I'd like to set the record straight: I am a large, hairy, tattooed man with a dadface that can level small import cars at 30 yards. I have scowled my way through some hairy situations with just a dirty T-shirt and the pure annealed anger I carry in the core of my soul like every other American male. I'm not telling you that to brag about my manliness; I'm telling you that so you understand I don't normally get pedicures.
I don't normally get pedicures.
But a father is a warrior.
My girl was feeling particularly flippity-floppity recently, and in the slump of a blue funk, talked her mom into therapeutic shopping.
We were tooling through the mall when the girls swerved mid-retail and lit out for the nail salon territories. And here's where I went wrong. I should have let them go. I was standing in front of a bar. I should have blown them a kiss and ordered scotch. Like a man. Instead, I said this: "You're just leaving me here?" And thus, the pivotal comedy relief montage in a father-daughter afternoon special was born-starring moi.
My pedicurist, Dorothy, attacked my feet as if they'd made her mad. With instruments. Then she tickled me. Then she went into the kitchen and got a cheese grater and a blowtorch and after a half-hour and a lot of cursing (I assume; it was all in Korean, but it did not sound poetic) she gave up and quit her job.
And here's where I made my next mistake. The angry woman kneeling at my feet asked me what color I wanted. Look, despite the foot attack, getting a pedicure is remarkably relaxing and I was sort of drifting at this point and just hooked a thumb over at my girl and said, "Whatever she gets."
In retrospect, this was not well considered. My daughter chose to paint my toenails THEY CAN NEVER SEE THIS AT FISHCAMP PINK.
With sparkly hearts.
It gets worse.
Who knew under the grime and the horny plates and wire I had pretty feet? I haven't seen them since 1998, and I was very, very surprised to see they'd made the difficult decision to change gender. Still, I embraced their supple pink glint and flip-flopped my way over to the manicure table where Dorothy gave me a lecture about hangnails and stabbed me in my palm.
Afterward, we dropped the girl off at school and went back to our lives. At first, I was sheepish. I was slightly embarrassed. I didn't know what to do with my new cute feet. When the plumber came to fix the sink, I made him wait on the porch in the cold while I frantically searched for something to cover my bejeweled pedatarsals. I met him wearing dirty gym shorts and a pair of $150 dress shoes.
Now I don't care. The Orkin guy was here this morning and I met him at the door fully Lebowskied. My toes beamed out from under my tattered robe, rosy beacons for ridicule, a cute version of "Do you feel lucky, punk?" Because trust me, they are provocative.
And to my various neighbors: If I shuffle out to get my paper just as you pass by with your man-purse dog and your triple macchiato and you try to iPhone my gorgeous peds, you better be packing. There is nothing more macho, nothing more rugged, nothing more Eastwood, than displaying one's decorous digits to the world after getting them done because your daughter needed it and the look on her face could melt diamonds. So go ahead. Say something.
These are not just painted toes, no. They are badges of extreme fathering. Not everything about being a great parent is dramatic and not everything is paint by numbers.
Sometimes, the things we do for love are pink and filled with glittery hearts.
Christopher lives in Chicago with his wife and kids and can also be found at deathbychildren.com.
See more of Christopher's stories here.