If You Can’t Be With the Toes You Love, Love the Toes You’re With
This is a story of a day where nothing really goes right and nothing really goes wrong.
I needed new glasses.
“What’s that Louisa?”
You will have to excuse my sister. She is always interrupting me.
“Yes Louisa, this is the pedicure day story.”
I have been wearing, bent up, Sponge Bob Square Pants bifocals at the office for the past ten years.
And every so often a person has to make that call and set up an appointment and get a new prescription, especially when that person is having a difficult time telling the difference between threes and eights and her job is all about reading numbers and her job does not exclude certain numbers, just because she is having difficulty reading them.
“Your eyes have changed quite a bit since your last visit,” says my doctor.
“A lot has changed since my last visit,” I answered.
“Wow,” says the guy named Joel. “You have very expensive taste, Millie Noe.”
“Thank you,” I said. “Like how expensive?”
“Like, those frames you are holding there are eleven hundred dollars,” he says.
I very carefully hung them back up.
Joel then assisted me in finding frames that were sort of like the pair I couldn’t afford. They were almost the same shape and they weren’t too much bigger and not at all the same color.
“I can order tortoise shell if you want.”
“Sounds good,” I said.
“They should be here in a couple of weeks.”
I paid for my new glasses and walked out the door.
That was six weeks ago.
I called to see if they were in after three weeks had passed.
“Hmm,” the girl says. “Your lenses are ready, but your frames aren’t here yet.”
“Is that normal?” I said.
“Well, they are coming from Denmark,” she says.
Threes and eights were beginning to look like zeros and nines. About the only number that really stood out anymore was a seven, although sevens were starting to look a lot like ones.
I called the place up again.
“Did you say you have been waiting six weeks for your glasses?” the lady says.
“Are you kidding me?”
This is what had happened. After the container ship coming from Denmark landed in New York, they were put on a train and shipped to Chicago. From Chicago they were sent on a Van Galder Bus to Rockford Illinois. In Rockford they were picked up by a Pizza Place and delivered to a house on the outskirts of town to someone who had ordered the super-duper-deluxe-combo-with-extra-cheese. It turned out that, that guy had a guest who was heading to Madison the following Tuesday for a business trip. He was going to be dropping of hair product to a nearby salon. So he said that he could drop my frames from Denmark off at the Eye Glass Store. But when he brought them in, they were just about to close and the girl on duty didn’t know who the hell they belonged to, so she just hung them up on the wall of frames, next to those eleven hundred dollar frames, because they looked a little bit alike.
“Yes, we are open tomorrow,” said the lady, apologizing a hundred times. “We will see you then.”
Actually the timing could not have been better.
“I’ll be there at three-thirty,” I said. “Right after our pedicures.”
My sister Louisa, just rolled her eyes at me.
“See, I told you this was the pedicure story,” I said.
I gave my Mom a pedicure for her birthday.
We haven’t had a pedicure together for a while due to a couple of mishaps on my mother’s part, like the time she went to spin the dial on her thermostat and somehow ended up with a broken tibia instead of turning down her heat. And on that other occasion when she went to the kitchen for a couple of cookies, but instead landed on the hardwood floor and broke a hip. This has made our pedicure days a distant memory.
Because really, who wants just one foot all gorgeous and sparkly if the other one is wearing a Herman Munster boot?
But after a couple of miraculous recoveries on my mother’s part, we were ready for a pedicure comeback.
I don’t mind rain.
I don’t mind wind.
And I don’t mind cold.
But I am not a big fan of these three things when they are all happening at once.
That is a monsoon.
And since we seemed to be having a monsoon on pedicure day we assumed that the shoe store wouldn’t be very busy.
But we were wrong.
The shoe store was very busy. I think because there was a monsoon.
I pulled up to the door and helped my mother inside the double doors.
“I’ll wait for you here,” she says, standing there with her cane, smiling sweetly.
I found a spot on the other side of town and parked my car. I carried her walker under my arm, head down against the pelting rain.
I walked inside and got stuck between the double doors.
I made it in.
I opened up her walker.
But my mother was not where I left her.
I found her over by the sandals.
Somehow in the frenzy of monsoon shoe shoppers we managed to get help. After several failed attempts, we found a pair of sandals and a pair of shoes that received her stamp of approval.
We went to get in the line.
Sons du les bitches.
There were two lines and they both went as far as the eye could see.
We had to get going.
You see. We had pedicures lined up.
