Humor Non-Fiction posted July 29, 2016

This work has reached the exceptional level
An excerpt from my 2007 annual family Christmas letter

My Professional Pedicure Nightmare

by Mary Wakeford

Strap yourself in. I am about to share #984567 from a catalog of my most embarrassing moments. It began with the suggestion from my daughter for a shared pedicure experience on her 19th birthday.

The experience was going great until I noticed my day old panties in a wad on the floor of the salon, next to my shoes.

Yes, you read that correctly. My FOOOOOOKING underwear ended up on the salon floor. The familiar brand catching my eye as it lay prone in a bundle next to the rubber thongs I ditched before hoisting myself into the oversized, pleather vibrating pedi-chair forty minutes into FunDay, while my precious pigs were being held hostage in a tub of warm, bacteria-laced water, under house arrest by a petite Vietnamese ninja.

Before I get into the details of the outing of my underoo's, I feel compelled to offer background into the evolution of the word 'thong'. During my formative years, otherwise known as the 60's, the word 'thong' was the universal moniker in describing a scant summer shoe consisting of a rubber sole with two straps that begin at a point between the big and second toes, are held loosely around both sides of the foot by a Y-shaped strap or thong, and secured by a three point rubber plug system.

Thongs are inexpensive; come in a variety of colors, designs and materials, and are as familiar to Arizonan's as pricks on Cactus. For decades, they've held claim to being the preferred footwear for a majority of men, woman and children. They can be worn year round if so desired. They are also known to create a hydroplaning effect equivalent to the old "E" ticket rides at Disneyland when the rubber sole meets wet concrete. When that occurs, as it surely will on occasion, one prays for a soft landing and clean underwear because you may end up unconscious in an emergency room depending on landing skills following the involuntary lift off.

Sometime between my childhood and my children becoming prepubescent, the word thong was stricken from any association to the ever popular footwear, and reassigned exclusively to a style of women's underwear that can only be described as scant and seemingly uncomfortable--qualities completely contrary to shoe thongs that are delightfully comfortable and carefree. I cannot personally attest to the 'slippery when wet' aspect as it relates to fabric thongs vs. rubber thongs.

I failed to receive the Cease and Desist notification that, according to my kids,  announced the change in definition that took place sometime in the early 1990's. My obvious lack of knowledge concerning the change would come to 'bare' while in the presence of my pre-teen daughters and teenage sons each time I unknowingly embarrassed them with outbursts such as "Will you please put your thongs where they belong so I don't trip over them"; "The dog ate your brand new thongs again"; "Damn, the cement is hot, can you run and get me my thongs please." and on occasion, the rare and emotional "Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I nearly killed myself when my thong slipped on the wet sidewalk," You get the drift.

Our house was a pulsating hub for our four children and their friends throughout their growing years. When my thong outbursts took place in the presence of their friends, or worse, during shopping excursions among complete strangers; e.g., "Oh my goodness, leather thongs are on sale! I'm going to buy your dad a couple of pairs!" or "Do you think these thongs look good on your mama, or do they make my feet look big?" From the looks on their faces, you would have thought I depants'd a manikin in their presence.

Come to think of it, I did that once to claim the last size 6 from a department store manikin. It was awkward trying to undress, then redress the skinny yet heavy plaster waif into a skinnier size 4 Capri pant without an assist from my mortified, then AWOL daughter who departed the Macy's department store the second my take-down commenced. I eventually found her recovering in a Starbuck's coffee shop, settling her nerves over a caramel Frappuccino. Good thing the manikin wasn't wearing thong undies or she might have drawn up parental emancipation documents right there on the spot.

There is something delightful in witnessing mortified and exasperated expressions on your own pimply faced, dental braced, prepubescent teenagers. It is a priceless gift that the universe every so often rewards for the sleep kids suck from us throughout their transformation to adulthood.

Some fifteen years later, a bitch called Karma caught up with me for embarrassing my kids.

I'm pretty sure I nailed their contorted expressions of embarrassment when KarmaHoChiminh came calling inside a Nail and Pedi Salon the time my 'dirty laundry' appeared on a salon floor, label side up, forty minutes into a professional pedicure. Horrified might better describe my expression.

The date was February 19th 2007. You might wonder how I remember that was my daughter's 19th birthday. "Starbuck's Kate" was a junior in college and had just returned from an early shift at the golf course.  I was cleaning the house for her family birthday celebration that evening. On the fly, she suggested doing something fun together in celebration of me popping her out of myself nearly two decades earlier. My treat. I reluctantly agreed, while conflicted with the thought cleaning the toilets seemed more productive, and less expensive.  I was clad in Levi's, a crappy tee-shirt, and tennis shoes.  I was also a professional pedicure virgin at the tender age of fifty-one.

I was quickly schooled by my enthusiastic daughter on the ABC's of princess primping. The mother/daughter celebratory funday would require a wardrobe change. I was advised to lose the Levi's for a pair of sweat pants allowing easy access  of my legs into a large tank of bubbling warm water to be cleaned and massaged. I was already having second thoughts. I hadn't shaved my legs in days. Okay, weeks. It was winter.  Strangers 'feeling up' my legs...Dear God, no.

