Believe it or not, this morning marked the second time that I saw someone clip their nails on the subway. At least it wasn’t their toenails, like the first time around. That incident happened during the summer, when it was hot enough to wear sandals– the thick, B.O.-pungent air, and perspiration-drenched bearded man sitting next to me, were giving me the willies. Not yet in full-on “New York Summer Mode,” the pits on my white top weren’t permanently stained, and I wasn’t completely numb to the moist body-fest taking place around me (let’s just say that in New York during the summer, people let it all hang out). Just when I thought it couldn’t get any mossy-er, I heard that familiar click, click, click of the nail clippers that I had previously only associated with my bathroom grooming routine. I looked over, and saw an old lady clipping her toenails on the subway, the yellowed bits of keratin flying all over the train car like loose kernels of Jiffy Pop exploding over a campfire. The subway scene had gone from mossy to totally fungal, and it was one of the most gag-inducing sights that I have ever witnessed.
Worse things have happened to me on the New York City public transit system, but at least those things didn’t make me want to blow my partially-digested sack lunch all over the sweaty bearded dude sitting next to me. The reason that the public toenail trimming incident affected me so was because I have a foot phobia. That’s right– some people fear sharks, or heights, or ending up on that show Hoarders. I, on the other hand, can’t handle most things involving metatarsals and phalanges. Tough day at work? Too bad, I don’t want to give you a foot massage. Quentin Tarantino? Sorry, dude. Love your work, but you ain’t comin’ anywhere near my tootsies (as in, my toes– I’d watch Tootsie with the Q-Man any day!). You like hot-and-heavy foot-on-foot action? I won’t rub my bare feet against your’s unless you are truly special. In fact, the very idea shivers my timbers. I won’t even get a pedicure because it’s too “intimate.” I know this all sounds ridiculous, but most phobias are. I, Carrie Laven, am totally and completely freaked out by something as stupid as feet.
Being foot-phobic in NYC is extra stressful. You see, New York City is actually a very foot-centric city. You have to walk everywhere– hello, bunion-central! You live in a tiny apartment with a whole mess of roommates who leave their shoes all over the place– two possess Fred Flintstones that smell like the Stone Age, and you’re pretty sure that the other one hasn’t washed his socks since you moved in six months ago. Cold weather temperatures bring dry, ashy skin, and humid summers… well, summers bring old ladies in open-toes tearing into their ingrowns on the JMZ. The worst was when I met a friend in the park on a sunny day, his shoes slipped off, literally feeling the grass between his toes. I could barely concentrate on what the guy was saying because he was picking the toe jam out from under his nails for about a half hour– and action directly followed by him pulling an old ham sandwich out of his backpack and tearing into it with those same dirty toe-hands.
I could write an entire book about my foot fears, but that’s not what I’m here for. I’m also not here to tell you how to care for your feet, because, come on, I’m broke and not exactly a “product girl” myself (all I ask is that, for the love of god, rinse those dogs if you’ve been walking around the bum piss-soaked city in sandals all day– this place was not exactly made for flip flops!). Really, the reason that I’m writing this is because as much as I have a serious foot phobia, I also have foot phobia guilt. I’m all about loving all bodies– and all parts of bodies– big and small, pretty and ugly, fragrant and smelly. Being foot phobic goes against this, and I ain’t no hypocrite. It’s time for me to face my fears, and I’m going to face them by indulging in all of the finest cheapo foot-pampering this place has to offer. So, without further ado, my battle plan:
1) Get a pedicure at Agua de la Vida in Williamsburg: I’ve been to this place for other non-foot related services, and the staff is always super friendly and professional and offers me water and magazines about home decor, even though my room can fit nothing but my full-size bed and an Elton John poster. Most importantly, their prices are hella cheap. I can’t think of a better place to let a middle aged lady rub lotion between my toes (shiver).
2) Get a cheap foot rub in at one of the many massage places in Chinatown: I mean, someone I know got a happy ending at the place across the street from my BF’s apartment, so I’ll probably go there in case I’m feeling extra crazy.
3) Give a foot massage: I’m pretty nervous about this one, but maybe once I actually wrap my mitts around some size 13s, I’ll transform into a full-on Tarantino and want to wrap my lips around it, too (I just barfed typing that, by the way).
4) Trim my toenails on the subway, and leave the clippings all over the floor: JK, JK! That’s disgusting, no matter how you slice it.
Any other tips on how I can overcome my fear? Any cheap, favorite spas in your area, that are gentle on weirdos like me? Any fellow foot-phobics out there? Can someone please explain foot fetishes to me? I feel so odd and alone in my confession; I really hope that I didn’t just put my foot in my mouth.
Photo credit: Thordoggie.blogspot.com