All spring, I’ve wandered around with dry, calloused heels. I thought it was about time for professional attention, so I bopped over to my favorite day spa. I say day spa loosely, since it’s really just a Vietnamese nail salon that happens to have daytime hours.
But I’ll take it, and I sit down to the usual French pedicure and the pleasure of a barely-functioning vibrating chair. It’s always the same, really. They shove a paper in front of me with all sorts of upgrades and add-ons, but I always refuse in the name of economy, or habit, or fear that they might start painting elderflowers on my big toe because of a communication breakdown. But this day was different. On this day, I’m doing something fancy.
The lady seemed shocked with I told her what I wanted – the extra-long pedicure with citrus scrub. She nodded at this with approval, like I had solved a world’s riddle or chosen the right name for my first-born child. “Ah, you’ll like it,” she said. I planned on it, since it cost an extra ten bucks. I looked forward to feeling the tension ooze out of my body through my feet. What girl gets to have citrus scrub on a Tuesday afternoon? I do, suckahs.
I closed my eyes as I started to ease my feet into the water, but a moment later yanked them back out. Why is this water a thousand degrees? Are they trying to scald my nails off? “Too hot?” the lady asked as she nodded up and down with vigor. If she was nodding, didn’t she already know the answer?
A bit of cold water later, the nail lady reaches for a Tupperware container with a strange orange substance that looked like gritty Gatorade. Ah, the citrus scrub. Things are looking up. At that very moment, I received a work phone call, my old office in a panic about a constable standing there with a subpoena demanding medical records. The lady nodded at me again as she smeared this orange salty goo on my legs.
I was in the middle of my conversation about subpoenas and court orders when the nail lady began grinding this gritty substance into my legs. My dear woman, you aren’t trying to get dried-on egg from a frying pan. These are my legs we’re dealing with. As she begins to rub the top layer off my shin off, my phone beeps in with a physician who wants to go over a bad patient encounter. A vague, orange-like smell rises to my nose. It’s like my five-year-old’s lip smacker in “raving raspberry” that smells nothing like an actual raspberry but instead some cloyingly sweet imitation that only kids (and consumers at Bath & Body Works, apparently) just love. And it was so bright I began to wonder if it might have been radioactive.
This lady is going to town rubbing fake orange salt into my legs – really putting her weight into it – while I’m trying to conduct business. Why is she focusing so much on my legs? Is she ever going to get to the toenails for goodness sakes?
I finally end my phone call and try to start editing a paper. But the television on the wall is showing a Lifetime movie about a skinny girl in a fat suit to show those mean country-club snobs how awful they are to the plus-size crowd. Just when I’m trying to fix a comma splice, the main character rips her fat suit off. How can I possibly not watch that?
The lady proceeds to slap hot towels on my legs (that now contain multiple abrasions from all the scrubbing), which burn like hell. She whips through the nails like it’s an afterthought and then tells me to wait under the dryer. I look outside with a sigh. What was once a beautiful sunny day has now turned into a downpour.
I pay my extra fee for such a fancy pedicure and hobble to the front door. “Come again!” the lady says to me. I reach down to touch my calf, only to realize the salt residue hasn’t been washed off and there’s a sticky substance remaining. It rubs against my jeans and I’m a bit grossed out. And annoyed. And wondering if I might get skin cancer from that toxic, possibly radioactive orange goo being involuntarily pressed through my epidermis.
I am beginning to think it was all one fat joke. “Did you see her face when I put on those hot towels?” the nail lady says to her cousin. “That’ll teach them to stay off their cell phones.” All the ladies double over with laughter as they turn up Lifetime television. One woman puts the orange gel back in its protective case, so it doesn’t harm the environment. And because left uncovered, it might kill everyone in the room that breaths in the toxic air.
And to think I paid extra to get something fancy. What a sucker.