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I don't know what came over me that day - an instant of weakness after years of resistance, I suppose.
My beaming spouse leads me, a dog on a short leash, into the forbidden citadel, the sanctum sanctorum of feminine fastidiousness, the dreaded nail salon.
As we pass through the portal, we enter another dimension, one not of Man.
One of Woman.
Overwhelmed by estrogen, like Superman in the presence of Kryptonite, my strength saps.
The harpies in the salon immediately sense fresh meat, hailing my wife like Caesar in a Roman triumph, gleeful in the knowledge of the barbaric sacrifice to follow. Lightheaded, my eyes dart around, a trapped beast seeking escape.
The sacrificial altar is prepared. The torture device is like a dentist's chair, but with a tub for the feet, presumably where they will drain out my blood. Resigned to my fate, I mount the gallows.
Glancing around, it seems that all the employees are Southeast Asians. Mostly young. Reputedly, they own this territory, like Indians in convenience stores or Italian greengrocers. My personal tormentor is the proprietor, a slim pretty Vietnamese woman perhaps in her mid 50's, with cold eyes and a professional smile.
I immediately sense that I am dealing with She Who Must Be Obeyed. I am commanded in that bossy Asian way to put my feet in the tub, as she turns on the water. Apparently, like some feminine droit du seigneur, Dragon Lady reserves the right to draw first blood from pedicure virgins. My primae noctis, so to speak.
As she sits below me and leans forward to grab my feet, I get a good look at her well-formed cleavage. Maybe this won't be so bad,after all...
As my feet soak, I close my eyes and sink into a Felliniesque fantasy, surrounded by Asian houris garbed in short white Grecian gowns, catering to my manly whims.
I'm getting a semi...
Dragon Lady brings me back to reality, placing my left foot on her toweled workspace.
There's another guy here...
and that SOB is getting a manicure from one of my girlfriends!
An older lady enters the shop. She has an experienced and well-traveled look. Obviously a repeat offender, she immediately begins apologizing to Dragon Lady for her tardiness, meanwhile sizing me up like a slab of man-meat. Dragon Lady gives her a proper scolding, then the horny old biddy tweaks my big toe and flashes me a knowing smile. I wonder if she is packing heat in that big purse...
Suddenly, I become William Holden in Sunset Boulevard. As I make a break for freedom, I am plugged in the back by the scorned Gloria Swanson lookalike.
Then, a cold look from Dragon Lady and my spouse re-establishes territory and Gloria backs off.
Dragon Lady looks pleased as she draws out what appear to be farrier's tools for shoeing horses, presumably to work on my virgin toenails, which I admit are heading toward Fu Manchu territory. A pair of evil-looking wire cutters makes short work of my talons, then she pulls out a chisel and begins removing layers of yellowed nail until they are smooth and white.
Nice. I can take this.
Then she removes the cuticles and pushes back the skin.
Holy crap! I think she just popped my cherry! I see blood on my big toenail. I take it like a man. A bead of sweat runs down my brow.
She finishes the flaying job, puts the foot back into the soothing bath and begins carving up the other one.
"And women pay for this?", I think.
"You like massage?", she asks.
"Massage?" I glance at my spouse nervously, wondering if she intuits the direction of my thoughts.
She points to the control panel on the chair.
"Why, yes. Yes I would!", I reply.
Anything to take my mind off my pending amputation.
"All the way?"
I suppress my licentious thoughts.
"Warp seven, Mr. Sulu."
"To infinity, and beyond!"
She got that one, and turns on the machine. Robocop immediately digs deeply into my neck and spine with his titanium-steel fingers, plowing my vertebral column like a John Deere cultivator. My central nervous system releases a flood of endorphins. The cocktail of pain and pleasure is a masochist's wet dream.
The surgery going on downstairs dissolves into the background...
Dragon Lady puts the second foot back in the tub and removes the first. She pulls out a big cheese grater and goes to work on the bottom of my foot. I don't have thick calluses, but she produces a pretty respectable pile of Parmigiano. Makes short shrift on foot two. My smooth feet now look like a baby's.
Not too bad, not too bad.
My spouse shoots me the old Told You So look and smiles.
Dragon Lady now pulls out the pumice for the final polish. As she goes to work on my foot, nerve endings now exposed after many years return me to infancy.
It tickles! Oh Momma, does it tickle!
I'm giggling like a young girl. I can't stop, and I really don't want to either. The entire salon joins in my giggle fest.
Dragon Lady doesn't let up for a second. She is giggling too, and for the first time I see the young, innocent Vietnamese girl buried deep inside.
Then I see the napalm and burnt village.
And all the rest of it...
I see and she sees. We each have seen... too much.
She smiles sadly. As do I.
My next appointment is in a month
I'll be there.
September 11, 2014
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