In 1967, when I was twenty years old and on my way to Europe to max-out my Eurail pass, I stayed briefly in Folkestone, England on the white cliffs of Dover with a great-aunt, my grandmother’s sister. She was seventy-five at the time, only two years older than the age I am now. I remember how shocked I was to learn that she had to go to a podiatrist to get her toenails cut. What? She can’t cut her own toenails? In those days, our own young boomer bodies were invincible, strong, and capable of doing whatever we demanded. Hah! Not any more.
Now that we’re unable to access salons for our regular mani-pedi, I’m discovering what my Aunt Em already knew all those years ago. Our joints and muscles just don’t respond like they used to and getting down there to trim and, if we’re particularly ambitious, to paint our toenails, is becoming increasingly difficult.
Shortly after I retired sixteen years ago (!!) I had both hips replaced, one year apart. I recovered quickly and was thrilled with my new mobility and the absence of pain. Thank heaven for universal health care. But time is catching up with me. Flexing those joints is no longer easy. And, probably, my sedentary, doing-a-lot-of-reading lifestyle isn’t helping. When my daily walk became too painful to endure, I discovered I was operating with a broken hip, which I covered in a previous blog, Hip, hip, hooray!.
After more than a year in lockdown wearing an assortment of yoga pants and tee shirts, attention to my personal appearance has taken a terrible beating. No bra; no makeup; no jewelry; no regular hair appointments. Who cares? But one day, this will end and once again we will have to start paying attention to how we look. That ramp-up will require some planning and considerable effort. Pretty shoes will have to be dusted off and feet will once again become part of our beauty routine. Summer sandals require regular pedicures.
I miss the nail salon’s warm, scented foot bath, the foot and leg massage, and even the cheese grater they use to sand off the rough bits. It’s all a distant, memory. I never even started getting pedicures until I was in my fifties and now I can’t live without them. I’m worried my first trip to the nail salon will resemble the scene in Dumb & Dumber where Lloyd and Harry are attended to in the nail salon with bolt cutters, and industrial grinders.
All of this is horribly embarrassing to admit, especially when I have friends who can turn their bodies into a pretzel thanks to months of increasingly challenging yoga exercises. My friend Terry can stand on her head—unassisted! And, she’s almost as old as I am. I can barely hoist myself out of my La-Z-girl without assistance after binge-watching Catastrophe. And, I can’t even reach my own toes.
I emailed Ontario Premier Rob Ford during an earlier lockdown last year asking for information about when hair salons would reopen as my highlights hadn’t been touched up for months, and heard nothing back. So, I’m not confident a follow-up email about my toenail situation would garner any kind of sympathy or immediate response. I might be inclined to ask a COVID-masked girlfriend to trim my hair, but not my toenails. We do have boundaries.
This lockdown better end soon or I’ll be tripping over my own feet, and allowing that to happen to an animal is deemed cruelty. We humans deserve to be treated just as compassionately, or my shoes will no longer fit. There’s going to be a stampede at local hair and nail salons the minute they open. I wonder if Aunt Em’s podiatrist is still alive and makes house calls? Is it just me, or are you pedi-challenged too?