Sunday, May 27, 2007

Tamerlane's First and Last Pedicure: A Socio-Economic Discourse

Today, Tamerlane got his first and last pedicure. It was a rather involved process. First, a questionnaire had to be filled out, asking questions such as how many hours a week I spend taking care of my nails (answer: 2 minutes), what length I like my nails (medium), and whether I have diabetes (no). Then, I pick a scent out of four bottles. That scent is mixed in a bath of warm water for my feet to soak in.

After the soak, I am whisked to another room where real work is done. It involved rubbing, clipping, etching, sculpting, sanding, dips in parraffin wax, warm booty wraps, and more rubbing. All this in a temperature controlled, aroma controlled, audio controlled environment in a comfortable, reclining leather chair. I was engrossed in the whole pampering process and had a relaxing time. Then, midway through, I shook myself back into sanity and realized that the entire experience is a microcosm of all that is foul and morally bankrupt in modern American society.

Elitism. The class divide and out-and-out snobbery is an integral part of the pedicurist-client relationship. The client is usually of upper middle class or middle class extraction. The pedicurist is likely from a working class background with at most a year of community college education. The sickening interaction between the two was best exemplified by the conversation I overheard in the station next to me.

Client: "I am the most vital employee at the second biggest software company in the world. I work so much, I have no time to shop for groceries or cook my meals. I go to Whole Foods everyday and buy its prepared meals (including the $12 salmon entree) because I am so important and wealthy. My brother went to law school in LA and lived in Brentwood. He married another lawyer and they live in a large, expensive house. I know LA really well. By the way, peon of a minority race who is scrubbing my disgusting feet, where are you from?"

Pedicurist: "I am from LA. I lived off of Olympic. Near Koreatown. Do you know where that is?"

Client: "Er, yeah, kind of. I've driven through it. [Awkward silence.] Well, you've certainly come a long way since, haven't you?" (If you wanted a definition of condescending, all you had to do was listen to a RealAudio clip of this winner talking to the poor woman.)

Consumerism. This non-essential "luxury" service is exactly why this nation has lost its soul, is mired in credit card debt with an APR of 19.99%, and why Al Qaeda and angry Iranian clerics think we are the Great Satan. What is more sad is that many of the clients are not well-to-do housewives with $5,000 monthly allowances. Most are women holding administrative/ office jobs making no more than $35,000 per annum. In the spirit of: I work hard so I deserve to be pampered, they drive long-wheelbased versions of Chevy sport utes with DVD players in the backseats for their rotten ADHD impaired brats; carry overpriced Coach or Prada bags; and spend hundreds of dollars a month on facials, manicures, make-up, and other useless products that come in little bottles. It makes Tamerlane puke.

Environmental Devastation. What was the environmental cost of Tamerlane's little mid-morning adventure today? All those towels that needed to be washed and dried use water and energy. All the little petroleum based lotions and scrubs, packaged in plastic that will take another 500 years to disintegrate in our evergrowing landfills. The emery boards. The plastic booties. The wax. The energy used to heat the wax. All for what? So that my feet are a wee bit softer and my nails are cut in a way I am not used to? No thank you.

The Crime of Excess. In a world where one billion people live on less than $1 US per day, Tamerlane spent $52 plus tax and tip on his FEET. That is an abomination and a true crime against humanity. Sure, getting your feet rubbed, eating seared foie gras, and driving an Aston Martin feel great, but only on an extremely superficial and selfish level.

This discourse is by no means an attack on the hundreds of thousands of women (and men) in the salon industry. For those with limited skills and education who need flexibility in hours to take care of children or other dependents, working at a salon pays the bills. But the industry as a concept, and its me-first patrons, are a whole different story.

Next time you need your feet pampered, go buy a big plastic bowl, a packet of CALGON, and soak those tired dogs at home. Woof!

1 comment:

Alan said...

Righteous, man. I'll admit to a similar experience, it was really relaxing and enjoyable for the few moments I was able to turn of my self-loathing.