Monday, August 30, 2010

I'll Bring the Awkward or The Imperfect Mom Gets a Pedicure

Pink nail polish.Image via Wikipedia

I've come to the realization that I can turn any possible situation awkward in a manner of seconds. Even something as normal and supposedly relaxing and enjoyable as a pedicure.  Most women love pedicures as much as I love sleeping in on the weekends, but I'm not one of them.  I also don't enjoy getting my hair done-I hate sitting still doing nothing, and I really hate the forced socialization.  My beautician is very sweet, but I have a hard time making on going small talk with a 23 year old whom I have nothing in common with.

Anyhow-back to the subject at hand.  (or should I say "foot"? Har, har!)  I usually do my own pedicures-being a lover of all things flip flop, it's a necessary evil.  Before today, I've had one other actual pedicure, in a salon, that is.  I have what may be the world's most ticklish and sensitive feet, so I just remember alternatively cringing in pain, and trying not to laugh. Combine that with the fact that the manicurist didn't speak English, so we had to communicate with each other by smiling and pointing shyly.

Today I found myself all alone.  All alone with some raggedy looking feet that I just couldn't bring myself to deal with.  (Seriously, I think hooves may have been starting to form on the soles of my feet) So, I put on my big girl panties flip flops and headed to the nail shop.

I grabbed a Vogue magazine from the table, because it was the thickest magazine there, although I think Vogue is kind of snooty and boring (a combo which sends my inner snarky thoughts into overdrive).  This was part of my strategy-I'd be entertained, and I'd also look engrossed in my magazine, so I wouldn't have to attempt to make small talk. Rude, I know, but I need all of the Awkward Management Tools I can get.

The awkwardness began when a kindly older gentleman showed me to my chair, and I couldn't quite figure out how to climb into it, or what I should do with my big, old purse in the process.  The man, who apparently did more nodding, gesturing and smiling than speaking English, just stood by with a patient grin.  Finally, I flung my purse up on the tall, throne-like beast, and climbed aboard clumsily, much like a little kid scrambling up on Santa's lap. (Have I ever mentioned that I'm short and unweildy?)

So, the nice fellow starts up the water bath below (ahhhhh!!!!) big, beastly chair starts punching me in the back with vicious force,  and.....and.... squeezing my butt!! Wha??!! I don't remember this happening before! I'm actually not offended by the butt squeezes, surprisingly enough, but the jarring back massagers felt like I was being repeatedly poked by the steel end of a tire iron.  I couldn't put my head back against the headrest, because every time I tried, the tire iron massagers would change position, and technique, pushing me off the seat back.  Alarmed, I looked around at the other women nearby.  They all seemed quite relaxed, heads back, reading books, chatting, or texting.  None of them were squirming, or jerking around in their seats as the violent massage pulsated against their backs, as I was.  I fiddled with the remote control, which only seemed to make it worse, as the technician came over.

I tried to look casual, flipping through my magazine, pretending to look really interested in fushia eyeshadows and spiked, 5 inch heeled open toed booties.  (Booties!! A term I hate almost as much as "jeggings"! And open toed, booties?! Dumb, dumb, dumb.)  The back beating moved from my lower back to my upper back, which actually felt tolerable, as the Korean tech greeted me, and gestured at my feet (with what looked like a smirk on her face), and said "You cut nails yourself?" I looked down at my toenails, which really, I didn't think looked too bad myself, and nodded.

As she began cutting my nails and trimming my cuticles, which thankfully didn't hurt (a feather touch, this lady had!), I wondered what could possibly be wrong with how I trimmed my nails.  I mean, I think I do a pretty good job doing it, although it was obviously time for a trim.  I was jarred out of my thoughtfulness, as the massaging, iron fists, now on my middle back, switched to "agitate mode".  My body was jiggling like jello, and if I'd had on a pair of pasties with tassels.....well, let's just say I could have earned some tips of my own.  You, know, if there had been any men there (besides the smiling older dude), and if I were thinner and younger, and all that.  It would have been a good day to wear that heavy duty, underwire Cross My Heart Playtex number.  As the agitation continued, my wet foot slipped out of the tech's hand, and she looked at me with a surprised glare, as the metal cuticle stick stabbed her palm.  Oops. 

"Sorry!", I whispered, contritely.  Apparently satisfied with my apology, she went back to work, and the chair went back to the "Punch and Squeeze" mode.  Working on my cuticles, I think I heard her say my toes were "nasty".  But I'm not sure, since I could barley understand her-so I tried not to get too offended. Nasty? Yes, my feet were badly in need of a pedicure, but they were clean!  Should I have done a pre-pedi treatment before coming? feet couldn't be that bad, she must have said something else.  Right?

