What is your favourite Christmas present ever? I am lucky (and spoiled) enough to have several hundred favourites over the years.
Like my Lionel Rocket Launcher Train Set I got when I was 10, and the Cooper hockey pads when I was 12, and the leather coat Santa brought when I was 20.
And the 2008 Christmas we spent somewhere near the Bahamas on a cruise ship where my Rotten Kid (the daughter one) was performing and she gave me a shiny silver watch for Christmas without even knowing that back home before we left I had broken the watch I’d worn for, like, five years.
And this year my other Rotten Kid (the son one) gave me a guitar stand for my five old second-hand guitars and a super cool retro mini amplifier that runs on batteries and sits on the shelf or clips to your belt and sounds, like, awesome.
And it’s not always the expensive gifts that are the most special, of course.
The first year my Better Half and I dated (1875) she gave me a four-foot (17-metre) high, bright pink stuffed hippopotamus she made herself.
It was wearing a tutu on account of it was a replica of one of the dancing hippo cartoon characters in the Disney movie Fantasia. Obviously, I wasn’t going to let that one go (the girl, not the hippo).
One year my sister Hedy gave me a full-on, surprisingly accurate miniature drumset that has a clock on the bass drum and plays a nice loud tune when you set it as an alarm clock.
And of course myself and one of my reprobate friends who shall remain nameless (Kirk) have exchanged clever, dumb, outrageous, hilarious or just plain baffling gifts every year since about 1970.
Those are always among the favourite Christmas gifts to receive, and to give.
And just this year, the daughter Rotten Kid gave me, among many other precious items, a package of actual mousetraps.
Not for mice mind you, she would never allow the harming of any animal, rodents included.
I’m hanging two on my wall for decoration, and placing two on my desk (which will be loaded, just for fun).
Apparently the poor girl has the same sense of humour as her old man.
All of which brings me to the one burning question that I feel compelled to ask of all the readers of the male species out there: “When was the last time you had a pedicure?”
Or perhaps I should put it another way: “You’d never in a million years go for a pedicure, would you?”
Those of you who have already stopped reading on account of you think I’m talking about something unspeakably dark and deviant will never know what I’m on about because you’ve stopped reading.
So it probably won’t help to mention that I actually got the gift of a professional pedicure the Christmas before this one and it took me almost exactly one year to get up the gumption to go for it.
The BH, who is not only thoughtful and generous, but also happened to be tired of me complaining about how much I hated cutting my toenails and going on (only partly in jest) about how I was going to get a pedicure.
And if the topic of cutting toenails is a source of queasiness for you, you too have probably already stopped reading.
So for the three people still hanging in there, let me assure you that in spite of the ewwww factor this is a story that ends with what comedian Steve Martin used to call “happy feet.”
But before we go any further down this queasy road, let’s firstly and foremostly define what a ‘pedicure’ actually is. By formal definition a ‘pedicure,’ from the Latin ‘ped,’ meaning ‘bicycle’ and the Greek ‘cure’ meaning ‘to ride’ obviously has nothing to do with its modern meaning, which is ‘to get your toe nails clipped.’
And so I was armed with this vast knowledge when my BH called my bluff and gave me a gift certificate for a local ‘spa’ for what I at first thought had something to do with riding a bicycle.
Just kidding, about the bicycle part, I knew it meant I was actually expected to waltz into some sort of sanatorium and plunk myself down in the midst of hordes of ladies getting their nails painted and their faces mudded and spritzed and massaged and heaven knows what else happens in those places.
The one thing I was pretty sure of was that it was going to be pretty embarrassing, and if I ever did go, it would be a secret that I would never ever divulge. Good thing only two readers are left now, because I am obviously in the process of blatant divulging.
Thing is, somehow over the years I have managed to morph into an unfortunate body shape and condition that does not allow even the basic grooming activities related to the old peds.
In other words, the “spare tire” I carry around as growing evidence of a sad propensity to enjoy fast food, and a bad back from decades of shoveling snow, tying my shoes, bending over, etc., combine to prevent me from reaching my own personal toes without much grunting, complaining and calling 911.
So I finally gave up and gave in, mainly because my gift certificate from Christmas 2012 was due to expire, and drove my feet and unclipped toe nails (ewww!) over to the fancy dancy spa, and with a deep breath and bravery only a man entering an alien land with possibly hostile inhabitants can contemplate,
I pulled open the artfully decorated door and threw myself at the mercy of a pack of armed estheticians, cosmeticians and manicurists.
What happened next surprised even Yours Truly, but then, of course I’m surprised at just about anything shiny. But I guess you’ll have to wait until next week’s column to find out what happened, and if and how an average guy can survive an actual pedicure.
Or maybe you got one for Christmas? I won’t tell if you don’t tell.
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.