus never showed up this morning, and I spent the better part of my day trying to get my dead husband’s name off my caller ID.”   

When you walk into the nail salon, you say what you want to have done, and all they say is “pick a color” while they fill up a warm basin of water.

Ohhhh...the colors.  I know that my dream job would be to write for the Onion some day, but on the weekends I’d like to moonlight as a Polish Namer for O.P.I.  Not-So-Bora-Bor-ing Pink.  I’m Not Really A Waitress.  Baby It’s Coal Outside.

What a risk-taker I feel like when I walk out with toes that have been temporarily named “Hooker in a Red Dress”! 

I feel embarrassed to admit this, but I once quit going to a very nice nail salon because the owners often had their 2-year-old wandering around.

Of anyone, I should understand the need for someone to bring their kid to work.  Seldom does a conference call go by at my house without someone in the back ground screaming, “MOM!  We’re out of toilet paper and I’ve been sitting here for like an hour!  I could’ve drip-dried by now!”

This is when I have to pause the conversation, grab a toilet roll that was completely within the reach of my child, and place it calmly on the roller.

But when I’m out for my 45 minutes of pretending I’m not a mom...actually pretending I’m not much of anybody...I don’t want to have to smile politely as a 2-year-old tries to show me his prize sippy cup.

So I had to make a change, even though my conscious has been bothering me ever since because I’m not helping to fund that child’s college eduation.

Now the place I go to has jewelry for sale everywhere, so I can look around and imagine what necklace would go perfectly with my new toes.  There is a chick-flick on the TV with subtitles so that the sound doesn’t interfere with the 80s music that’s playing.  No one talks to me.  No one even knows my name.  And not one person asks me to explain my current mental state.

Maybe that’s the OPI name I’ll come up with:  “I’m A Widow.  Look At My Toes And You’ll See I’m Fine.

I’m envisioning electric blue so no one will miss it.

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© Catherine Tidd 2011


  1. I am a widow who paints her toes electric's the perfect color!
    I will say that I liked "dark and weird" long before my husband died, but now I really enjoy it.
    There is nothing like a pedicure!

  2. You have inspired me... going to get a pedicure tomorrow!