Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

My toes are attractive now, but my daughter's disgusted

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There are certain activities modern children should never see their parents engaged in.

An excellent example of this occurred the other day when, suddenly and without warning, our college-age daughter walked in on my wife and I in our den.

The look of sheer horror on my daughter's face made it clear she would carry the emotional scars of this moment for the rest of her life.

"OHMYGAWD!" she shrieked in the sort of high-pitched whine that can bore its way through the steel hull of an aircraft carrier, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?"

It was, to say the least, an awkward moment. Unlike myself, my wife has always felt honesty is the best policy, so she told my daughter the unvarnished truth.

"I'm trimming your father's toenails," she sniffed, holding up a tiny pair of scissors as evidence of her complicity in this unnatural act.

There was a brief pause in which my daughter looked as if she was considering bursting into flames to demonstrate her revulsion at the sight of her father's deformed feet in her mother's hands.

"Eeeeeeeeeeew!" she finally screeched. "That's s-o-o-o-o-o-o disgusting!"

And then she stormed out in a dramatic manner that implied we had left a dark stain on her youthful psyche.

The truth is, this is just the kind of unfortunate thing that happens when you have been married as long as I have. One moment you are a young newlywed who ensures the bathroom door is locked to prevent your spouse from seeing you perform vital bodily functions, whereas the next moment you are a wizened creature approaching the love of your life, clutching tiny scissors, and asking: "Sweetheart, would you mind trimming my toenails?"

I would perform this objectionable task myself, but, tragically, I have reached a point in life where, from a sheer physical fitness perspective, it is all but impossible for me to touch my own toes, let alone wield a sharp instrument without severing an innocent digit.

The first time I asked my wife for help in this area of personal hygiene, she looked at me the way she looks at the dogs when they have an accident on the living room carpet, then muttered something along the lines of: "You sicken me!"

Now, I have many wonderful qualities as a husband, but attractive feet are not one of them. I possess what my wife calls "Hobbit feet," meaning they are overly large, hairy and capped by toenails that, if left to grow, become as long and sharp as an American bald eagle's talons.

Fortunately for me, my wife eventually changed her tune. This happened because I am one of those sleepers who flip-flops in bed all night long and, on occasion, lashes out with his feet as if kicking an imaginary soccer ball.

"Aaaaaargh!" is what my wife shrieked one night when one of my jagged nails connected with her unprotected ankle under the covers.

So now, every few months, we will park ourselves on the couch in the den and my wife, trying not to inhale, will give me the world's fastest pedicure.

My fragile daughter is slowly returning to normal, but the other night I gave her a taste of her own medicine when I strolled into the den unannounced and saw something that sickened me.

There they were, my daughter and her boyfriend, cuddling on the couch, watching an old episode of Jersey Shore.

"Dear God, no one needs to see something like that!" I grunted in fatherly disgust as I seized the remote control and switched to the Golf Channel.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 25, 2013 A2

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