ALBANY There are many truly thought provoking questions in life that render me sleepless.
What was the best thing before sliced bread? Is there another word for synonym? Are there other universes with physical laws resulting from alternate ways of breaking the apparent symmetries of physical forces at high energies, possibly incredibly far away due to cosmic inflation?
And – quite possibly the most perplexing of them all – are the women in the nail salon talking about me when I’m getting a pedicure?
Truth be told, it had been a while since I’d paid special attention to my feet. Taken them for granted, I had, scrunching them into heels and boots and tennis shoes, not to mention my favorite less than flattering rubber flip flops. So when I settled into the overstuffed leather chair at the nail salon, punched the massage remote to high, and plopped my big, old, tired feet up on the basin for the nail tech to do her magic, I shouldn’t have been surprised at her reaction.
“Oh, my. Would you look at these humongous sloth feet? What has she been doing, walking barefoot through a cess pool?” she said to the nail tech next to her.
Okay, so maybe she didn’t say that exactly. Fact is, I don’t know what she said because she was speaking in her native language, one I didn’t understand. But I did understand what they did next. They laughed.
“Bwahahahaha!” they howled. That did it. They were talking about my feet.
Oh, who did I think I was? They probably see hundreds of feet a week, a day even. Surely mine were not worth discussion. I was paranoid. That was it. Paranoid. I closed my eyes and drifted back into my chair. Ahhhh... relaxation...
“Look at her hands! Does she dig potatoes for a living?” another salon lady said from across the room. Or at least, that’s what I imagine she said because right after she said it the young girl helping me looked at me and said,” You would like a manicure, too?”
“No, thank you,” I said and, ashamed, slid my paws underneath me. First my sloth feet... now my potato digging hands. I looked at her... she looked sweet enough. How self-centered I am, I thought. She hadn’t been talking about my hands. They were just having a friendly conversation amongst themselves. Yeah, that’s it. I sank back into my seat. Closed my eyes...
My eyes snapped open at the sound of voices again.
“Those feet... have you ever seen anything like them? Like Sasquatch...” It was a different voice this time, in the same language, an older woman, the salon manager, standing over the nail technicion painting my toenails. When I looked up at them they grew quiet and the older woman walked away.
Sasquatch? Okay, maybe that’s not what she said... but it could have been. My nail tech looked up at me.
“She said you have nice hair,” she told me, in English. Oh... okay. Well, isn’t that nice? Then the older woman mumbled something from across the room, so quietly that I could barely hear her, and all of the technicians laughed in unison.
Sasquatch had nice hair, too, I bet she said. Sasquatch had nice hair too.
I have resigned to the fact that I may never truly know what the ladies in the nail salon are saying. Are they talking about me? Hopefully not. Am I going to continue to be paranoid about it? Absolutely. Will I go back? Most likely.
Because when I left I had the prettiest red painted sloth toed Sasquatch feet I’d seen in a long time. And besides, if we do find that there are other universes with physical laws resulting from alternate ways of breaking the apparent symmetries of physical forces at high energies, I want to look nice in my flip flops.
Now that would be the best thing since sliced bread.
Contact columnist Mandy Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.