How Am I Doing? Look at My Toes

Don’t judge me when I say this … but I could easily get addicted to pedicures.

Now, for you men who are reading this, this is not just a girl thing.  Any guy who has had a pedicure before will tell you he’ll be back for more.  And any woman will tell you, we wish you would get them more often.

That sound of Velcro as your heels hit the sheets is not as endearing as you might think.

Before my husband died, I had had one pedicure in my entire life.  I am usually not embarrassed to say that I’m a late bloomer in most areas, but the fact that I hit my 30s without ever getting my feet buffed and polished is just shameful.  Once he was gone, if you listened closely, you could hear my tires screech to a halt at the sight of that one, magical word.


I’ve often said I’m surprised that during the first year without him, my toenails didn’t just surrender and fall off.  If I had a spare 45 minutes without my kids, you would find me in a chair, feet soaking, contemplating if I just wanted to vibrate or if the day was bad enough that I needed the back roller.

In fact, I once joked during a speech that you could tell my mental state by the condition of my toes.  If they looked chipped and raggedy, you’d know that I was doing well.  If you could look at my feet and see your reflection, you’d know that my next call would be to my therapist.

I haven’t treated myself to a pedicure in the longest time.  I just haven’t had time.  But I finally made the time recently and with the first whiff of cuticle oil and polish…it suddenly hit me why I was there so often that first year.

Getting a pedicure is a luxury.  It’s not like when you go in to get your hair done…that’s necessary.  It’s not even like when you go in to get a massage because that usually indicates that you have a knot somewhere that won’t go away without some 100 lb. girl putting 200 lbs. of pressure on a spot that will have you biting that headrest you’re smearing your make-up all over.

A pedicure is, in most cases, completely unnecessary.  I used to think that my attraction to getting my feet “did” was because at a time in my life when I couldn’t make any decisions…I could choose a color for my toenails and feel like I’d accomplished something.  And if I didn’t like my decision, I could go back the very next day and get it changed.

There are very few decisions in life that can be changed with a cotton ball and some alcohol.  So that was a big comfort.

When I walked into the nail salon the other day, I almost teared up.  It was like I had finally made it back to the mothership.  No kids asking me for a cup of ice, no crushed ice, Mom.  No email pinging.  And, thankfully (and who would ever have thought I would be thankful for this), not one person in there cared about my day.

In most nail salons, they don’t talk to you.  They don’t even ask you how you’re doing and if they do, I don’t think they really expect you to answer.  Any place else you go…the grocery store, the mall, even the hair salon…they’ll ask you how you’re doing and expect the perfunctory “I’m fine” because don’t want to hear, “Well, my dog pooped all over my house, the school bus never showed up this morning, and I spent the better part of my day trying to get my late husband’s name off my caller ID.”

When you walk into the nail salon, you say what you want to have done, and all they say is “pick a color” while they fill up a warm basin of water.

Ohhhh…the colors.  I know that my dream job would be to write for the Onion some day, but on the weekends I’d like to moonlight as a Polish-Namer for O.P.I.  Not-So-Bora-Bor-ing Pink.  I’m Not Really A Waitress.  Baby It’s Coal Outside.

What a risk-taker I feel like when I walk out with toes that have been temporarily named “Hooker in a Red Dress”!

I feel embarrassed to admit this, but I once quit going to a very nice nail salon because the owners often had their 2-year-old wandering around.

Of anyone, I should understand the need for someone to bring their kid to work.  Seldom does a conference call go by at my house without someone in the background screaming, “MOM! We’re out of toilet paper and I’ve been sitting here for like an hour!  I could’ve drip-dried by now!”

This is when I have to pause the conversation, grab a toilet roll that was inches away from my child, and place it calmly on the roller.

But when I’m out for my 45 minutes of pretending I’m not a mom…actually pretending I’m not much of anybody…I don’t want to have to smile politely as a 2-year-old tries to show me his prize sippy cup.

So I had to make a change, even though my conscience has been bothering me ever since because I’m not funding that child’s college education.

Now the place I go to has jewelry for sale everywhere, so I can look around and imagine what necklace would go perfectly with my new toes.  There is a chick-flick on the TV with subtitles so that the sound doesn’t interfere with the 80s music that’s playing.  No one talks to me.  No one even knows my name.  And not one person asks me to explain my current mental state.

Maybe that’s the O.P.I. name I’ll come up with:  “I’m A Widow.  Look At My Toes. I’m Fine.

I’m envisioning electric blue so no one will miss it.

Catherine Tidd 2011

Catherine Tidd

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Catherine Tidd is a widow and the Founder of, a free social support network dedicated to anyone who has lost a significant other. She is also a writer, public speaker, and mother to three young entertaining children. She received a degree in English from Rollins College in 1998 and has since worked as a writer, editor, Marketing Manager, and Event Planner. Originally from Louisiana, Ms. Tidd currently lives in Denver, CO. To read more of Catherine's work, visit


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  • Deb Kosmer says:

    wonderfully written and left me smiling.

  • Daphna Simpson says:

    I neglect a lot of things while grieving for my son that took his own life. But not my toes. My husband knows exactly where I’m going when I leave the house chanting “pick a color”