Nailing It: The Problem With Pedicures

 Raising My Rainbow is written by the mother of a slightly effeminate, possibly gay, totally fabulous son. She’s chronicling their journey right here on Queerty. Read up on RMR‘s cast of characters.

“Where are we going?” C.J. asked me.  We were loading into the car after a morning at the gym and we had a few hours to kill before we had to pick up his brother.

“Someplace,” I replied.

“Let me guess, running errand s,” he said looking out the window in boredom.

“No. Someplace special. Someplace where you’ve never, ever been before,” I said looking at him with a mischievous smile.


A few minutes later, we stood at the open double doors of the nail salon and he looked at me with a huge grin.  He gripped my hand a little tighter in excitement.

“Is this the nail store?” he asked.

“Yes, this is where you go when you want your nails painted really nice and pretty,” I replied.

“I always want my nails painted really nice and pretty,” he said to me quietly.

“I know.”

He saw the wall racked with a rainbow of colored polishes and ran over to them.  I informed the receptionist that we wanted two pedicures.  I paused.

“C.J., do you want your fingernails and toenails painted or just your toes?” I asked in clarification.

“Just my toes, cause when I wear my shoes no one can see them.”

“Two pedicures please,” I said.

We were escorted to our huge vibrating massage chairs and footbaths filled with warm water and suds.

C.J. was near giggles watching his feet soak and I was near giggles watching my son get his first professional pedicure.  The salon was quiet; all eyes were on us — my son and me on an 11 a.m. pedicure date.

“Mama, you need to tell them to get the hard stuff off of your tootsies,” he said giving my feet a disgusted look.  Rude.

The pedicure pros got to work on our feet and a frenzy of chatter and laughter started.  I was wishing I were fluent in the language that they were speaking so that I could eavesdrop when I heard the manager walking toward us shaking her head in disapproval.  The girl doing my pedicure lightly smacked my foot getting my attention to ask me a question before the manager got much closer.

“Is that a boy or a girl?” she asked, pointing at C.J.  Luckily, he wasn’t really paying attention to anything other than his toes and couldn’t understand her broken English very well anyway.

“He’s a boy,” I said, looking at my son in his brother’s hand-me-downed blue athletic shorts and a blue shirt with a police car on the front.  He was looking surprisingly boyish if you ask me.  But, then again, I’m used to seeing him a skirt, heels, clip-on earrings and lip-gloss.

The embarrassed manager said she was sorry and diverted her path towards the back of the salon.

“Oh, ’cause I thought it was a girl.  But, her and her thought it was a boy,” said  my pedicurist, pointing at her coworkers. “And, her, her and her thought it was a girl. We were taking bets.”

She was amused—I was shocked.  I leaned over to my nail girl so she could hear me better, but C.J. couldn’t. “Well, he’s a boy, so I guess her and her are the winners,” I said, unamused.

None of them would make eye contact with me.

C.J. was oblivious and I did everything in my power to keep it that way.  Our pedicures were done and we walked out of the salon holding hands with toilet paper rolled up and stuck between our freshly polished toes.  When I saw C.J. staring at his toes and smiling, I smiled too.

A few weeks of begging later, I took him to a different salon for another pedicure.  He was selecting a color when his pedicurist approached him. “You don’t want a color,” she said, grabbing him gently by the shoulders and steering him away from the colors and towards the pedicure chair.

I stopped her in her path. “Colors are the best part of the pedicure,” I said .  “Aren’t they, C.J.?”

C.J. and I selected our colors.  Then, C.J. vetoed the purplish-gray color that I had picked for myself and picked another color for me.   I ended up with a C.J.-approved glittering violet and he chose neon pink for himself.

We sat in our massive massage chairs and the pedicures began.  I read an issue of People while he played a fashion-design game on my iPhone.  The lady doing his nails kept sneaking a glance at the neon-pink bottle of polish he’d selected. In a foreign tongue she said something to her coworker busy working on my feet.  They were going back and forth and looking at the neon pink.

“Little boy, you sure you want pink? Why not get blue to match your pants?” she finally asked C.J.

C.J. looked at me.

“Do you want pink?” I asked him.

“Yes,” he said.

“Then, tell her,” I said.

“I want pink,” he said shyly.

“He wants pink,” I said looking at her like there was no room for discussion.

C.J. smiled at me.

“You want design on your toes?  Maybe turkey for Thanksgiving?”

C.J. looked appalled.  I can guarantee that my son will never want a turkey painted on his toenails.

“I want a flower,” he said.