Finally, she turned off the brutal beast, which stilled the water.  Ahhhh, that's better.  "I'm handling this pretty well so far", I thought to myself, "it hasn't hurt, or tickled hardly at all".

Then she started scrubbing my heels and soles with a scrubby pad.  I really tried to play it cool by flipping through my Vogue again, past pictures of too-thin models with haughty expressions, wearing skin tight leggings and red-soled stilettos, as I tried to ignore the tickly feeling.  I nearly peed my pants trying to suppress the urge to yank my foot out of her hand.  Finally, my relexes took over, and my foot jerked forward, causing the tech to scrape her hand hard with the scrubby thingie.  She looked at me again with the same, but slightly more annoyed, surprised glare. Oops.

"Sorry, I have very ticklish feet", I said with an apologetic half smile.  By way forgiveness, she smiled, and tried to start up some small talk.  The conversation quickly came to an awkward end, as I was having a heck of a time understanding her quiet accent.  I always feel guilty when I can't understand someone, I don't know why, but I do.  I feel bad. 

She asked me something about nail polish, and  I pointed to the bottle I had picked out.  She asked me a few more questions after that, but I had no idea what she was asking, so I just nodded and said "yes" or "no" whenever I though it might be appropriate.  I was really afraid that she was only going to paint my big toes for a while (Oh no! Is that what she was asking me? Is that a style?), but then she moved on to the others.  (Oh, good.  She's going to paint them all.  Breathe.) I then started to worry that I was going to end up with some wacky nail art or something, but everything turned out well.

After she finished, I had to figure out how to climb out of the chair-mountain with my toes still in those squishy, spready thingies.  I hobbled over to the dryer, and she started it up and took my payment.  The dryer causes more awkwardness for me-I had my fingernails done once in this salon, and really, you get no direction once you get to the dryers.  After watching other people, it seems like you stay as long as you want, and then get up and leave.  Long bored with my magazine, after about five minutes, I was getting really antsy, so I bent over and gently peeled off the squishy things. 

Appearing out of nowhere, the nail tech reappeared, flapping her arms and gently scolding, "No! No! You not dry! Do you need to go now? Stay for while, you not dry yet!"

Chagrined, I sat back down and put my feet back under the drying table.  I waited another 5 minutes, then looked around, and........ snuck out.  (Remember, I paid already!) Whew.

That wasn't so bad.  On the Awkward But Sort of Necessary Scale, it ranked above getting my hair done and getting my teeth cleaned, but ranked slightly below going to the ob/gyn.  I could do this again, you know, now that I know what to expect, and all.  (I'll wear a super thick sweater to dull the punches)  But, I think it's pretty safe to say that I won't be getting a Brazilian anytime soon, if I can barely handle the intimacy of a pedicure.

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  1. Oh my gosh! I read this while eating popcorn. I almost chocked a couple of times laughing so hard. I can so relate. This is exactly my story most times I get a pedi. Too funny about the massage chair!

  2. OMGoodness! Bethany, thank you for my morning laugh! This was hilarious! And it sounds strangely similar to the experience I had the one time I had a professional manicure. I personally don't think there's anything wrong with doing your own nails. I do my own pedicures or get my hubs to do it for me. He's very good, but he wouldn't want anyone to know that :_)

  3. I worked at a spa for a couple years and I used to be a hairdresser working with many Vietnames nail techs as well. Those chairs ARE supremely awkward to get into..there's NO way to look's impossible!
    I also feel bad when I don't understand someone's accent but I have come to realize that no matter what language estheticians speak...they usually criticize your nails/skin/hair, because they want you to pay THEM to do it instead of feeling okay with doing it! Let's call it "passive-aggressive marketing" ;)
    Although those chairs are awkward and rough consider yourself lucky you didn't wander into the spa I used to work at...the owner, in an attempt to be "unique" opted out of the thrones and had arm chairs and bird baths instead....SO NOT JOKING.
    This was a funny read! Sorry my comment was so long!

  4. I started reading this morning, but I had to leave for work, and we are blocked from blogs...I was so anxious to finish...what a hoot!! I am not super ticklish, but I too feel awkward about pedicures...I've had one...a gift from the mother-in-law. She asked me how it was (11mos. after she had given my the certificate), OK. I got another gift certificate from her 3 weeks later at Christmas...still haven't used it!

  5. I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one who finds pedicures to be a little awkward. I mean, I'll probably go back, but it isn't exactly my "happy place", you know?
    Tanya-bird baths and arms chairs? Wow. That's either very "artsy" or just cheap, LOL!


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