Friday, May 24, 2013

My First Pedicure

 by Moe O'Brien

I walk into Regal Nails for my very first pedicure.  “Hipicolor” is the first word I hear.  I must look as confused as I feel.  The receptionist moves toward me, taking very tiny steps. Even with her baby steps, she appears to be running.  She taps her small hand on my arm and gently ushers me toward shelves, lined with little bottles of color.  I have learned from my travels abroad that one does not need to know the language to understand.  I get it.  She wants me to pick a color for my nails.   What she doesn’t know is that it took me two years to pick a color for my living room.   She scurries back to her desk, leaving me to ponder.  Choosing a Sherwin Williams paint chip is beginning to look easy.  This is crazy, right?  This paint is for my toes, which are always covered in socks and sneakers.  And anyway, it will fade away or grow out or whatever it does.

    After ten minutes of picking up the bottles and looking at the names, I simply cannot decide.  The name “fabulous” sounds good but it looks way too pink.   I walk back over to the receptionist and ask if I can look at what the other customers have chosen.  “Sure, sure,” she says as she walks me down a row of five customers, all in different stages of their pedicure.

    Very politely, I ask each customer if they would mind my checking out their color.  Everyone seems amenable to this.  One customer pipes up, “this is the color I always wear; it would look good on you.”  I look at her toes and wonder what slimy, algae filled pond she has been wading in.

    “Oh, thanks for the suggestion,” I say sheepishly.  “I was thinking more along the reddish pink or pinkish red family.”

    The last lady in line has her nose in a book.  No; that is an understatement.  She is not reading the book; she is breathing it.   She appears oblivious to anything going on around her.  As feet go, hers are very pretty with her nails painted a light coral color. I am so taken by her beautiful feet that I whisper, “You have lovely feet.”  I turn to the receptionist.  “That’s it.  I want her color.”

The Reader looks up at me.  I expect her to acknowledge my compliment.  Instead, in a deep guttural voice, she says, “It’s not a pinkish red.  Nor is it a reddish pink.  It is orange.” Obviously, she’s been paying attention.

     “Fair enough,” I respond.

      My pedicurist’s name tag says Lien.  She fills the tub with heated water and submerges both of my feet.  She sits on a low stool in front of me, her head and shoulders bent forward toward my feet, as if in submission.  I can’t help but think of Jesus, washing Mary Magdalene’s feet.   She wears no makeup.  She doesn’t need any.    Her black, shoulder length hair is straight and shiny.  Her wide, dark, eyes look up at me, as she says, “okay, other foot please.”      She does not wait for my response but instead, lifts the foot of her choice out of the water and begins to gently massage it.  This would be soothing if I wasn’t so ticklish.  She grabs some sort of bar that I don’t realize is sandpaper and scrubs the bottom of my feet. My body from head to toe jumps with every touch. “Tickle, yes?” she asks.

    There is a young boy sitting across from me.  I can’t take my eyes away from him.  His thin lips are pressed so tightly together, they seem to disappear.  His eyes are alert with concentration. They widen and narrow, as he looks up from the laptop that sits in front of him.  His fine, black brows go from furrowed to perfectly straight and serene.  He looks up every once in awhile and speaks in a melodic tone to a woman giving a pedicure two chairs down from me.  She turns to look at him and gives her response.   My guess is that she is his Mother, and from the tone of her voice, she has said ‘no.”  Then I watch the boy roll his eyes and I know I am right.

    He gets up from his laptop and walks over to her.  It is then that I realize how chubby he is.  And how beautiful.  His complexion is a mocha coffee combination and his full cheeks are a rosy pink.   All I can think of is Rubens portrait of his daughter Clara, that I had seen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Dear Lord, Mister Rubens…please come back and paint this little boy, I think.  I stop Lien from going further. “Please, I need to change my color.  Match my color to that little boys cheeks and I will be happy forever.”  

copyright 2013 by Moe O'Brien   

 Maureen “Moe” O’Brien moved from Bethel, CT to Myrtle Beach, SC in 1988.   Her “claim to fame” as she likes to phrase it, is that she played professional basketball, touring with the Harlem Globetrotters in 1959. She is an avid golfer and won the SC Senior Women’s Golf Championship in 1993 and 2004.  Her book “Who’s Got The Ball?  And Other Nagging Questions About Team Life”, was published in 1995.  It is a “how to” book for team members in all work environments.  Maureen is the proud Grandma of eight granddaughters, ranging in age from fifteen to twenty seven.

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