FASHION : Something's Afoot : Popularity of pedicures grows as people prepare to shed their shoes for summer.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

All right class, spit out your gum and take your seats. We have a lot of ground to cover today. And you--the wise guy in the back with no shoes--well, I'll get to you later.

Now, for those of you who are just sitting in today, this is Quantum Communications 1A. Some of you already completed the Gaslighting course I taught last semester and found it quite helpful.

But before I begin, there are two things about this class you should know. No. 1: Don't try these techniques at home unless you've attended all my lectures. A lot of students have gotten into trouble that way.

No. 2: Please don't address me by my first name. This may be a widespread practice, but as far as I'm concerned, calling a person in a position of authority by his or her first name is a clear sign of disrespect.

Not long ago, an irate reader wrote a letter that began: "Yes Virginia, there are two sides to every story." I didn't read any further. Not only did she use the informal form of address, but she couldn't even get my name right! But onward. Many of you seem a bit confused about quantum communications and gaslighting.

Gaslighting, if you remember, is when a person attempts to make someone else believe that what is happening is not happening, and, in the process, make that person think he is crazy or deluded.

For example: "You must have some deep-seated insecurities if you really think I'd have an affair." If the person saying this is having an affair, that's gaslighting.

Quantum communications is a bit different. This involves taking a shared experience, the reality of which is obvious to all, then coming up with a perfectly logical explanation for why it is different than what everyone believes.

"That paint may look blue, but it's really red. You just can't tell because of an amazing architectural phenomenon in this room." That's quantum communications.

I still see some puzzled expressions. So let me give some recent examples.

Just the other day in Simi Valley, I saw a nail salon with a sign outside that read: "Look great for summer! Get a pedicure!" If you think about it, this is quantum communications at its best.

Notice that there's no allusion at all to the winter roll of flab most people have around their middles. Or the horror most people feel at the thought of even baring their midriffs. Or that, in most cases, the only difference a pedicure will make is that people's hammer toes will have pretty polish on them.

There's also no mention that, deep down inside, everyone knows that an attractive pair of adult feet comes along about as often as Halley's Comet.

Even if a person doesn't have corns and calluses, or a big toe that crosses over the rest, or a third toe that's longer than all the others, the majority of feet border on ugly.

That's been particularly apparent among the increasing number of people around the county who feel the need to go barefoot in public places, such as in grocery stores. But ugly, it seems, is open to dispute.

"I don't look at feet as being ugly, as much as that God made them a certain way," said Ojai homemaker Brigitte Poulons. "We can make them look a little better."

Denise Dewire, a Ventura receptionist, isn't sure. "Someone once told me that my toes look like people," she said. "I don't really know how (my feet) got all messed up."

We could go into that later. Meanwhile, Dewire decided a few weeks ago that, if she was going to wear sandals, she'd better do something about them. The last time she'd had a pedicure was when she was pregnant with her daughter. That was 13 years ago.

"We're getting a lot more people now who ask for a pedicure because summer is coming," said Tina Tien, a manicurist at Magic Nails in Ventura. "They say they want to be able to show their feet." That also includes a lot more men, she said, whose feet aren't so much uglier as "really, really big."

Of course, some people may be taking the whole pedicure pitch too far. One woman came into Magic Nails with huge bunions that made her big toes look as if they'd swallowed a golf ball. She wanted them buffed away.

"I said the state board wouldn't let a manicurist do that," Tien said.

Which reminds me. You--the barefoot guy in the back.

Get a pedicure, or don't come back without a proper pair of shoes.

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