In one of my favorite movies, Bull Durham, the character Crash Davis talks to a bunch of Double-A baseball players about spending twenty-one days in the “The Show,” their nickname for the Major Leagues. As part of the funny yet poignant scene, Crash tells his teammates, “I was in the Show for twenty-one days once. Twenty-one greatest days of my life.”
In mid-April, to celebrate my wife Kathy’s birthday, we went to a local establishment named “Escape Nails & Spa.” For the next ninety minutes, we indulged ourselves with a manicure/pedicure. As we were leaving to head home, I remembered the scene from Bull Durham and thought, “I had a Mani Pedi once. The best hour and a half of my life.”
Before I continue, I want to offer two items in the interest of full disclosure. First, this was not my first Mani Pedi. However, in the past I endured the process and, as a reward, received a half-hour massage after they finished with my hands and feet. Secondly, since we were celebrating a birthday, I made sure we got the “souped up” version. Purchasing the deluxe package may have skewed my perception of the experience.
Either way, I want to offer an account of the proceedings, a “Mani-Pedi Diary.”
The first step was to select our “scent” for the day. The number of choices was mind boggling. After sampling my options and peppering the endlessly patient staff with questions, I chose Sandalwood. The smell was more suitable to my male preferences than, say, pineapple, rose petals, or lilac. The woman in charge then led us to what looked like a dental chair, except this one had a wider seat, soft arm rests, and padding. Think of your living room recliner on steroids. Once settled, we lowered our feet into a basin filled with circulating hot water and were offered a beverage along with fresh fruit. I sipped green tea and experimented with the remote control for the chair. Before long, the built-in massage mechanism was repeatedly kneading my shoulders and lower neck. I closed my eyes and listened to the relaxing music—the kind played on those meditation apps.
A few minutes later, my individual manicurist, Tricia, arrived. Her first step was to add a glass of milk, orange slice, and fat slice of ginger to the water swirling around my feet. For a second, I remembered those old cartoons where the cannibals add vegetables and potatoes to the pot holding their tied-up hostages. The thought disappeared once Tricia went to work. After the obligatory nail cutting, scraping, and buffing with a little square block, she rubbed some Sandalwood cream into my soles and up my calves. She deftly worked the leg muscles, stretched out the toes, and pushed the tension out of the bottom of my feet. Once finished, Tricia wrapped my calves in hot towels and disappeared for a minute, returning with two plastic bags filled with a gooey-looking substance. Kathy told me this is paraffin, a wax designed to remove wrinkles, soften the skin, and add moisture. I later went on-line and learned paraffin is also good for people with joint-mobility issues, ailments like arthritis and fibromyalgia. Frankly, I don’t care about any of those reasons to use the stuff. When Tricia gently inserted my feet into the bags, the hot semi-liquid wrapped lovingly around them and, I swear, my eyes rolled inside my head. If I had been standing, my knees would have buckled. While the paraffin did whatever it’s designed to do, Tricia gave my calves ANOTHER massage. Oh … my … goodness. The experience had officially transitioned from pleasant outing to lower-leg heaven.
After a few more minutes of calf massage, the time came for the manicure portion of the day. As I approached the little chair and put my hand on the table, my body was heavy with disappointment. I figured Tricia would cut my nails, do some minor buffing, and send me on my way. I was confident the fun part was behind me.
I was wrong.
Things began pretty much as expected. Tricia efficiently tended to my nails, providing no indication of additional endeavors to come. However, before I knew it, she was spreading the Sandalwood cream along my forearms and expertly manipulating the kinks out of the muscles. After finishing, she did the same to my hands, and, incredibly, made my fingers relax. Okay, I’m thinking, this must all she has to offer.
After a trip to the back room, Tricia returned with two more bags of paraffin and inserted my hands into them. This, as a standalone act, was enough to lift me into a transcendent state. Then, however, Tricia exercised the coup d’état. While my hands were being cleansed, she circled behind me and administered a neck and shoulder massage. When she finished, I had a single thought—in her chosen field, Tricia possesses more discernable skills than your average mechanical engineer.
As we drove home, I was considering the concept of men pursuing a Mani Pedi. We are, after all, individuals who are conscious of how we appear through the eyes of our peers. Allow me to offer some simple advice—don’t worry about “getting your nails done.” Of the ninety minutes we were there, I estimate ten were spent tending to my fingernails and toenails. The analogy is the time you spend on your smartphone talking versus using apps or surfing the internet.
One more tip. Do not, under any circumstance, negotiate with someone in the immediate aftermath of the excursion. If I worked for the State Department and attended a meeting following my Mani Pedi, this conversation would have occurred:
Foreign Diplomat: “We want to annex your country.”
Me: “Sounds good. When do we start?”
The sheer enjoyment of our birthday date has me wondering what else women are doing when we guys aren’t around. What happens when they go out for a “glass of wine” or “Science Fair planning?” What secret, powerfully relaxing, and totally fulfilling activities are going on while I’m fishing, freezing in a duck blind, uselessly flailing around the golf course, or losing eighty bucks playing poker? Most importantly, what’s the deal with the neighborhood “Bunco” gatherings? Kathy attended these while the kids were growing up. Once a year, the husbands were invited to participate. We’d eat cheese and crackers, roll dice, and ring bells for a couple of hours. It was entertaining and good to see folks. However, I’m convinced these get-togethers were a smoke screen, a way for the women to hide what they were really doing on the first Tuesday of every month. Well, I’m not buying what they’re selling. Clearly, the ladies have the whole leisure thing figured out and have no plans to tell us what’s going on.
As for me, I intend to break the code. One birthday outing at a time.
Steven Rogers’ novel Into the Room is available in paperback and on Kindle. If you’d like to order a copy, please visit Amazon or his website: https://steven-rogers.com/
May News from Steve
Exciting news! “Into the Room” is the FIRST PLACE WINNER, Spiritual Fiction Category, for the 2022 Eric Hoffer Book Awards. The Eric Hoffer Book Awards honor the memory of the great American philosopher Eric Hoffer by highlighting salient writing, as well as the independent spirit of small publishers. Since its inception, the Hoffer has become one of the largest international book awards for small, academic, and independent presses.
You may have noticed I missed my column in early April. This is because we were finishing up the audiobook for “Into the Room.” The audiobook should be released and available through the Audible app and Amazon within the next month.
A special thanks to three groups who hosted me as a speaker in the last month: The Richmond, Virginia Dominion Energy Retirement Group, the “Bibles & Biscuits” breakfast for 3Wide Ministries in Richmond, and the senior’s group at Good Shepherd United Methodist Church in Henrico, Virginia. As you can probably tell, I enjoy discussing “Into the Room” with book clubs, reading groups, and individuals. If you or a group/individual you know is interested, please email me at email@example.com.
For $16 I will mail you a signed copy of the “Into the Room,” along with a personalized message, anywhere in the continental United States. If you’re purchasing the book as a gift, the inscription can be customized to address the recipient. For additional information, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please allow five to six days for delivery.
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Folks have asked how they can help promote “Into the Room.” If you’d like to assist, I’d love more reviews on Amazon and, of course, please “talk up” the book to others.