Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Toe
She knows I'm teasing about sitting in front of the television because more than a year ago she borrowed it. I've always said that having her move out was not like losing a daughter, it was like gaining a lot of counter space that used to belong to my blender, toaster, and microwave. Whenever I go to her place I feel as if my kitchen appliances are all having a class reunion and forgot to invite me.
When she arrives at my place today I greet her with an affectionate, "I don't have any money," which makes her laugh. "Oh Dad," she chides, which I translate to mean "I don't care if you have money or not, I still love your credit cards."
"Let's go get pedicures!" she enthuses, as if this is something I would ever do under any circumstances. It's as if she has suggested we go to the mall and try on bras together. I picture what it would be like at the gym.
Big-bicep gym guy: Hey, your toes have polish on them.
Me: Yes, my daughter and I went bonding. It was either this or try on bras.
Big-bicep gym guy: Well, we're going to have to beat you up anyway.
Me: I know.
When I act out this realistic dialogue for my daughter, she scoffs. "You never go to the gym," she says, as if this were in any way relevant. "Besides, it will help you get in touch with your feminine side."
Women are always suggesting men do something that will help us get in touch with our feminine sides, but you never hear men suggesting women get in touch with their masculine sides by spitting or farting in an elevator or something.
"I do not want to get in touch with my feminine side, especially if it has shiny toes," I tell her.
My daughter can be really vicious when she doesn't get what she wants, so I'm not surprised when she gets nasty with me now, her eyes taking on a wounded look and her lip trembling a little. "Please?" she says softly.
"Absolutely not," I tell her.
At the nail salon, the estrogen in the air makes my eyes water. I sit in a soft chair, remove my shoes, and the pedicurist, an attractive woman of Asian extraction, gasps, covering her mouth in horror.
"Dad, don't you even look at your feet?" my daughter demands.
"Who looks at feet? They're all the way at the end of your legs," I protest.
A conversation between the pedicurists takes place in a dialect that I, with my ear for languages, recognize as Not English. The gist of it seems to be that someone with feet as ugly as mine cannot possibly have a feminine side. There's some discussion as to whether or not it would be better just to amputate. Several times I hear the word "Sasquatch."
The owner of the salon comes over to see why everyone is weeping and gestures them away with an impatient flick of her wrist. Pulling up a stool, she grimly grabs my left foot and begins kneading it with her strong fingers. I gasp in anticipated pain.
Okay, look: I'm a very manly man no matter what they say at the gym about me, but this whole pedicure thing feels wonderful. When she's done my feet are tingling, I've had a calf massage, and my toes positively twinkle. Energized, I decide to have salad for lunch and subscribe to a couple fashion magazines.
And best of all, my daughter and I have bonded over something I've always longed for: an activity that cost me less than a hundred dollars.