Naked truth about toenails

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I am balancing on one leg with my other foot propped on the bathroom counter. As I wobble from side to side, I study my toes, more accurately, my toenails.

Stubborn flakes of pink cling to their tips, remnants of a paint job I gave them days ago. I slapped on the polish for my class reunion. I’m not sure why I felt a need for pink toes before seeing old friends.

Now it’s decision time. Do I redo them or let nature take its course and allow it to wear off, which is what I’d choose since it fits with love of procrastination.

However, I teach yoga and my feet are usually bare during class, so the second option is probably not a good one. With that in mind, I grab the polish remover, search for a cotton ball, finally pull off some toilet tissue and pour the smelly liquid over it.

As I scrub off the traces of my reunion polish, I think about feet, specifically my feet and what they say about me. Rubbing the nail of my big toe, I look at the shape of the foot, long and narrow, and I hear my mother talking as we shop for shoes.

“Long and narrow,” she says. “Makes it hard to find shoes that fit.”

I curl my toes to ease a cramp in the bottom of my foot and continue with the removal.

The day of the reunion, I talked to my daughter and told her to tell my middle grandchild I polished my toenails.

“Allie will be proud of me,” I said. “When we were at the beach we talked about the importance of polished nails during sandal season.”

I pull my fingers along the side of my foot, feeling rough skin.

“I haven’t done too well moisturizing,” I whisper. “Allie would advise me to do something about that crackly skin if I’m going to wear shoes that show my feet.”

I laugh thinking about that and wondering if normal people pay attention to the condition of other folks’ feet. I don’t, but then I’m standing here balanced precariously thinking about my feet so that may knock me out of the normal people category.

Beyond length, width and flaky polish, I wonder about the story my feet might tell.

“Do they reveal something about me that only feet can reveal?” I say to myself in the mirror.

I consider the bumpy place beside my big toe. It looks a little like a knuckle. My grandmother on my Daddy’s side had that same bump. I saw it when I brought her house shoes to her. I remember thinking, “what the heck is that thing on her foot?” Now I have one on my foot.

And, those rough patches happened because I walk outside without shoes and the skin toughened up as protection against the elements I guess.

So I got grandmother’s bump and I enjoy nude feet as I stroll around my yard. I guess that is the extent it, nothing of too much interest hidden between these toes.

I shift around to balance on the other leg, grab more toilet tissue and repeat the process. With toenails their original color, I consider getting out the pink polish.

“They would look better with color,” I think, “but if I start polishing, I’ll need to keep it up or they’ll get flaky again. Oh, if my yoga students read this rambling discourse on feet, they’ll probably be more likely to look at mine out during class.”

Well, yoga teaches us to stand strong in our own truth, and the truth is no matter how hard I try, I am not a toenail polish person.

“Hope I remember that when the next reunion rolls around,” I say, catching myself as I fall off the counter. “Come on you wonderful naked feet, let’s go for a walk.”