I've noticed that manicure
and pedicure salons have spread like a foot fungus in Manhattan.
Last Sunday my friend Kim said: "Let's go to Bobo's for a
paraffin pedi." Translation: let's get our toes painted and
Also, the shops stay open until 10pm. So
there's no excuse. A few years ago you could get away with naked
toes and chalk it up to not having the time. But now, the only
excuse for not having a mani-pedi is having no hands or feet.
In London, getting one's nails done is still
a treat. In Manhattan, it's mandatory. The standards of grooming
are so high that it's no longer considered hygienic to walk around
without having had a manicure. The other day I was having lunch
with someone and she kept staring at my dirty fingernails. I felt
so self-conscious I was compelled to explain: "I've been
on a deadline." But she didn't seem impressed. So I added:
"Writing about global warming and the ozone." Nothing.
I could have told her I'd been building mud huts for orphans and
she'd respond: "There are 'express' manis, you know."
So I made an appointment. But as soon as
I got there I sensed a disease waiting to happen. The "cleaning"
job that took place between customers was essentially a quick
rinse of the basin with a spray of water and a nasty-looking rag.
That didn't do much to reassure me that I wouldn't be _soaking
in someone else's leftover callus shavings. Politely, I asked
the pedicurist if she wouldn't mind using a disinfectant. She
looked insulted and shouted back: "Don't worry!" I took
that as a no. I looked around. Row after row of vibrating chairs
filled with men. And they weren't gay, either. These were men
who looked like they'd sent their wives off to do the food shopping
and walk the baby while they took a little "me" time.
The most striking thing was that there was no shame. I remember
when a straight man wouldn't be caught dead getting a pedicure.
Now they hog all the good chairs.
A few weeks ago my friend Liza was set up
on a blind date and called the guy on his mobile to make a plan.
When he answered he said he'd have to call her back, he was in
the middle of getting his nails done. She wondered: "Do I
even want to go through with this?" A man not being able
to talk is one thing; a man not being able to talk because he's
getting a manicure is a deal-breaker. If a man goes to Bobo's,
you don't want to know about it.
Back to my pedicure. I was busy contemplating
all the diseases I could get from the nail utensils when I was
asked if I wanted the "spa" option.
I tried to figure out the difference between
that and a "regular", and from what I could tell, for
$30 more I could have my feet wrapped in a lukewarm washcloth.
The word "spa" shouldn't be connected to something you
can do at home for free.
After my toes were done, I felt obligated
to show them off. So even though it was 9C, I wore sandals to
dinner. But I didn't get very far.
By the time I'd got to the end of the block
I was limping; my feet were a wreck - blistered and bloody. So
not only had I undone all the benefits of the pedicure, now I
needed a podiatrist to heal the damage.