A couple of weeks ago I celebrated another year as a living thing upon this planet. I love birthdays, though I'm not sure why, anymore, except that I love being alive and it seems like I feel more and more alive all the time. Why not celebrate the miracle of existence with a smile?
My lover gave me three precious gifts, in addition to adoration and the attention Leos like me love to bask in: a new pair of panties, a new porn flick and a massage and pedicure at a fancy spa. Heaven! Now, I'm not much of a spa type person -- shi-shi crap makes me a little nervous, but holy mother of beezlebub, that was a damn fine massage. I'm still relaxed from it. And my toes are looking mighty fine, too.
The pedicurist (sounds dirty, but what else would he be called?) implored me to place my hands on his bent arm as I climbed into the soaking tub. I blushed. I do not have a habit of giving in to imploring men, especially when they are pale and weak looking, and with all of the muscle tone of a six-month-old. I relented and steadied myself on the soft veal cutlet that was an outstretched arm like some kind of accidental queen and at last settled in. There I was, situated primly on a pillowed stone bench, feet soaking in a white stone tub filled with hot and frothing, milky water.
The fact that a man whom I had never met was about to slave over my filthy dirty, disregarded, and much-abused toes felt awkward at first, and especially so when he bent his head down as if in prayer, revealing a bald patch in the middle of the burnt straw-colored weedy hair that was obviously struggling to survive in the drought-stricken field that was his scalp. Then, when he pushed his smeared metal-frame glasses higher on his nose, and began to scrub mightily with a tool sturdy enough for horse hooves, I felt like some kind of fraud, not a goddess at all. No, a goddess would have an entire team of toe scrubbers, not just one poor sap, who, while pleasant enough, was possibly one pedicure away from insanity. He pursed his thin lips and breathed cleanly through his small, crooked nose.
Color rose in his cheeks as he wiped the old, sloppy homespun polish from my nails. Was cleaning the dirt from my lumbering hooves the only thing on his mind, I wondered, as I flipped through a gossip magazine and listened to the fellow pedicure patient belching bits of gossip while perched on yellow silk pillows a couple of feet away. What is it about being touched by strangers that causes us to reveal the darkest underpinnings of ourselves? I held my tongue.
Then, time began to warp as I shamelessly gave in and began to love how it all felt, the way he scrubbed the filth of the past fifteen or so years from my feet. He smoothed my legs from toes to knees, as they floated in the soapy, swirling bath. I closed my eyes, let the gossip magazine slip from my sweaty, nervous hands, and left the rough, dirty earth behind. In a few breathless minutes, with nothing but his hands and a tiny scoop of coconut paste and crushed walnut shells, he managed to remove a decade or so of dead skin from the underpinnings of my soles.
He stroked my ankles and heels with sweet almond oil, dashed my heels with essence of lavender. He trimmed and filed and raked. He clipped and rasped and rearranged the marbles of my feet with the bones of his fist and the metal tools in his pockets, as if a lifetime of calluses is nothing but a segue.
Then, the bent man in a black apron wrapped my feet in hot blue towels and plastic bags and set me free. A few minutes later, he unwrapped the gift and inexplicably perfect toes appeared in his hands, perfect as pink shells, barely recognizable to me or anyone else, I’m sure.