OK, so last week I was on about this gift certificate I got from the Better Half, the gift certificate that took me a year to swallow my pride, my prejudices and possibly my dentures and go to a spa, cash in the gift certificate and get what is known in the spa business as a ‘footie.’
Actually I made that last part up, although I think a ‘footie’ has something to do with Australian Rules Football. Be that as it may, I’m actually talking about what is rarely discussed in public circles or even public squares — the male pedicure.
Let’s face it, cutting one’s toenails, whether they be male or female toenails, is not a subject that one immediately gravitates to during your morning coffee, or any other time for that matter, so instead of dwelling on the fact that many of us abhor the act of self-pedicurification, let us spare our sensitive gag reflexes and go directly to the spa, shall we?
To be clear, I had never taken my toenails, or any other part of me into any type of spa before, so I was in truly alien territory when my peds and I stepped through the fancy glass doors and into the world I suspected would be populated by attack spa estheticians, cosmeticians and manicurists and scary super-rich ladies with green mud on their faces.
Instead, I was greeted like royalty in a pleasant, calm and tasteful room fit for royalty.
Soft music wafted through the air on the wings of agreeable aromas.
White leather couches and glass coffee tables cuddled around a white fireplace. And get this: of the three attractive young ladies at the reception area, not a single one suppressed a giggle or a snicker when I handed in my gift certificate and mentioned the word “pedicure.” Nobody rolled their eyes, and no one grabbed their phone to text: “Hey Brittany, guess what?! We got a guy in here who wants a PEDICURE! OMG! LOL!”
But that’s because they are spa professionals, I think to myself, trained to not embarrass the customers. Besides, I continue thinking to myself, at these prices they’d be gracious and welcoming if a horse clopped in asking for a pedicure.
One of the greeters takes my coat, another directs me to the comfy couch in the waiting area, a third asks me if I would like a lovely glass of flavoured water. I’m starting to relax already. I wonder what flavour the water is, I’ve always just had water flavoured water, but then, I’ve never been to a spa before.
It’s lemony. And that’s not all. A spa lady soon appears with a tray of large plump juicy strawberries and nice dark chocolates. I resist the urge to fill my pockets, and fill my face instead. And after two lovely lemony sips of flavoured water, one of the reception spa girls calls my name and accompanies me up some lovely dimly lit stairs where I will meet my official pedicurist.
I enter a room that looks like a cross between the bridge of the Star Trek Enterprise and an ad for the Presidential Suite at a Fairmont Hotel.
Tasteful warm light set at just above muted, another white glowing flittering fireplace in front of a row of humongous soft fluffy leather chairs that look like five people could curl up in each one of them. And below each massive chair, a glowing miniature bathtub of translucent plexiglass, changing colours from orange to blue, steaming hot water gurgling and swirling away in there.
Like a little hot tub for cats, or as I joyfully come to the realization, a little personal spa for your very own feet.
“This is Emma,” the girl says (although I’ve used a pseudonym, since her real name was Sydney), and an attractive young lady with jet black hair and attractive jet black attire shakes my hand, smiles a thousand-watt smile and points to the chair in the middle. It’s as if she’s actually given male pedicures before!
There are only two other customers in the room this early afternoon. Two 20-something females from out of town, in for a something called a “spa day,” as I find out from my professional scale eavesdropping. But they ignore me and don’t even seem to care that I’m a trespasser of the male gender.
And as I settle into the leather cloud-chair, Emma removes my socks (which I had thoughtfully made sure were unusually fresh and clean that very morning), and lowers my feet into the little swirling hot tub, and I know I’ve landed in a little slice of heaven.
“I will activate the massage chair so you can relax for 10 or 15 minutes,” Emma says. “Would you like a warm blanket and a warm neck pillow?”
Are you kidding me?
“And what kind of aroma would you like in your water?” she says.
It felt like an hour; it felt like five minutes, it felt like someone was rolling every single muscle with a whole bunch of fist-sized rolling pins that pushed a prodded, sometimes in the strangest places.
Whoa! Look out!
But it was all good, and all the while the tired old feet up to their ankles, hot tubbing it, having a foot party.
And then Emma comes in, turns down the magic chair, warms up the foot water and makes sure my blankie is nice and warm, too, and she pulls my feet out of the water and begins, the ‘cure’ part of the ‘pedi.’
This too is comforting and relaxing, and not at all embarrassing on account of Emma assures me that some days there are more guys than girls here getting pedicures, and that “I would be surprised at how many guys get their feet done.”
I am surprised at this.
She cuts and buffs and scrapes under my nails with a scary file (which hurts more than I thought it would, but I’m a guy and guys are much more sensitive about things like that), and then the best part — a lovely foot massage with nice scratchy mud stuff that smells like peppermints.
It’s around about then that another lady comes by with a tray containing small crystal glasses full of probiotic yogurt, with a little lid on top that turns out to be a delicious cookie.
“I’m coming here every single day,” I say to Emma.
She just smiles and says, “All the guys say that.”
And then she adds: “Would you like a soothing hand massage?”
I bought another gift certificate on the way out.
Harley Hay is a local freelance writer, award-winning author, filmmaker and musician. His column appears on Saturdays in the Advocate. His books can be found at Chapters, Coles and Sunworks in Red Deer.