I don’t like to admit it, but there are times when–can I be honest?–I walk into a business establishment and I would really prefer that the employees were the same race as me. I’d just feel more comfortable, all right?

Well, okay, that has happened only one time, but it was last week. Fact is, I was already well along the road to getting through my whole life without having had a pedicure. I’d never felt any need for a pedicure. Or a manicure. Memory being what it is, I am not absolutely certain I even used a razor on myself on my wedding day. I did take a shower. I am, depending on how you look at it, a low-maintenance woman, or a woman of deplorable hygiene.

Cosmetically impaired, anyway. I keep clean. I didn’t always. When I was in college, I showered every day, but the washing machines cost 25 cents, and that put a hole in my pizza budget. I’d come home for the summer and both my mother and my trustworthy sister gently suggested I could use some deodorant, but I couldn’t smell myself, and I thought they were nuts, and besides it sounded like an Establishment position. Now I am in a city full of fine young people whose hoodies have never made it through the rinse cycle, and I’d like to say right now, Mommy? I’m sorry.

Point is, I hadn’t had a pedicure, and I figured I never would, but then a couple weeks ago Dave came home with an unreadable smile on his face, and our friend Vivi at his side. Vivi had talked Dave into having a pedicure with her. Vivi is a Brazilian/Swedish bombshell with a big heart and a big brain and big pretty much everything, and if Vivi had told Dave to walk off a cliff, we’d be scooping him up with a spatula right now. So Dave took his fifteen-mile-a-day feet and had them carved into near-original condition, and he was looking pretty pleased about it, too.

It all led to my friend Linda suggesting we could just go ahead and have a pedicure our own selves, to celebrate our successful eclipse-viewing. So we did.

There I was in a massage chair that had knead-knock-and-flap setting and rolling flesh-mashers and a particular rotating knob in the seat area that I was pretty sure I’d have to pay extra for, with my feet in a warm bath and a tiny woman on a stool below me, and I know it’s wrong to generalize, and it’s wrong to make assumptions, but I couldn’t help but think this woman–let’s call her Kim–had gone from being a cardiovascular surgeon in her native land to a leaky boat to this gray paradise, just to hunch over and scrape away at my 63 years of unmolested toe jam, and who would willingly do that? Besides Jesus, I mean.

Two young women sauntered in and sat nearby like they did this every week, and so did two older women, and all of them appeared to regard this state of affairs as routine maintenance without which they would not care to be seen in public. For the times they might want to be seen in private, a portion of the spa in the back was dedicated to even more personal services.

We’d been told to pick out a nail polish color, and I hovered over the sensible corals for a while, and then was drawn to something completely different, something that really stood out, on account of it being the only green in a sea of red and pink, and instead of thinking that this might be an unpopular color for a reason, I grabbed it. “Kim” did not react, but conversed with her colleague in her native cardiovascular-surgeon language, quiet as moth wings, and whatever she was saying, I was pretty sure I had it coming.

So here are my feet, all smooth and ridiculous.  I can see now that this is not a good color for toes. Not at all. In fact, the only reason anyone would have this color painted on her toenails is if it matched her bridesmaid dress. And she couldn’t see it past the puffy sleeves. I hope Kim got a big kick out of it. I owe her that.