Los Angeles Times

Mesa Musings: A mani-pedi tale for men

My wife and I have been retired from our respective professions for nearly four years.

I'd wager that Hedy and I have seen more of each other over the last 48 months than we did the previous 396 months of our 37-year marriage. If I didn't know better, I'd say we're now joined at the hip.

We accompany one another almost everywhere: navigating the teeming aisles of our local supermarket; picking up our granddaughter from kindergarten and stealing away for ice cream; perusing recent works by the literati while quaffing caffeine-laden drinks at Starbucks; breakfasting at IHOP; and sharing a tub of buttered popcorn at a senior matinee.

You name it, we're there. Together!

You see one of us? Glance about, you'll likely find the other.

Earlier in our marriage, I regularly attended conventions all over the country, and I journeyed to Europe, the Middle East and the South Pacific, sans my bride. We once were apart for five weeks. Never again!

I can't motor to the gas station without her (besides, I need someone to help me count the bulging stack of greenbacks required to satisfy our bill).

Last week I was on a rare solo assignment.

I attended my weekly morning fitness class for Parkinson's patients at the Hoag Center in Newport Beach. Because Parkinson's is a disease that more frequently afflicts males than females, I stood after class chatting with three other guys. The four of us are about the same age: in our late-middles to early-lates.

We discussed sports teams, medication regimens and in-depth strategies for world peace. The class had been over for about 15 minutes when I checked my wristwatch.

"Oops, gotta go," I chirped to my pals. "My wife and I are scheduled for a 9:30 haircut."


"Are you participating in a joint haircut, or just visiting the same joint?" asked one of my intrepid buds.

"We have the same gal who cuts our hair, independently," I offered.

"You get your hair cut at the same place?" inquired another baffled colleague.

"If you find that strange," I responded — and here's where I failed to employ proper discretion — "my wife and I get pedicures together."

That was a mistake! Too much information.

"I mean, yeah, Hedy has taken me with her to get a pedicure. I'm not ashamed of that."

I tried to walk it back a little.

"I wasn't lovin' it, but don't knock it if you haven't tried it."

A pedicure, by the way, for uninitiated males, is a mysterious cosmetic "cure" for the "pedi" and toenails. I don't recommend it for the faint of heart or any gentleman suffering an identity crisis. The process can include shaving or waxing, followed by granular exfoliation, but I won't go into details. This is a family-friendly column.

Shortly after I'd dropped the P-bomb, Curtis, standing next to me, admitted in low, halting tones: "I've had a pedicure."

"You have?" came the shocked response from the other guys.

"Yeah, I went with my wife. Jim's right. It's pretty nice."

Lou then took a breath and came clean.

"I, too, have had a pedicure, uh, with my wife."

We three bonded more in 30 seconds than we had in the entirety of the months-long fitness class.

John, the uninitiated, obviously felt the outsider.

"Guess I'll have to check it out with my wife," he said, exposing a badly bruised ego. "I'm obviously missing something."

For myself, the moment of "sharing with the guys" proved cathartic. I'd bared my soul and come away a better man for it.

And now, with this column, I've taken an additional risk. I've informed the world — or at least the half-dozen hearty souls who regularly read this corner — that I'm a person of complex dimensions.

I only hope that with this mea culpa in the Daily Pilot, I'll be able to withstand the inevitable blowback.

It's not easy surfing at the cusp of societal evolution.

JIM CARNETT lives in Costa Mesa. His column runs Tuesdays.

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