There is nothing like working retail during the holidays to remind you of your feet, and of the simple pleasure of a pedicure.

These days, there seems to be a nail salon on every block; not so in my girlish youth. In high school, perhaps inspired by the 1940s movie stars I admired, I painted my own toenails bright red.

At some point I stopped. From time to time I’d buy a new bottle of polish and treat my tootsies, but I didn’t have my first salon pedicure until I was in my 30s. Unaccustomed to that level of pampering, and feeling guiltily self-indulgent, I did not develop a habit, and don’t recall knowing anyone who did.

Around the time I moved back to the Bay Area in 2001, I noticed that extreme personal grooming seemed to have become a thing. I saw salons and spas everywhere. (To this day, I don’t know if it was geography or Zeitgeist, or whether I simply hadn’t been paying attention.)

Back to the salon I went, still feeling a little self-indulgent and self-conscious. Then I learned the secret (at least for me)  of truly enjoying the experience. Company.

Two of my fellow soccer moms and I decided to go for pedicures together. We did, and enjoyed it so well that it became a semi-regular event, often followed by lunch or a glass of wine. Suddenly, instead of an exercise in self-centeredness, it was a communal ritual. No longer a waste of productive time, it was an opportunity (or obligation) to relax and catch up with each other’s lives.

I gave up regular pedicures when I left my real job. Not too long ago, I indulged again, accompanied by two of my dearest friends, on the day of our high school reunion. The three of us sat in a row. One of my friends had never had a manicure or pedicure (we’d decided to go crazy that day, and get both) and she was mildly apprehensive. We put her in the middle.

The process began. The nail technicians greeted us, and we chose our colors. Our feet in warm water, our backs on massage chairs, our minds on each other, the three of us talked and laughed. I remember glancing out at the rest of the  salon a few times, noticing other patrons in other chairs. They were mostly women, and the happiest looking among them were with someone else.

I do not mean to suggest that there is anything wrong with a solo trip to a salon; I get my hair cut by myself. I am simply reminded that pleasure shared is pleasure multiplied.

My friends and I left our chairs that day feeling fresh and fancy, and pleased with ourselves and each other. The rookie among us said, “I want to do that again and again and again.”

Me too.

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