For those reading my blog for the sole purpose of keeping track of our boys, I forewarn you that this particular posting is entirely about me! However, I had a day so worthy of forever capturing that I felt it essential to devote an entire posting to it.
It all began with a birthday card from my cousin Allison, in which she proclaimed my birthday gift to be a childless day of female fun, which would begin with my very first pedicure, include much shopping, and end with a trip to the Cheesecake Factory for dinner! I could hardly wait!
Saturday May 2, 2009 12:30pm. We arrive at the Portland Beauty School, and Allison checks us in for a “Spa Pedicure”. We are escorted back to our massage chairs, complete with whirlpool tubs for our feet. At this point, I am sort of overwhelmed by the whole experience, Vietnamese men and ladies scurrying about, cutting hair, giving manicures and pedicures, while teachers bustle around instructing the students on various tasks. The very first thing I notice is that the people getting pedicures are getting leg massages. Yikes. I hadn’t shaved ……..”Alright, I’m sure this isn’t the first time they’ve encountered scratchy legs”, I think to myself.
Allison selects a chair, rolls up her jeans, and relaxes into the inviting chair and whirlpool – clearly at ease. Now, as tomboy as I may sometimes appear, I assure you I am all girl –and the thought of such a relaxing and pampering treat was very exciting to me! So, following Allison’s lead, I too roll up my jeans, park myself into the chair right next to her, and stick my feet into the SCALDING HOT WHIRLPOOL!!!!!!!!!! YIKES!!! I quickly rip my feet out of the tub and glance over at Allison, relaxed and calm as a gentle stream……….the pedicurist busily working away on her feet.
You know those moments in time, where the world seems to stand still as images flash through your mind? Well, this is one of those moments. My mind rushes back to last summer. Jason and I were shooting with a few people from his work. Jared, the gun aficionado among them, had brought along his Ruger 44 Magnum Six Shooter …..a gun for the real man among men. When I saw Jared, who is quite a burly guy, shoot the gun – I observed how it not only made a sound worthy of a large bomb, but he nearly blew backwards each time he shot it. Now, as Jason can attest, I am the first one to jump right in beside him and try various new things, and I’m no longer shy of shooting guns. However, I was not about to shoot this one! That is until Lance’s wife Pam shot six successful rounds. I, being the only other woman there, now felt I had a duty to uphold. I’d love to say I was completely altruistic in my motives and acted only for my husband’s honor, but I had a fair amount of pride mixed in there as well! So, I took the revolver, shaking from the top of my head to the very tip of my toes, squeezed my eyes shut as tight as possible, and shot the six rounds. ….BANG….BANG….BANG…..BANG…..BANG……BANG. Done. Conquered. Jason could not have been more pleased, and it was well worth overcoming my fears.
So, here I am, back in the Beauty School, seated in my massage chair and looking into the pool of scalding water. My pedicurist has not yet come over, so it’s just me, my chair, and the whirlpool…….and Allison, as my example. “Well”, I tell myself, “if this is what women do to get a pedicure, then certainly I can too.” PLUNGE!! I thrust my feet back into the scalding pool. This time I hold them there. I envision them gasping for air as if I’m drowning them. I’m literally burning. Is this what the Bible is referring to when it discusses the Lake of Fire? Note to self: Make sure to stay on the straight and narrow so as to ensure I do not go to hell. I now feel like I’ve tasted a small piece and it’s not good. I feel like my feet are burning to a crisp and may indeed begin disintegrating at any time. Out they come, and I gingerly place my now very tender feet on the edge of the pool. Again, I look to Allison who says, “Wow, Ann. Mine’s really not that bad…….almost cold even”. That’s it. Back into the lake of fire. Generations of women have said it hurts to be beautiful, and I will get through this. If I can shoot a 44 Magnum Six Shooter and give birth to two children, soon to be three, I can do anything!!! Finally, the pain is beyond enduring and I rip them out once again. Allison’s pedicurist, who has been looking at me rather strangely, finally reaches over and sticks her hand in my whirlpool. She quickly rips it out, and says “Oh – It’s hot!” draining and refilling the tub. At this point, my mind is too numb to process the level of my stupidity. What perhaps I previously thought was my need to prove myself worthy of womanhood, I now realize was the ridiculous lengths we women will go to “fit in”.