I 'bare' to point out that my four kids enjoyed a much different teenage life than their mom. I did not attend the highly regaled high school equivalent to the Academy Awards, known as the prom and homecoming formals. In the 70's, the dances were held in the high school gymnasium vs. fancy hotel ballrooms. Teens in the 70's wore modest (no cleavage) cotton formals hot off their mothers' Singer Slant 6 sewing machines. Limousines of the day were reserved strictly for high-end weddings and dead-end funerals. Acrylic nails were yet to be invented. Pedicures were a luxury known of only through watching ZsaZsa Gabor's extravagant lifestyle on the Green Acres sitcom. I admit to being more taken by "Ahrnollt" the pig, than Lisa Douglas's pedicured toes.

Crepe paper streamers and tissue flowers strung along recessed wooden bleachers greeted the attending Bruin revelers, or so I heard. Plastic tablecloths, cookies and fruit punch, inevitably spiked with a bottle of Thunderbird smuggled in by a student at some point during the evening, played out the scene in the 1970's.

Limousines, acrylic nails, pedicures, hair, makeup, pre-prom dinners at fancy-pants restaurants, $200 tux rentals, slinky skin hugging gowns that likely garaged, for lack of a better term, fabric thongs under folds of voluminous silky fabric. The proms my kids' attended would have necessitated a second mortgage on the family home in the 70's.

The thought of plopping my 'pigs' in vats of warm water carrying micro-organisms that could invade my toenails and require amputation made 
natural childbirth nineteen years earlier more enticing. Kate also advised me to lose the tennis shoes for a pair of 'flip-flops', those objects previously known as thongs, so as not to smear the pretty polish following the primping.

Heeding her instructions, I ran to my closet following a quick shave tub-side to rid my legs of the dreaded five o'month shadow. The unplanned scalping cut into my prep time and her repeated "We have to hurry, mom's" were messing with my clarity as I reluctantly grabbed my only pair of roll-up sweat pants which happened to be in the dirty clothes hamper. I rationalized I had only worn them for 'a bit' the previous day. Once they passed the sniff test, I jumped into them, then clamored for a matching pair of thongs. I ran to the car while misting myself with Febreze, just in case the Pine-Sol fumes had compromised my "ra-odor" gun.

As soon as I hit the garage, Kate began gunning the engine of her Camry, a move meant to inspire a faster pace to the car. I nearly lost my 'shat' when my thongs met a puddle of rain water on the cement driveway. I suspect if not for Arizona's year round arid climate and limited rainfall, we would top the nation's statistics in broken bones and concussions resulting from unintentional liftoff's while clad in thongs. The rubber kind, of course. Get your mind out of the gutter!

Ten minutes later we arrived at Sparkle Nails and Toes. I paid for our pruning session with four Andrew Jackson's before we were led to our temporary thrones at the far end of the salon. Katie posted up first.   I followed her lead, leaving my thongs (rubber kind) next to hers on the marble floor. It was apparent from the get-go, we were the darlings of the hour. The two petite foot ninja's began working side by side in a flurry below us, removing callouses and whatever else they do. I didn't spot any carp swimming in the water, so my tension level subsided a tadpole.

I had the sense something was 'up' when the two women reverted to their native tongue within five minutes of operation foot scrub, and broke out in laughter seemingly directed at my daughter and me. I'd be lying if I told you I wasn't a little taken back by what I considered overt rudeness, so when our eyes met, I gave them both a stern "I know you are talking crap about us, knock it off" stink eye. They immediately defused the situation sputtering 'Yu sooo praty", "Yu like spaaakles?" and finally, "yu too yung to be he mata." The tactic worked for a second, then the snickering continued between sessions of involuntary Rosetta Stone Vietnamese language emersion classes.

By now, the entire salon of hoof and nail technicians were engaged in the banter with eyes trained on the mother/daughter duo. It was obvious something was up. I glanced toward my daughter for confirmation of my suspicion, but she was thoroughly engrossed in the latest rag magazine for inquiring minds. So much for bonding over pedicures. The 'up' turned fugly-ugly forty minutes later.

As the throng of foreign banter spread like Agent Orange throughout the salon, then included clients held hostage by raging emery boards and snippety acrylic nail clippers as they joined the passive aggressive amusement, obviously having been filled in by their own nail techs and privy to the freak show that was us atop the pedi-perches. I was beginning to consider Kate and I sported unusual genetic toe jam as my discomfort level continued to soar. Pets on Parade had nothing on us.

Short of trying to communicate discreetly with Kate about the situation over the hum of the vibrating massage chairs and out of earshot of the two women working our toe jam, I could see she was on her second magazine; engrossed, and oblivious to the freak show that was us. I could have been done with the floors by now if I had just stayed home. I opted to ignore the curious and rude behavior toward us and Took Jesus's lead. I turned the other cheek, literally.

