Fancy feet

I’m stereotypical.

I’m not ashamed to admit it. My views and my expectations of what a pedicure is like and the type of guys who get them might be a little skewed.

That’s just how I am.

But now, I guess I’m not ashamed to admit I am one of those guys.

As I received my first pedicure, the people at Happy Nail Salon were kind enough not to make fun of me … too much.

I had never really been pampered, never really been treated with such exquisite attention – let alone to my feet. I grew up with a generation that considers it OK for a guy to get a pedicure – but, oh, geez, he must be gay if he does. It’s not an opinion I agree with, it’s just what society sees.

But thanks to this trip, I don’t feel that way anymore. My experience broke the stereotypical mold surrounding the usual mindset that comes standard when guys get any kind of salon work.

As I walked into the place, people were staring at me enough to nearly send me running to the nearest sports bar, or any place that would have made me feel more manly. It didn’t help that I had a photographer with me.

I mean, realistically, the only time men need to work on their nails is when it’s dinner time and there’s dirt and grime under there. Yup, I’ve been there.

But this was different. My gangly, rug-rat monkey feet needed work – desperately. And they’ve never had any work done on them because I played soccer for many years and there was no need for it. There was no point to getting them clipped and cleaned when I had a game in the morning.

The salon staff sat me down in a chair and stuck my feet in a pool of warm, bubbly water. There was also a built-in back massager, so the whole thing was far more relaxing than far any experience I’ve had.

Sure, all the Asian employees were giggling at me and my hairy toes. Yeah, they made jokes in their native language about the strange faces I was making, but hey, it was worth it.

They clipped my nails, then buffed them to get rid of the cuticles. Then they lotioned up my legs and feet, and for 10 minutes I had my feet massaged by a woman who had stronger hands than last year’s arm-wrestling champion.

I was in heaven. Granted, it cost $20 to get a stranger to clean and touch my feet, but it was worth it.

Throughout the experience, some things felt great, others weird. While the foot rub – which I would take every day after spending 18 hours on them – felt great, the scrubbing of the bottom of my feet, with what felt like a hard rock, nearly made me kick the nail specialist in the face. There, I said it: I’m ticklish.

And at the end, I still had to be convinced to go all out. The stylist, her co-worker friend, another man getting a manicure – something I swear I’ll never get – the photographer, and of course my ever-supportive girlfriend, all had to convince me to get my toenails painted.

Luckily, I did not end up with pink, hot red or even the dark plum color the stylist jokingly suggested. She put on a clear coat as shiny as glass just to give them a nice touch.

My feet felt soft, as though I was walking on feathers. I didn’t want to put my feet on the ground for fear of ruining them.

The experience opened my eyes. It helped that there was a regular at the salon who was a man. It eased the thought that I had gotten myself into a bad situation.

It wasn’t. It made me realize a man getting a pedicure or a manicure isn’t totally an ego trip. It is a little bit, but sometimes it’s about comfort and maybe even a little about self-consciousness.

Perhaps men don’t want to admit they want to look and feel great, but sometimes they just want to be clean and not nasty. It’s same way they enjoy a hot shower after spending a weekend camping.

So I’m a little less stereotypical now. My salon barriers were broken down, and I’d get another pedicure.

Maybe next time I’ll consider getting my back waxed as well.