Just as panic was setting in, our shoe saleswoman from heaven popped out of nowhere and took the boxes from us. She says, “I will put them on hold. You can pick them up later.”
That was perfect.
The shoe store place was only like a half hour out of our way.
I ran through the monsoon to the other end of town, got in my little black Kia and picked up my mother at the door.
We arrived at the salon with five minutes to spare.
Fortunately, they were running behind since it was prom, somewhere. And we got to wait awhile.
“Wow, this place has changed,” says my mom.
In the three years she was missing it has been redone. And they had new massage chairs in front of the tubs with jets.
“How nice,” said my mother. “This is much easier to get in since they swing out to the side.”
We were handed a glass of wine and the palettes of colors.
“You pick first, Mom. This is your gift,” I said.
She found a coral color named Infinite something or other.
I found a not coral color named On and On and On, or something.
It turned out the new massage chairs didn’t really give you a massage. When you pushed the button, any button on the control they all made it vibrate. Just like those beds they used to have in hotels where you stuck a quarter into a slot.
Does anyone even know what I am talking about?
But that was okay.
It was our pedicure day.
My stylist was ahead of Mom’s, because Mom’s stylist happened to be the prom queen of hair and she was still busy turning a beautiful teenager into a princess.
So my girl got started.
Ten minutes later, my mom’s girl makes it over to us.
A half an hour later I heard my mom say, “That color doesn’t look very coral.”
Her stylist stopped.
“You don’t like this color?”
“It just doesn’t look very coral. It’s not a warm color.”
“I can change it,” she says. “I have only done one toe.”
“No,” says my mom. “It’s okay.”
I looked at my toes.
My girl was painting the last baby toe, which is basically nothing more than dotting an I.
And I have to say, that dot was just about as coral as the rest of my toenails.
I guess I got the Infinitely something or other polish and my mom got the On and On and On something or other polish.
But that was okay.
She will have another pedicure, next summer.
At least it hadn’t stopped raining.
Through the windshield wipers we spotted the eye glass store. Unfortunately, it was not in the same strip mall that we were in.
Through the windshield wipers once again we saw the eyeglass store.
I parked in front of it, left the car running with the heat on high so that my mother’s feet didn’t get frostbite.
I returned with my glasses.
We drove to the shoe store.
There were still about a million people there. I got the same spot that I had the first time.
I ran through the monsoon and stood in a line.
I returned to the car with the heat on high.
My mom’s feet were kind of purple.
The color looked rather nice with her not very coral polish.
We drove through the rain to Lodi.
Louisa met us at the pizza place.
But she couldn’t have pizza with us. Because she had to go to work at the school for, Jazz Dinner Theatre. Because she is not like her sister, Millie.
Millie would have immediately come up with an answer like, “No.”
We all watched the rain come down out the window of the restaurant and a little girl who looked to be about twelve came to take our order.
We couldn’t remember the name of the IPA on tap.
The kid came back with cans of something.
We just looked at each other.
They were open, so.
They weren’t bad.
Louisa had a cranberry concoction and then took off to begin her wild night of complete boredom, standing around in the high school kitchen while Mom and I ate as much as we could of a ten inch deluxe pizza.
I might not be the best in math.
And I might not be the best judge of size.
But that was the biggest ten inches I have ever seen.
At the condo we put the leftovers in my mother’s fridge.
We turned on the fireplace and found some warm socks.
Then we admired her new shoes and new sandals and I read my emails with my new glasses, while Morrie Amsterdam, sat down in an empty shoe box.
“Don’t you think it’s kind of weird that Maxwelle Smarte isn’t hanging around us?” I said.
“Yeah, it is kind of weird,” she said.
“Did you hear that?” I said.
“I heard a weird noise.”
“It sounded like that time that Max got stuck behind the wall.”
Then we both heard it.
It was a muffled meow.
If I had to call Sven up and have him come over to cut another hole in my mother’s drywall, he was not going to be real happy.
We heard it again.
“It’s coming from over there,” she points toward the stairs.
I opened the adjacent closet door.
Maxwelle Smarte stepped out, stretched real long and deliberate and then walked into the living room and plopped down inside an empty shoebox that he didn’t fit in.
And that is how a story about a day where nothing really goes right and nothing really goes wrong, ends.
“Look Sven. I got my new glasses.”
“You look very … secretarial,” he says.
“What’s wrong with that?” he says.
Maybe it was the outfit.