I smiled at him in encouragement and looked at her matter-of-factly.

She granted his wish even as she talked more excitedly with her coworker.

I eventually decided that I was glad that I couldn’t understand what they were saying—because I really don’t care.  My son and I were happy, walking to our car with toilet paper worming between our purple and pink toes. We walked hand in hand on our balls of our heels, as if that would help the polish dry faster.

My son was happy and that’s all that really matters.

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  • Dumdum

    These stories are becoming increasingly suspect. But as fiction they are kinda sweet so sweet in fact that my teeth hurt. I need to go brush now. Afterwards I shall investigate the veracity of these stories.

  • Jonathonz

    I hope that you find a place to get your pedicures that is more welcoming. Anybody should be able to get a pedicure without the staff acting like you’re weird for wanting their services. Bad customer service.

  • Mr. Enemabag Jones

    Agree with Jonathonz. Find a salon with an obviously gay employee and start going there. My BF gave me a day spa voucher for my birthday this year, and I went once and never again. I couldn’t stand all the foreign chatter.

  • GreatGatsby2011

    When I took my husband to get his first pedicure the nail technician working on me asked “Is that your brother?”. This isn’t all that uncommon as we do have similar facial features and skin tone. When I told her that he was in fact my husband, hoooooo boy, did the Vietnamese chatter start to fly. I was about to become upset when I realized “Oh wait, these ladies clean feet for a living. What does their opinion matter to me?”. So just cranked up my Lindsey Stirling, flipped the page of my People magazine and enjoyed my pedicure carefree of any possible judgment I couldn’t understand anyway.

    That being said, I can’t be sure if I would have been as casual about someone admitting to betting on the gender of my child. That’s just tasteless.

  • yaoming

    These stories are getting more painful to read. How old is this kid and how could he be so exited about going to a nail salon, but also so ashamed that he only wanted his toenails painted so no one could see them? Wasn’t the last story about how ashamed he was to go out on Halloween dressed as a princess or something? If this kid actually exists, I feel bad for him. Where is all this shame coming from?

  • BiL

    @GreatGatsby2011 “Oh wait, these ladies clean feet for a living. What does their opinion matter to me?” Are you serious with this comment?

    So you don’t care what people think as long as you feel superior to them. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

  • GreatGatsby2011

    @BiL: Actually no, I don’t care because their opinion has no direct effect on my life. If they were politicians or members of the media then any outrage I felt would be worth my time. Since they aren’t then it isn’t.

    Is that clear enough for you? Or do I need to type it phonetically?

  • mlbumiller


    @yaoming: What is painful is that he feels he has to hide anything. He is starting to realize his is different which is bad enough, but worse that he already feels he has to hide who he is. Also, if her stories bother you so much, stop reading them.

  • RomanHans

    I tell a lot of true stories on my blog, like when the desk clerk at a major hotel said that since I was travelling with another male my request for a king-size bed must have been a mistake.

    And when I tell true stories I include the business name to shame them. THE PALMER HOUSE HILTON IN CHICAGO. Now, how about giving us the names of these nail salons? I mean, it’s a true story, right?

  • Dumdum

    The whole story is so perfect. In fact so is the web site. Whoever created this story did a great job. The thing is so well done that compared to other sites it is right up there with Huffington Post. It has to be fictitious. Too perfect, every detail reeks of professional construct, right down to the oh so cute way the child talks. NOTHING is ever THAT perfect. You can go and look judge for yourself. It is a great site but it is NOT real.

  • nepal15

    Have you considered that the author is concerned about the anonymity of her child? By leaving out place names other details she can protect her child from internet trolls who might seek him out in real-life.

  • nepal15

    *and other details

  • essjay

    I don’t know where you live abouts, but i grew up in the northern midwest and when I was young i knew that my mother hated when I would choose to do or act in ways that were considered effeminate. What is especially inspiring about your story, though very different from mine, is that you (the mother) are so supportive of your son’s choices. At the time when I was younger, my mom would call my dad up and complain as to why he would buy me barbies and let me come home with them…. same type of ordeal, only you’re being the mother I wish I had. Good for you. Keep doing what you do.

  • Tommysole

    That is why when I get my Toesies done, I go to a salon that DOESN’T have oriental nail techs.
    I go to a salon that does hair, nails, massages, and also has spa treatments. Yeah it is a bit more expensive, but very well worth it!
    And the ladies that handle my feet suggest different spectrum’s of the wild assortment they have. Last pedicure I had, I got bright pink polish!

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