Bad Toemance, or How To Let The Dogs Out For Summer Without Frightening Anyone

There are many wonderful and life-affirming things about the onset of summer. Al fresco drinking, for example, and backyard barbecues. The annual recurring fantasy that white jeans are a good idea. The onset of freckles that–if you avoid the annual ladymag parade of horrifying melanoma photos printed under headlines like “What’s Your Skin Cancer Fate?”–seem as  whimsical and nostalgic as the Rocket Pop, which, sadly, you can no longer enjoy innocently, especially in front of young children. Yes, there are a lot of great things about the warm weather.  

The first toes of summer, however, are not one of them.

I’m speaking, of course, of the end of the winter hibernation period*, in which your feet have rested comfortably, invisibly, and unjudged inside sneakers, snow boots, slippers, and sensible closed-toe shoes, growing Hobbit-like fur and gnarled, impenetrable nails still bearing traces of last summer’s polish, which now resemble dull, dried flecks of blood.

*Assuming you live in a place with distinctive seasons, aka somewhere that no college student in her right mind would go to for spring break because there’s still snow on the ground, and if you try to flash someone for beads, your nipples will freeze and break off.

I, for one, have gazed down at my paws in the shower many a time over the past four months, thinking, Hmmm, I should probably give myself a pedicure. But then Glee comes on, and I can’t paint my nails and shovel pad thai into my mouth at the same time, and anyway, if I put those tiny little runner’s socks on my feet they look instantly adorable, like a giant infant’s. And so the vicious cycle continues until I can avoid it no longer, i.e. when I’m forced to concede that sundresses and Sauconys do not, in fact, make me look like Melanie Griffith in Working Girl, but rather like Rosie O’Donnell in Riding The Bus With My Sister.

Rehabilitating winter hooves is no small–wait for it–feat. (Ha! Like feet but spelled wrong!) First you have to pumice away the inch or two of protective callouses that have developed in order to protect your skin from the treacherous floors of your apartment, which are not only freezing cold but also covered with a fine dust of broken wine glass and petrified Rice-A-Roni. Then you have to hack away at your talons until they stop curling around like that Guinness Book of World Records lady’s. If you have a Liz Lemon-esque “foot secret,” as I do (a plantar wart that I took six months to identify as such because it was so plausible that it was just broken glass lodged in my heel), you have to avoid getting a professional pedicure, and must polish each sickly, flan-colored nail to a high sheen, applying a bright, confident shade like “Braziliant” or “Sand Tropez” that seems to say, “I keep up with personal grooming year-round, not just when I have to!”

Then you cautiously slip on a pair of sandals, go to the grocery store, and see if anyone screams, mistaking your feet for two naked mole rats on the loose in the dairy aisle. If not, the annual ritual is over and you can go try on white jeans with impunity.

But have a frozen margarita first. Because we haven’t even gotten to the bikini area.

About Una LaMarche

Una LaMarche blogs at The Sassy Curmudgeon, and writes for The New York Observer, The Huffington Post, and NickMom. She dominates at mini golf, especially after a few drinks, and it is a fact that Tim Gunn once complimented her on her sandals. You can find her hawking blog posts and fetishizing candy on Twitter, and if you really want to feed her ego (which took a major hit thanks to an adolescent unibrow and a penchant for Troll doll earrings), you can become her fan on Facebook.


  1. PoM says:

    Another great post! Love your sense of humor!

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  2. Erin says:

    Was just thinking about how badly I need a pedicure, as my foot callouses scratch my own leg in bed at night. I, too, have a foot secret, but I’ll never tell (btw have you read Bossypants yet? She expounds on that, plus some new mother topics you’d probably find entertaining).

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  3. lonek8 says:

    this is hysterical. of course, it doesn’t apply to me at all because my feet are always polished to the highest degree, lest I look down and suffer the unbearable shock of seeing my mother’s feet attached to my ankles.

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  4. bermtopia says:

    I’m in the lovely process of melting away the pedi-permafrost with the miracle product Amlactin, available at a pharmacy near you. The only problem — it involves slathering the cream on, wrapping said feet in plastic wrap and sleeping with big fuzzy socks on. It’s hard to be glamorous.

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    • Una LaMarche says:

      Oh, I’ve given up on glamor. In the winter I took to covering both feet before bed in Burt’s Bees foot creme, which has the consistency of spermicidal jelly, and then putting on tube socks.

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  5. Nancy says:

    I shows my toes only at the beach and pool.
    I do a thin coat of white nail polish and then the color on top of that to make them look better(kindasorta normal). I’m an expert shopper for summer shoes that cover the toe. Bath and Body Works “Shea It Isn’t So” foot creme fixed my feet years ago and I stick with that.

    • Una LaMarche says:

      The only problem with hiding toes all summer (especially in a grimy, hot city like New York) is that then they get withered and sweaty. I consider peep toes to be the lesser of two evils, even though you inevitably get sidewalk dirt on the soles of your feet through some kind of magic osmosis. I bet no one has this problem in Turks & Caicos.

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  6. Jared Karol says:

    I think you’d like living in California. You could go barefoot all year long. . .

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  7. IzzyMom says:

    I’m barefoot every second that I’m at home and it seems to have taken it’s toll as I always had nice, soft feet back when my feet were in shoes all damn day. Well, I just spent something in the area of an hour the other night soaking them in vinegar and using one of those Pedi Egg cheese grater things to get all the dead winter skin off my feet. Good times…

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  10. Thanks, for this great post. I look forward to reading more later. I think you are pretty knowledgeable in this particular area. If it is okay with you, I would like to repost this on my blog?


  1. [...] and got rid of stuff that was totally outdated no longer fit me could be of use to someone else. Even shoes. I scooped all the stuff up, put it in bags and put it directly in my car before I changed my mind. [...]

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