The change in scenery drew my eyes to our thongs, side by side on the floor below. I got a little sentimental reminiscing about Kate's first pair of Buster Brown high top walkers. It seemed like just yesterday. Where had the time gone? It was during this moment of reflection I caught sight of an object plopped next to my right thong that seemed eerily recognizable, yet oddly out of place.

My mind swirled as I focused on the white cotton lump laying prone on the shiny floor. Then it hit me, in all their glory, there laid yesterday's big girl panties. "OH FOOOOOOK!"

My hampered panties apparently jumped for freedom when I hiked up my elastic banded pant leg to scale the mood enhancing, vibrating magic chair. The realization Kate and I were the only ones in the dark about their illegal bail out set in. The ninjas were obviously all over it from the get go, and ran with the story. In retrospect, I may have misinterpreted the "Yu sooo praty" for "Yu loos panty?"

Karma had arrived on a rickshaw and delivered me a gut punch that was palpable all the way from Saigon, seizing redemption for the years of thong embarrassment I unwittingly thrust upon my teenagers.

The ever familiar JOCKEY label appeared to mock me as I stared in disbelief and embarrassment at the unsettling situation on the floor.

My choice was to ignore, or to not ignore the white flag of surrender posed at full attention on the tile floor. As I pondered my predicament, the "Pants on the Floor" song lyrics cycled through my head...

"Pants on the ground, Pants on the ground
Looking like a fool with yo pants on the ground
With yo gold in yo mouth
Hat turned sideways, pants hit the ground
Call yourself a cool cat, lookin like a fool
Walking downtown with your pants on the ground." 

Karma snickered.

Following several minutes of denial, hoping I was (a) either in a nightmare from which I would soon awaken, or (b) the shop used rags that greatly resembled my cotton crotch reinforced underoos; I eventually came to face the harsh deduction that (a) was not possible, and (b) was looking highly unlikely as well. I whispered to Katie my predicament. Her response was an immediate jaw dropping, eye popping WTF, followed by uncontrollable laughter and a few snorts. The ninja's at our feet, likely capable of hearing mice pee on cotton from a hundred yards out, were all ears awaiting my next move.

Being a master at denial and a beacon of hope in dire situations, I established property confiscation confirmation with the toe geishas to be sure the down'd Jockey was not, in fact, a shop rag. I received a resounding response to my inquiring mind..."No, no, no, honey, we ne'er us undapanz as wags!"

For the climax, every set of eyes in my little shop of horror experience were again fixed and dilated on the mother/daughter duo as I snatched my feet from the pool of bubbling bacteria, and alit from my two foot perch. I landed hard, deep pocketed my gallivanting panties with a quick swoop and jumped back in the chair for the conclusion of my personal paint job hoping no one would notice. It was likely my most athletic event of the year.

I settled in with the cotton pickin' granny pants safely harbored as my daughter continued to laugh uncontrollably. My complexion matched the fire engine red polish being applied to my pigs, a few now sporting dust fibers from the long jump event.   The salon buzzed once again with the song of their people..."How WOOOOOOOOD!" - rude.

February 19, 2007 will go down as the date for my first, and my last, professional pedicure. If I am unable to paint my own pigs, they are going commando.

Story of the Month contest entry


Author's Notes:

-Sharing the experience that evening at my daughter's party and the laughter it created among my family is a favorite memory. My oldest son suggested through gasping and hysterical laughter, that he would have created a scene, demanding to know why there were a pair of dirty damn underwear on the floor, followed by "What kind of an establishment is this?" before storming out the door.

Vietnamese language as I imagined it went down:

Houy ing ya meeng fu whan che zit nau buay ghu ji mung fo do re mi fa so la ti do

Oh my God, that lady's underwear rolled out of her pants and landed on the floor right next to her shoes and she has no idea that just happened! SPREAD THE WORD!! hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahaha

The "tadpole" reference was intended; a play on words, if you will, in follow up to the carp in the water.

-"Pants On The Ground" lyrics by Larry Pratt
Pants on the ground
Pants on the ground
Looking like a fool with yo pants on the ground
With yo gold in yo mouth
Hat turned sideways, pants hit the ground
Call yourself a cool cat, lookin like a fool
Walking downtown with your pants on the ground
Get it up, hey, get your pants off the ground
Walking, talking with your pants on the ground
Get it up, hey, get your pants on the ground
Looking like a fool with your pants on the ground
Gold in your mouth
Hat turned sideways
Call yourself a cool cat, yeah, looking like a fool
Walking, talking, with your pants on the ground
Boom, boom, pants on the ground
Looking like a fool with your pants on the ground
With your gold in your mouth
Hat turned sideways, pants hit the ground
Call yourself a cool cat

-Video: Comedian Angelah Johnson courtesy of YouTube.

A special call out to Ideasaregems, Dawn Munro, for responding to my inquiry in the wee hours for directions on how to upload a video into a work. BAM, all the way from Canada, Dawn responded with step-by-step instructions. Amazing!

Image compilation compliments of Google search

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© Copyright 2018. Mary Wakeford All rights reserved. Registered copyright with FanStory.
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