Now I know I am a skinflint. I can’t help it. Actually I didn’t used to be before I was married. I was the kind of person who would put unopened bank statements in the cupboard just in case there was bad news. One day my then-fiance opened the cupboard and they all fell out. And it was, er, very bad news. But luckily, the landlady was out that evening and didn’t hear anything. And he still married me, which was a relief, but as in all relationships, there had to be negotiated change on both sides and on my side these were mainly money related: –
1. Keep track of what you spend.
2. Open bank statements because this makes 1. a lot easier.
3. Think of other ways to cheer self up after a bad day.
4. Read “Freedom of Simplicity” by Richard Foster.
5. Spend money on the things you need FIRST.
6. Be as generous as you can.
(Just to say, he had a list too but these were mainly to do with flowers, candlelit meals and romantic walks)
Well, in the first year I worked on 1-3. It nearly killed me. Old habits die hard. I remember a friend telling me she used to show her partner new purchases only when friends were round to stop him going ballistic. But I didn’t want to do that. I did actually want to spend less money for lots of reasons. I just didn’t know how. I suppose it was a sort of addiction. Then I read the book. It was very good. The blurb said it would show me how to bring sanity to the compulsive accumulation of modern life, how to shift my focus off stuff so it enhances life, instead of filling it. Let go of the need to own. Live simply. Breathe; that kind of thing. The book had a profound effect on me. To the extent that, thirty years later, in the whole area of spending I think I’ve gone a bit the other way. Annoying, but I suppose the flip side of a compulsion.
How does this relate to toes?Well, I’ve never really thought much about mine. They’re pretty average looking; I get them out in summer. In recent years I’ve started painting them in a slightly haphazard sort of way, stabbing the brush generally southwards (it helps to paint them on the wine coloured rug). But as I’ve got older this has become more challenging. Which glasses? The right light? The right position? The results have often dismayed me and I’ve sometimes left the house with feet resembling rare steaks. This week, as it’s been warm, I wore sandals to work but hadn’t made them toe-pretty so compared to everyone else’s beautifully pedicured feet, they looked awful. And these days everyone seems to go and have their feet done in summer – pedicures and gel nails and the like. I’ve always rather pooh-poohed this idea, in favour of Principles, the same ones that prevent me buying things things like ready made ice cubes, pre-cut veg or grated cheese. Except when I’m ill. Or desperate. But I looked down at the toes this week half way through story time and I thought, “You, my dears, are ugly. And you deserve an upgrade”
So I go into the beauty salon near our house and I say, “Hello! I’d like to inquire about your pedicures, with gel nails and…er…nail varnish, or something.” They all gaze at me as if I’m from another planet. Which I am really. They are very pert and pretty but thankfully, kind. The receptionist smiles warmly,
“You haven’t been here before, have you?” she says.
“Er, no. To be honest…” I lean forward confidentially. All three of them lean in too (all of which is quite unnecessary, as there’s no one else in the room) “…I’ve come to the whole pedicure thing rather late in life. I just want to make my feet look pretty. Can you tell me what you do, and how much it will cost?”
They tell me I need a Jessica Gel Pedicure. It costs way more than a skinflint imagines. I think briefly of other things I could spend the money on: –
1. A few paperback books
2. A pair of shoes
3. A summer’s worth of ready make ice cubes
4. A worthy cause.
And I wait, for that little voice in my head, the one that usually tells me what to do, if I’m listening. They all look at me expectantly. I look down at the brochure. There is a picture of a woman with fronds of hair blowing across her face. It must be windy, I think (or a wind machine). And she’s laughing. I have the pedicure. After the weirdness of someone you don’t know handling your feet, washing them, moisturising them and putting on several layers of gel (I think – I was drinking tea and reading magazines by this stage), it was actually lovely. Afterwards my toes look good enough to eat. I’m tempted to ask the receptionist if she’d like a photo, for the brochure.
And as I walk away, careful not to bash into lamp posts while I admire my smug, painted toes, I remember that God – who goes with me everywhere, although I sometimes forget this, and who may be a He or a She or Something Else, no one really knows – is not a skinflint. He has an extravagant smile, evident in things like daffodils. Or twins. Or badgers.
When I tell my husband about the foot quandary, he just laughs and admires my toes. Then he says, just to rile me, the answer is probably to wear socks and sandals all year round.
Not that his today-socks would be much good in winter anyway…
6 thoughts on “Smug Painted Toes and the Smile of God”
Never been much into the toe-painting genre myself. I’m wondering what sort of reaction I’d get if I went into your salon and asked for ‘Jessica Gel Pedicure’? Perhaps not much, society in general being so open minded (as well as open toed). However, though I can’t quite identify with the toe thing, I can certainly connect with the underlying dilemma – and I was warmed by your conclusion. Plus which it made me smile a lot! (Nice daffs, by the way).
Paul, your comment made me LOL. I think you you’d love the painted toe thing. It’s almost exciting to take you shoes and socks off 🙂 And as you say, probably no one would turn a hair. Sigh. How times have changed…Thanks for your lovely comment and let me know if you want me to make you an appointment 😉
Your toes look so lovely. I am pleased to be reminded that God is generous and delights in us. You will smile all summer, every time to see your toes.
That is so true! Thank you 🙂 And thank you for reading and commenting 🙂
I smiled all the way through that, and laughed at the rare steaks joke. And the picture at the end! A very feel-good post. Which I needed. I wore shoes all week even though it was sandal weather because I hadn’t done anything with The Toes post-winter. Boy, I wish I’d taken time to paint them. My feet were Gobi-hot.
I’m impressed you can still paint them and make them look good. Perhaps I’ll make you do mine next summer. It will save me a packet. Thanks Fran 🙂