At this point, my pedicurist – a young man, comes over and begins working on my tender toes, unaware of my incident with the scalding water. With each touch (poking, clipping, filing, cutting) I jerk with pain, and I know he thinks I’m odd. Finally, he says, “I should have picked her”, referring to Allison. Embarrassed for my outlandish stupidity in subjecting myself to the scalding pool, and not wanting Allison to think I am not enjoying my special birthday gift, I find myself once again appealing to my need to “fit in”, quelling my deep urge to run screaming from the salon. I silently endure the pain of the pokes and prods, with my jerking feet the only indication that I am not completely at ease. I carefully listen for the two pedicurists, sitting side by side, to say “Mi chang”, which my Vietnamese friend Khim told me means “white people” and is typically used when they are discussing you. I don’t hear it, so I feel somewhat relieved. All the while, I vow that I will never, EVER, return for a pedicure. This is torture of the cruelest kind! (I still haven’t really connected that the reason it is hurting so badly is due to the tender burnt skin he is now so skillfully abusing.)
However, at long last, my feet seem to normalize a bit, and the pedicurist begins with the massage, hot towel treatment, and oils. My experience now has turned completely around, and I am already scheming for when I can somehow justify my next spa pedicure. This is BLISS! I will be perfectly content if he rubs my feet and legs for the rest of the day, and I am not worried in the least about the fact that I didn’t shave! (Oh, how fickle the human mind! “Are my plans so fickle that I can say "Yes" and "No" at the same time?” 2 Corinthians 1:17…..“Professing to be wise, they were made fools.” Romans 1:22… I can almost hear God chuckling now. No wonder the Scriptures so commonly refer to us as sheep, the dumbest animal!)
Meanwhile, the tables have turned. The previously composed and relaxed Allison is now thrashing about in her chair, kicking away at the poor little Vietnamese woman who is attempting to massage her feet. “Ah, so we all have our weaknesses”, I smile to myself as I sit back, relaxed and calm – enjoying every bit of the attention. ("Before destruction the heart of a man is proud, but before honor is humility." Proverbs 18:12)
Finally, it’s time to choose our paint. I had decided I wanted a “French Pedicure”, which is the one with the little white strips across the top of your toes. I figured I couldn’t achieve this by myself at home, so I might as well try it once with someone who could……or so I thought. The man starts slapping away the white polish, seemingly wiping it across my toenails in such a manner that I am convinced that not only could I have done it better myself, but perhaps even my three year old could have done better. After he completes one foot, Allison glances over – looking a bit surprised and asks, “Um, do you like it?” “Oh, brother! What do I say now? No? I was actually just contemplating how quickly I could take off all of the polish as soon as I get home and repaint my toenails? It looks like a bird just relieved itself on my foot?” I finally settled on, “Yeah, um, it’s ok. Different than I thought…..” I imagine her disappointment in my experience and feel a little sad. Meanwhile, her toes are looking pretty, completely covered in a nice shade of deep pink. I’m wishing I had gone that route but am a bit embarrassed to tell the guy that I wish he would start over. (Alright, I'm humble now.)
Finally, by some miracle, he finishes both feet and then whips out another set of tools, beginning to correct and shape the white “blobs” on my toes. I’m now glad I have kept my tongue in check, not having blurted out my change of mind. He skillfully works away at my toes until they indeed look pretty and feminine, which I guess was the goal in the first place!
In the end, the pedicure was a one hour experience – including most all human emotions and sensory devices and many spiritual lessons along the way! It started in torture and ended in bliss. Would I want a ‘do-over’ of my first pedicure? NO WAY! It was all worth the story and the memories in the end! Allison and I die laughing nearly every time we replay it. Plus, my toes look fantastic! :-) Thanks, Allison!