I love it when pedicurists work on my feet. The first time, a pale wraith of a boy in Shenzhen grimaced delicately as he chipped and shaved the fat calluses on from my balls and heels. Two days ago, the pedicurist in Beijing worked with an air of focused resignation as he examined my soles and my toes. Then he solemnly unrolled a green picture-sheet of various toenails, chipped, bruised, detached. Homemade herbal remedy. He could save my little black toes, before they unfolded in similar contagion across my other eight.
The catch. 200 yuan a toenail.
I said No.
Well, nobody ever died of black toe, did they? That's what dancers' toes look like, whether it's pointe shoes or floorwork. Corns, calluses, bruised nails and plenty of studio-seasoned dirt. The least gorgeous and most essential part of the performing body, the more seasoned the better. I figured as soon as I go back to school in 2 weeks' time they'd revert to whatever damaged state they were already in.
But all the same, it shook me up enough to make me do a bit of my own web research for a professional opinion on black nails. I wasn't anxious to end up like my friend Lu Yi who took her RAD exam with a fungal infection and a fat dose of painkillers. This is from the doctors who write for Dance Magazine, "Foot care for barefoot dancers" and "Foot care for pointe shoes".
Maybe I'll take better care of my feet next year.