Some strange things go down in the nail shop, but none so weird as sauntering in to get a pedicure and being seated next to a 6’ tall brother with like 80 tattoos and his big ol’ hairy man feet soaking in the bubbling blue water. You know, there are only a handful of places where a woman can find some solace from the presence of men because, contrary to what they may think, we don’t want them in our space all the live long time.
I was thirsty for a little testosterone-free downtime myself but there he was, his long, lanky body scrunched into the seat like a baller in a preschool chair. He grinned a thousand-tooth smile while I settled in next to him, and it didn’t take him long to come in for the kill.
He opened with “you have some pretty feet,” leaning over real GQ-like. And that would’ve been OK if we were in a nightclub or a sports bar or a cookout in the park. But I was there doing my womanly due diligence and… so was he. I cut my eye and smiled a thank you.
We chatted, stopping here and there so he could direct the poor little Asian woman—who probably wished she’d followed her intuition to call in sick—around areas of his massive heel that needed buffed and scraped. I knew he was going to ask for my number. I felt it in the air. So before we got to that point, I ventured, “Why are you here?”
“What do you mean?” He darn near batted his lashes in doe-eyed cluelessness.
“I mean, why are you getting your feet done? Don’t most guys just slap some lotion and socks on them bad boys and keep it moving?”
I wouldn’t have asked the question if I thought he was going to take offense to it. I was feeling him out during the course of our conversation, so I was confident that I wasn’t going to get cussed out or pimp slapped with his strong backhand, him being so close to me and all. As I expected, he didn’t even frown or flinch. Instead, he laughed, flagged me like I was talking crazy and said, “I like my feet soft. Like my women.” He winked and let his eyes wander over my body. I wanted to slither into the footbath.
Overgroomed straight guys baffle me. I mean, when a man is clearly batting for the other team, I get it. My friend Mikey and I shop together and get pedis and manis and even stumbled upon a very competent eyebrow artist who doesn’t give everybody in the chair the same standard shape, which is more often than not the one and only shape they know how to do. But Mikey is gay so, although not all the dudes in the LGBT camp are into being fluffed and coiffed, it’s not nearly as off-putting if they do indulge. Straight guys waiting in line for the same service, on the other hand, confuse the crap out of me. And this satin-footed thug was really throwing me for a loop. Where are the lines between masculinity and femininity? I can’t hardly see them anymore.
Pretty boys used to be the handsome, Al B. Sure, Lance Gross, S-curl wearing type of fellas, the ones who looked like they should have a starburst gleaming next to their perfect teeth every time they smile. They were never really my thing, but I certainly don’t mind admiring them from afar. I like dudes who have a little roughness to them, football-without-a-helmet and basketball-without-a-shirt kind of guys. Men’s men. Dudes who fix stuff around the house (or at least try to) and tinker under the hood if the car is making a weird noise. But if they have a fresh mani with a clear coat of polish, they tend not to want to do that kind of stuff. Heck, I’m more rough and tumble than a lot of fellas out here nowadays. When a straight woman outbutches a straight man, that’s a mayday signal.
This whole metrosexual, extra super above and beyond male beautification has gone to places it never needed to go—like man makeup, colored contacts, male girdles (would that be mirdles?!), and (ugh) manscaping, which is just disturbing to my soul. I never, ever need to envision a hairy guy holding his bat and balls just so, one foot propped over the edge of the tub so he can whisk away his hair down there. (OK, I said I didn’t want the visual but I just gifted it to myself.) Hygiene or not, it’s way too dainty for my comfort.
That doesn’t mean I embrace dirt and funk. I love a clean, good-smelling man. I want him to take showers. I want him to cut his toenails more than three times a year. I want his dentist to not be intrigued and challenged by the spores and strange things fermenting in his mouth. But I also don’t want him to be so soft and pretty that we scramble to see who can get to the mirror first.
There does exist in man-world a middle ground between the under kempt and the flamboyantly overgroomed, but it seems to be fading away. Come back, oh ye days of old when dudes weren’t veneered and airbrushed. ‘Cause what I won’t do is try to figure out whose compact is whose or which tinted moisturizer I’m picking up in the morning—his or mine. I can’t. And thankfully, nobody’s asking me to. If that means I’m missing out on bonding time with my boo over his-and-her pedis at the neighborhood spa, that’s just a chance I’m willing to take.