I can feel it. The days are getting warmer and longer. The traffic on Route One is getting worse. Memorial Day will soon be upon us and it’ll be time to break out the shorts and unearth all my summer shoes from the jumbled pile in the back of my closet. I sure hope the charcoal purifying bags I hung in there this winter helped keep the white powdery mildew in check and off my blue velvet espadrilles and Gucci loafers.
It’s also time for a fresh pedicure in preparation for all the al fresco cocktailing and beach lounging I anticipate this summer. One simply cannot, in good conscience, sport Jolly Roger needlepoint flip-flops with feet that resemble talons. Actually, maybe you can with that particular pair.…
Luckily, my feet are not particularly embarrassing. I do have a slight fungus, a yellowish discoloration, on one of my big toe nails. But after an hour of soaking, clipping, and filing by my regular pedicurist—Adam, at Bad Hair Day—it mostly goes away and my tootsies are just about ready for prime time. But first, I must paint them.
What? Yes, you heard me right. I paint my nails. Technically speaking, I don’t do the painting. Adam does. He’s an artist. I select the polish color or the image to be painted. But only for the two big toe nails. Doing them all would seem, well, a bit too much even for me.
It started off innocently enough about three years ago as a way to hide the toenail fungus, after several over-the-counter medicines and home remedies failed. Adam and I started off with a simple orange nail polish before moving on to orange and blue stripes in preparation for the college football season.
You do know that ancient Babylonian and Spartan soldiers painted their nails before going to war? Chinese, Egyptian, Incan, and French royalty did too. ‘Twas the manly thing to do back in the day.
Orange and blue nail polish didn’t help my Virginia Cavaliers very much as they suffered through several ugly losing seasons, but at least I felt I was doing my part as a fan by putting on my colors before battle.
Then came the tragedy of November of 2016, and the ushering in of vanity, hate, ignorance, and lies with the election of Donald Trump to the White House. When summer came around and it was time for my regular pedicure and paint job, I knew what I had to do.
Yes, I did. My big toes spelled it out in bold, eye-catching black and white nail polish. Actually, the verb was spelled correctly on my toe. It was a bit edgy, that’s for sure. Like street art, it had a sense of immediacy and accessibility. People loved it.
Emboldened, I asked Adam to get a bit more creative and the next couple of times he used imagery—a finger and an outline of Trump’s face and hair—instead of words to help me deliver my protest message. Again, it was a crowd pleaser, especially when I kicked off my loafers and strolled barefoot around swank cocktail parties.
Before heading off to Key West this winter, I asked Adam if he could paint a version of the crybaby Trump featured on the Trump baby balloon flying in protest when the president shows up at big events. Yes he could and yes he did. I flaunted the artwork all over the island and I can report that the majority of Key Westers appreciated the message and the creativity.
“Disrespectful,” one misguided gentleman clucked at me. My reply: “Doesn’t the president disrespect us every day with his vile words and lies?” A pedicure protest is the least I can do to express my disapproval of the con-man-der in chief.
My annual get-ready-for-summer pedicure appointment is just a few days away. I was thinking about changing things up—perhaps an orange and blue #1 in honor of UVA’s first basketball championship. That was until I heard the team wasn’t making a celebratory trip from Charlottesville to the White House. Good move fellas! I shall honor the team by continuing my personal pedicure protest against the circus peanut. I’m not sure what it’ll say this time around, but rest assured it won’t be nice. ▼
Rich Barnett is the author of The Discreet Charms of a Bourgeois Beach Town, and Fun with Dick and James.