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
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
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
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
Christopher lives in Chicago with his wife and kids and can also be found at deathbychildren.com.
See more of Christopher's stories here.
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