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Getting a pedicure for love

Sep 7, 2017 By Clair McFarland

My aunt came to visit for the eclipse.

Now, my mom has furnished me with some awesome aunts. There's one who always encourages me - from within her tiny work boots - while she's shingling a roof or paving a road, or rerouting the Panama Canal.

There's also one who's full of motherly advice, and distance-running advice, and calculus advice. Seriously? How do you remember all this stuff?!

And there's one who loves eloquent food and tasty books. That's Aunt Linda.

The tales of Aunt Linda are many and varied, but mostly, I remember her as a walking bastion of attitude who liked to send me enigmatic old books for Christmas. And so she warped my development into a philosophical riddle.

Into that frenzied August she came, to behold our celestial wonder and, some time later, ruminate joyously over both it and a dish of chocolate mousse.

How anxious I was to break away from my four sons (although I'm in love with them) so that I could hang out with Aunt Linda! I waited for my mom to text details of my aunt's arrival.

What's the plan, Mom? Where will she be? The bookstore? The coffee shop? The back yard of a person who owns a plum tree?

Mom texted: "Hey, Clair! Aunt Linda's here, so we're all getting pedicures at the nail salon. We saved ya a seat!"

What.

I'm just gonna come right out and say it. I don't like to have my feet messed with - and they agree. I love the way they sprout fleshy layers of road-proof, heat-proof, emotion-proof protection on their soles, to temper the miles. They love it too, the way Darth Vader loves the cosmic scenery from within the Death Star.

The way I see it, if I'm supposed to dance this humorous waltz into my own grave, I might as well do it on a pair of armor-plated feet.

But Aunt Linda was getting a pedicure, and she had saved me a seat.

I've done more dramatic things than this in the name of interesting conversation: I once spent three weeks learning how to play pool so that I might have one conversation with a guy who rode motorcycle with Hunter Thompson. Only, now I really like pool, and I no longer enjoy Hunter Thompson.

(Nobody really enjoys Hunter Thompson anyway, they just fear and loathe him with extreme satisfaction.)

"I'm going out for a pedicure, honey."

The Husband shot a look to the heavens that said "oh no, she's finally cracked."

"Really. I am going. Aunt Linda's there, and I'm gonna ask her why she sent me 'The Canterville Ghost' when I was 11."

"You're really gonna ask her? You think she'll even remember? That was, like, a long time ago."

I shot him the sanest smile I've got.

"Nah, she'll remember."

"The Canterville Ghost" is a book by Oscar Wilde. It is both inspiring and hilarious, and its having arrived in the mail that Christmas is probably the reason I have a library full of dead, 19th century humorists today. I have their books in there, too.

In fact, "The Canterville Ghost" is a great read for anyone whose feet may be shredded in the name of familial affection.

I walked right into that nail salon, smiled at all the ladies, and plunked myself down, feet-first, next to my aunt.

There was some small talk, because certain people have informed me that "what are you reading?" is not a good rendition of "how are you?" no matter who my audience is.

While Aunt Linda and I chatted, the pedicurist snuck up on me, holding a cheese grater.

My mom and sisters broke into salty grins and leaned forward to see if I'd crumble into Joker-style monologue at the sight of the torture device.

"Oh, please don't file away my callouses," I said. "I like them."

The pedicurist took away the torture device. I exhaled. Only it sounded like a hiss.

Aunt Linda began telling me about a gang of vigilante women who congregate within her Kindle...

"Aack! AACK! They're whittling my soul!"

"Mercy, Clair! It's just a na-il fowl. You'll be fiiiiine honey."

Oklahoma accents can be very comforting. I made peace with the nail file. And the cuticle trimmers. And the exfoliating leg gel.

Next, the pedicurist started painting.

"Oh, so pretty," said my Aunt Linda.

"My nails?"

"My library! You'll have to come see it some day," she said, reclining deeper into her chair. "Very natural."

"Your library is?"

"Your na-ils!"

Oh. My nails had been carved out of their armor and painted clear and white, in the name of looking natural.

Of all the jokes we women like to play on our selves and the world, going through discomfort in the name of looking "natural" is one of our best.

In fact, it's right up there with not saying what's on our minds, and feeding our husbands kale soup for dinner because they bought our children air horns.

"Aunt Linda," I finally asked, "Why did you send me 'The Canterville Ghost' for Christmas when I was 11?"

In response to the question, she turned to me, raised her Oklahoma eyebrows, and said "Well I just have no idea! I guess I just like books!"

That's good enough for me. Time well spent, feet.

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2017-09-24