A pedicure can address a multitude of issues ... for men as well as women.
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I have discovered what may be the perfect antidote to the attacks of "the world has gone mad" that arise from time to time, leaving me restless, irritable, discontent, utterly disgusted with millions of people and uninterested in putting those feelings into words. A paralyzed pundit is not a happy person.
The solution? A one-hour pedicure followed by a manicure, applied in a skillful, caring manner.
My most recent mani-pedi came on the heels of the sham Trump impeachment trial in the United States Senate and the Democrats' Iowa caucus embarrassment at the hands of a faulty app. (Puns acknowledged.) Sometimes, a guy's just gotta get away.
What better escape than a place where no one ever - ever - discusses politics or fantasy football? My escape place is located near Middletown, N.Y. I am one of about a dozen male customers, according to the proprietor. I have personally seen another man getting a pedicure or manicure at least four different times when I've been there. And yes, each time it made me feel more comfortable with myself, with my fragile "manhood" I guess. See, Bob, you're not the only one.
To say that I was self-conscious and felt awkward on my first mani-pedi experience (at a different establishment) would be an understatement. I didn't know what to expect. I didn't know what to do. I didn't even know what to ask for. How much do I tip? My partner took care of all that.
She told the salon worker what we wanted and closely guided her through the whole process. Get those ugly nails in shape. Get rid of the calluses. Use the grinder on the tough nails. Be careful of the heel cracks. No color.
I sat and watched. I fairly quickly stopped wondering what the women in the shop (there were no men) were thinking about me and concentrated on enjoying what was happening to me.
So this is why they come here, I thought. This is great. Why don't more men do this?
In turns out, more men are. According to recent surveys, once they overcome the initial uncomfortableness, more men (especially younger men) are discovering the many benefits of mani/pedis and becoming repeat customers. But bucking stereotype takes a while.
"It's the best kept secret in the world!" proclaimed Tony as he burst into the salon on a recent visit and saw me sitting in a chair with my feet in the warm water, sipping on my hot coffee. One guy to another: "Hey, best thing ever, right?" Right. (Still secretly glad to have some male company.) "I try to get my buddies to do it," he says, "but they don't listen."
Tony's a union guy who wears work boots all week. He says his wife and three daughters kept telling him to go get a pedicure. He finally did and loved it. He also gets his eyebrows waxed. He's comfortable here, obviously a regular. "It's so relaxing," he says.
It sure is. But it's more than that. It's also a self-care way of paying attention to parts of the body that a lot of men, me included, tend to ignore. The feet. The toenails. Finger nails. A good mani-pedi should leave you feeling clean and neat and relaxed. I often say I feel a little lighter. Some may think of it as a little self-indulgent, but I think I'm worth it and I feel better every time.
For the uninitiated male reader wondering what to expect from a pedicure, don't worry. Ask your partner or good female friend to recommend a place. The process is pretty much the same every time, depending on the condition of your feet and nails. You sit in a massage chair (a bonus), roll up your pants, put your feet in warm water and relax as a (hopefully) skilled technician clips your nails neatly, trims cuticles, shapes the nails, removes dead skin and anything else hiding between your toes and files down those calluses. She will buff and peel and trim and grind until your feet are smoother than they've probably ever been.