Posted by: pendrops | May 4, 2007

you look like…


“Naw, you don’t want to get fat?”

“What?” I asked, confused at this odd response.

“I mean, you look like the kinda girl doesn’t wanna get fat. You don’t wanna have no baby.”

“Uh, actually I do. Um, I’ve got baby fever like wicked bad right now. Seriously.”

“Really?” she asked, her voice rising in disbelief. “You don’t look like you do.”

I laughed stiffly at the bizarre comment, trying to figure out what you have to look like if you want to have a baby any time in the not-so-distant future. As the nail tech dug goop and crud from under my toenails, I puzzled over what she had said, then returned to the pages of People Magazine.

Several minutes later, I asked what I thought was a benign question.

“Do you give pedicures to many runners, anyone for the marathon this weekend?”

“No. Well, yes, a lot of runners, but not for anyone this weekend. Not that I know of anyways.” Then she asked, “You a runner? You look like one.”

“I couldn’t run a mile if you paid me.”

“Really? You look like you run.”

Again, a stiff laugh as I thought about what made me look like a runner. I returned to a story and picture in People about a woman born with shriveled arms that came to a tip in one long thumb, no other fingers. I winced at the disfigurement.

Several minutes later, uncomfortable with the silence in the pedicure/manicure room, I said, “There’s nothing like a pedicure. I just came from cleaning someone’s house and I can’t tell you how nice a pedicure is after scouring someone else’s toilets.”

“Really? You clean houses? You don’t look like you clean houses.”

I was indignant by this point.

“Yep, I clean houses. Just came from cleaning God-knows-what off the kitchen floor and scrubbing a shower on my hands and knees. Yep, that’s me. House cleaner extraordinare. I know I don’t ‘look’ like it – whatever house cleaners look like – but it’s what I do.”

Actually, I didn’t say that…I felt like saying that. Instead, I said, “Yep” again, this time without the buffer laugh.

“Hmmm,” she said, hunching over my toes, painting them a shade appropriately called “Belize It or Not” by Opi. I flipped the magazine pages loudly, almost tearing a picture of Christina Aguilera.

But after a few deep breaths, I realized what had just happened. Without trying, I had unraveled this woman’s boxy paradigm, a paradigm in which anyone who got a pedicure was lumped into one category and anyone who cleaned toilets was in another category, and the two could not collide.

I felt sorry for her as I hopped down from the pulsating massage chair. She saw the world in black and white with no vision for the rainbow of grays in between. She only had room for what “you look like.”

As I walked to my car, I passed a sunglassed, Louis Vuitton-carrying, high-heel-wearing woman on her cell phone getting out of her Escalade. Maybe I don’t say it out loud, but I wonder how many times my heart sounds like that pedicurist. How many times I think, “You look like…”



  1. I need to bookmark this post. Brilliantly written, and something I need to hear on a regular basis.


  2. without the x’s and o’s, I agree with your man. As soon as you mentioned Louis Vuitton I was hit with “I’m so often the same as that pedicurist lady”… and infact, as I read the story, I defining what the pedicurist looked like based on the questions… eep

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