A Few Foot Notes

By Chris Erskine
Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES ~ I was thinking the other day, while I was getting my toes done, that I need to get out of Los Angeles before it’s too late, before I start frequenting spas or doing picnics at the Hollywood Bowl on a regular basis. In about five years, L.A. is destined to become the first unisex city in America. As it is, they’ve got poor Joe Torre doing ads for green tea.

And I want no part of that. A real nation has two political parties and two distinct sexes, Sacha Baron Cohen not withstanding.

“Isn’t this fun, Daddy?” my daughter says.

Can columns jump the shark? This one has. I am in some froufrou Pasadena nail salon with my daughter, cashing in on the Father’s Day gift she gave me, a gift certificate for a full-bore pedicure. I shrugged it off for weeks after I got it, figuring it for a joke.

“How’s tomorrow afternoon?” the little girl asked.

“Huh?”

“For the pedicure,” she said.

“Um, I have a meeting.”

“How about Wednesday?”

When she’d set up an appointment, I’d break it. Like most teenagers, my daughter has no idea exactly what her father does for a living, so it’s easy to fool her into thinking I have lots of important meetings.

“Ten a.m. Tuesday,” she finally said – a statement, not a question.

“OK,” I said, sensing tears.

So now I am in some pink and white nail salon in Old Pasadena. By the way, I don’t know why they call parts of it Old Pasadena. From what I can tell, the entire city looks like Rome.

“Other foot,” the nice foot therapist is saying.

“Do you serve ice cream here?” I ask.

She giggles.

“Because this looks like the sort of place that should serve ice cream,” I say.

And it does. It has Lucite shelves and counters. It is very clean. Maybe it’s a hospital.

“Do you take Medicare?” I ask.

She giggles again.

Seems clear I’m not going to get a straight answer out of the foot therapist. She is fixated on my feet, which is flattering. My wife, Posh, won’t even look at my feet. When we’re spooning in bed and my feet touch hers, she gets the willies, as if she just stepped on a possum. An hour in the shower and she is back.

Truth is, I have the face of a 12-year-old and Moses’ feet. These little piggies have a million miles on them, and that’s just from going to the fridge and back for beer.

They are a man’s feet, the colour of whiskey. Gnarly, notched with scars and calluses. Some places appear to have been burned with a blowtorch. The big toe on the starboard side looks like it’s growing a nose.

And, honestly, my feet might be my nicest feature.

Booted, these feet have pushed over tree stumps, kick-started horses and motorcycles. Naked, these feet have stepped on catfish, scampered over barnacled boulders, collected 10,000 splinters on docks from here to Long Island. I swear, you could build a nice oak desk just from the splinters currently in my feet.

So maybe they deserve a little pampering. Best as I can recall, no one has ever touched these feet before today, except for the obstetrician on the day I was born. And the poor salesman, on the rare occasion – every five years or so – when I buy new shoes.

“Have you ever seen such beautiful feet?” I ask my daughter.

“No, Dad,” she says, not looking up from her fashion magazine.

“Each toe a little pearl.”

“Right, Dad.”

“You’re lucky you have my feet,” I say.

“Shhhuuuuuush,” she says, shushing me dead.

These are the things we do for our kids. We wake up every morning for 40 years and go off to work. We wait up for them at night, hold them when they cry, feed them soup when they are lovesick.

I have indulged every kind of trend, technology, rock group, hair style and cosmetic idiocy my teenagers have thrown my way.

I have said yes more than I have said no.

And now I am in a Pasadena nail salon, making the ultimate sacrifice. My first and final pedicure.

“Lavender?” the foot stylist says, holding up tubes of scented cream.

“Do you have root beer?” I ask.

“No,” she says.

“Because I really like root beer.”

“I have peach?” the foot stylist says.

Please help me God.

Erskine can be reached at chris.Erskine@latimes.com.

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