MY PAYDAY PEDICURE
I am a straight man who likes to get a pedicure every now and then.
Before you start making all sorts of assumptions about my masculinity, or my sexual orientation, let me make a few things clear. First, I don't get pedicures every week, or even every month. And second, I have never gotten my toenails painted with any sort of polish - not even clear.
I know most American guys do not share my fondness for hanging out in nail salons. And that is their loss. A good pedicure can be just as relaxing and therapeutic as a massage and, with the right pedicurist, it can be a total turn-on!
A female colleague of mine recently complained about her husband's penchant for pedicures, and I was confused and dismayed by her protestations. Why is it okay for young women in this country to go to strip clubs, or smoke cigars but a guy getting a manicure or a pedicure is still looked upon as strange? This is all part of a sexual double standard that exists in this country, wherein woman are encouraged to push the boundaries of their sexuality, while men remain trapped in strict, dogmatic gender roles.
I've lived in New York City all of my adult life, and I really wouldn't want to live anywhere else. You can pretty much do whatever you want in New York, and nobody gives it a second thought, or gives you a second look. New Yorkers have seen it all -- and done it all -- so nothing is really too big of a deal.
I'm sure that if I lived somewhere in the deep South -- let's say Alabama -- and I walked into the local nail salon with my shaved head, people might look at me all funny-like. Not too long ago, Southerners used to invite guys like me to what was known as a "necktie party." That's why I don't live in Alabama. Actually there are many reasons I don't live in Alabama, but one big one is, I don't want to go in for a mani/pedi and come out with a noose around my neck, being dragged from the back of a pickup truck.
In certain parts of New York, there are just as many guys as there are girls at the nail salon. I live on the border of two Manhattan neighborhoods: the West Village and Chelsea. Outside of San Francisco, this part of New York is just about the gayest place in the country. The Stonewall Club - recognized as the birthplace of the struggle for gay civil rights - is just one of the many openly gay bars and clubs within walking distance of my apartment.
I have never been to any of these bars, but I like knowing that they are there. I enjoy living in a place where people of all orientations feel comfortable, safe and accepted. Yes, constantly getting hit on by gay men can sometimes be a burden. And yes, of course, I wish that straight women would hit on me as much as gay men do (or at all, for that matter). But hey, at least I know that somebody finds me attractive.
The fact is, you can't live in a predominatly gay neighborhood and not pick up some of what might be thought of as gay behavior. I'm not talking about sexual proclivities; it's more about issues of style and personal grooming. Remember the show is called Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, not Queer anything else.
The trend known as metrosexuality has nothing to do with sexual orientation. It's about vanity - plain and simple. Young men today understand that the better they look, the sharper they dress and the longer they retain their appearance of youth, the better their life will be - in the workplace and in the bedroom.
For me, getting a pedicure every month or so has nothing to do with sexual orientation, or metrosexuality or even vanity. I don't get pedicures because I want to feel girly, or look pretty. I get them because I have certain persistent, painful calluses that are easily and efficiently removed with the pedicurist's scalpel. And because I enjoy sitting on a throne and being pampered by a woman kneeling before me.
Now tell me, how is that anything other than 100% straight?
I got paid yesterday afternoon at 1 p.m.. I immediately deposited my check at Citibank and by 1:15 p.m. I was sitting in the vibrating chair at my favorite nail salon - Bobo's Nails & Spa on 6th Avenue.
The nail salon business in New York City has traditionally been dominated by Asian women, but as they have become ubiquitous they have also become a bit attitude-y. I prefer the staff at Bobo's because they are primarily Hispanic.
The young women who work at Bobo's seem genuinely happy just to be in this country, and extremely appreciative of the opportunity to make some money. The Korean ladies at the salon two blocks south of Bobo's - and at others I have visited -- seem very angry to me, almost contemptuous! I don't want to sit there and feel like I have to apologize for getting the pedicure that I am paying for! That's just poor customer service, in my book.
There's something very regal about getting a pedicure. You sit on this high, throne-like chair and dip your feet into a warm, swirling pool. You can even make the chair vibrate in all sorts of different ways - if you're into that sort of thing. I'm not.
My pedicurist was a very friendly Hispanic woman named Amada. I think she was Guatemalan. I tried to ask her where she was from, but she just smiled and shook her head.
First, Amada removed my shoes and my socks. Then she rolled up the legs of my jeans so that they were above my knees.
Then she trimmed my hard-to-clip toenails with a pair of industrial strength nail clippers. They made that high-pitched clipping sound -- ping! ping! - as pieces of my body shot high into the air. It was like watching a fireworks display!
I'm sort of spoiled when it comes to toenail grooming. My mom clipped my toenails well into high school, until my guidance counselor strongly suggested that she stop. I think that is part of why I like to pay women to give me pedicures more than 20 years later. To some extent, getting a pedicure makes me feel loved, and taken care of, just like I did when I was a kid.
Paging Dr. Freud!
I have a terrible callous on the right side of my right foot. It has something to do with the way I walk or stand, I'm not really sure. All I know is, it hurts! One of the great things about a pedicure is that they will scrape that callous right off with a special razor. It's just like a cheese grater. When it's all done there's a big pile of me on the floor.
I bet it would taste great on a pizza bagel! Yummy.
Of course, the best part of the pedicure is the foot and leg massage. I love that that menthol-y smelling white cream that they cover me with. It feels like a plaster cast. Sometimes I imagine that it will harden and my pedicurist with sign it with a sharpie marker.
Like, Will - Next time watch out for that banana peel! Seriously, get well soon! Love Amada and the gang from Bobo's Nail Salon.
My only complaint about Bobo's is the selection of reading material. It's all women's magazines! Cosmo, Lucky, People, US Weekly. How sexist is that! Where's Sports Illustrated, or Wired or Maxim?
Memo to anybody who owns a nail salon: if you make guys feel comfortable and at home, you will reach twice as many potential customers. So why not subscribe to some sports magazines! Maybe the girls might even pick one up.
Every time I visit Bobo's I leave behind my copy of the New York Times sports section, for any other straight guys who might stop by for their payday pedicure.
Amada gave me a great pedicure and soon I was back at work, feeling refreshed, pampered and glad that I live in a city where nobody really cares about gender roles.
So here's my advice to the guys: start going to your local nail salon!
It might feel weird at first but think about it this way: where else can you be the only guy in a room full of girls who can't run away.
Am I a genius or what?