2008.07.23 Nibbling away at my sole

Written by David Green.

By COLLEEN LEDDY

In preparation for Rozee’s wedding, my daughters accompanied me to Sephora at the mall in Toledo. Sephora sells make-up and lots of it. I was hoping for a consultation, reformation, transformation—anything to take away the bags under my eyes and the odd patches of discolored skin that make me wonder, “Who is that woman?” when I look in the mirror.

Rozee doubted that they would provide that service, but when I walked in the store, the first salesperson I saw asked, “What can I help you with?”

“Everything!” I said. “I need it all!”

She proceeded to do the works. From some kind of eye cream with light diffusers to Buxum lip polish for “pout-plumping perfection,” she tested various colors until she found the ones that matched my skin the best.

She explained everything she was doing and applied only moderate amounts of each product. When she was done, I thought, “Hey, it almost IS magic!” You might recall that Maddie once said it WASN’T magic when I complained her make-up wasn’t getting rid of my bags.

“I’ll take it all,” I said, much to my daughters’ amazement. I figured I’ve gone a good 35 years not buying much more than lip balm. Whatever it cost to purchase all this make-up magic would average out to not much overall.

A couple years ago I did buy some Burt’s Bees lipstick that I thought was lip balm. I bought one each for Rozee, Maddie and myself for stocking stuffers. On Christmas morning, when we were all gathered on my and David’s bed rooting through our stockings, I slathered my lips up and down and around with Burt’s Bees. When the kids looked up from their stockings, they burst into laughter at the sight of their mother looking like a clown.

Lately, though, my real problem is on the other end of my body: my feet.

My husband has the most amazing feet, especially his heels. So soft, so smooth. So like a baby’s bottom.

I was examining his feet in relation to mine and was shocked at the difference.

My feet are wicked, rugged affairs. The tips of my toes are cracked and rough, but my heels are so bad they could grind the paint off a car door. They rip the threads off our couch cushions, so I have to throw down a blanket before I put up my feet.

Every now and then I put lotion on my feet at night and wear socks to bed. A few days of this and they’re restored to somewhat normalcy. But it’s too hot to do that in the summer and too many days of gardening in sandals kicks them back into grinder mode again anyway.

Besides, those rough heels are great for scratching the mosquito bites on my toes. I swear those mosquitoes just zero in on my feet like it’s the only good piece of meat around.

David was pretty shocked at the extent of damage to my heels. Monday morning when I checked e-mail, I knew he was thinking of me.

The link he sent?

“Fish pedicures: Carp rid human feet of scaly skin.”

The article described a spa in northern Virginia where they have pools of fish that nibble the feet of customers, $35 for 15 minutes and $50 for 30 minutes.

John Ho, who runs the salon with his wife, was looking for a replacement for razors used to scrape off dead skin.

 "The best pedicure I ever had,” said one customer. “This was the first time somebody got rid of my calluses completely.”

The “somebody” is little carp called garra rufa or doctor fish.

The article quotes a podiatrist who doubts the practice will become widespread. But, he probably hasn’t tried it himself.

A first-time customer’s apprehension “dissolved into laughter after she put her feet in the tank and the fish swarmed to her toes. ‘It's a little ticklish, actually,’ she said.”

There are no state laws regulating fish pedicures, but the county health department made the salon switch from a shallow communal pool to individual tanks for each customer.

“The communal pool also presented its own problem: At times the fish would flock to the feet of an individual with a surplus of dead skin, leaving others with a dearth of fish.

"It would sometimes be embarrassing for them but it was also really hilarious," Ho said.

I thought it was pretty funny, too, imagining all the fish at my feet if I were in the communal pool.

“That’s hilarious about the fish,” I said to David later Monday.

“The fish?” he asked.

“Nibbling your feet,” I prompted, and he registered a look of recognition.

“You think it’s an April Fool’s joke?” I asked.

“No, it’s August,” he said. “July,” he corrected himself.

“I shave mine,” he said. “You could use yours for a cheese grater.”

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