I do prefer playing in the dirt to just about any girly kind of thing. Spending two hours in a chair getting my hair did and paying upwards of a hundred dollars to do it seems like a total waste to me – of time and money. I can find a lot of more fun and productive ways to spend those resources. But I do like to get a pedicure. I’m not worried about a manicure. It never lasts very long, I can’t stand chipped nail polish, and I use my fingernails like tools. But a pedicure; that’s a different story. It’s not even about the toenail polish. Keep it. Just let me soak my tired old dogs in that hot water and give me that massage and wrap my legs in those moist, steamy, towels. That’s what I’m paying for. It’s so relaxing. I don’t let my stress out of my body. I hold it all in so I’ll take a massage any day of the week.
I only do this every once in a while as a treat and I usually do this with a friend because we can engage in some girl talk while we drink our wine and get our tootsies all pampered up. It’s a whole thing – the experience. So a few weeks ago when my friend called me up and asked me to go I said, “What time?” It had been a while since I’d indulged myself in this kind of luxury so I was all in.
We’d gotten our pedicures and sat in the drying chairs and because we hadn’t gotten together in quite a long time we got lost in conversation. We talked about everything from the kids she’s fostering to our jobs to our husbands to our daydreams of giving up the ball and chain of the timeclock in favor of some ridiculous form of self-employment that allows us to simultaneously earn loads of money while laying on a beach sipping Mai Tais brought to us on silver platters.
My phone rang and as I looked down at the number I could feel the panic rising. My heart was pounding and I could feel the perspiration creeping up my back. My mind raced. Trying to maintain my composure and hide my panic from my friend, I answer the phone. “Hey, whatcha doin’? Are you on your way home?”, came the voice of Lanky Brit on the other end. “No, we got caught up talkin’. I’ll be home in about thirty minutes, though.” In his usually pleasant cheery voice he says, “No worries, just don’t forget about the cat food. See ya soon.”
My friend and I wrap up our conversation and I head into the grocery store next door. Still panicked I practically run through the grocery store to grab what I need. Scanning all the checkouts I pick the shortest line. Yes! It only has one person in it. Price check! I stand there as patiently impatient as possible, now sweating. What kind of greeting will I get when I get home? Will I get a greeting at all? Am I going to get yelled at for being an hour later than I said I might be? Will I get the silent treatment for three days? Will I say the wrong thing? Will I look the wrong way? Will this get ugly?
Finally the person in front of me is finished and I step up to the cashier. She’s pleasant and friendly. Too friendly for a bag of cat food. I’m pleasant in return but in my head I’m thinking, “yeah, yeah, just ring up the damn food, I don’t have time for conversation”. I’m acting like a crazy person. If he’s pissed he’s already pissed and making myself crazy isn’t going to change that. Still, I rush to my car and speed away.
I head down the highway speeding home to try to minimize the lateness as if that will make any difference whatsoever. I go over what I’m going to say when I get home. “I’m sorry I’m late, I know I told you I’d be home around seven. We haven’t seen each other for a while so we had a lot of catching up to do. We didn’t realize it was already seven-thirty when the phone rang.” My mind is going ninety-to-nothing.
I arrive home, take a few deep breaths, try to calm myself, and hurry in the door. He meets me at the door, wraps his arms around me, and says, “Hey, I missed you today. Let me see your toes. Ooh, red. Those look great. Tea’s ready, let’s eat. I’m glad you’re home.”
Tears fill my eyes, I am undone, and he has absolutely no idea why.
Sometimes it’s hard to leave the past where it belongs. When I don’t he reminds me why my present is so much better.