The Medi Pedi Tribe

The flowers and pins from my hair
The flowers and pins from my hair

Charlene flew in from Vancouver for Athena’s wedding on Saturday, so she was at the Round House with us for our weekly Business Meeting.  The four of us sat at the end of one of the long tables eating omelets and sipping smoothies when Athena asked if anyone know someone who did Medi Pedi.  I sat dumbly staring at the three of them, “I don’t know what that is,” I said.   When Mandy explained that it was a manicure and pedicure, I surprised myself by actually knowing that Liz (cousin of the groom and hair dresser to almost everyone in our part of Washington County) did Medi Pedi.  When Jon and I were getting married, she offered to give me one as a wedding gift.  I declined.  The last time I paid that kind of attention to my nails was when I was in Junior High School.  Plus, it made me nervous.  I had avoided getting my hair professionally cut for most of my adult life.  This kind of girly grooming stuff is still pretty unknown to me.

But for some reason, when Athena invited all the girls going to the wedding to stop at Liz’s to get flowers put in their hair the morning of the wedding, I jumped at it.  I asked Kim if she wanted to go together.  I knew if I didn’t go with someone, I would chicken out.  And like I said, a part of me wanted to go.  It wasn’t like Liz was making up our faces (I’ve never worn makeup), or painting or nails, she was putting  flowers in our hair.  Even I had worn flowers in my hair before.

When Kim and I got there, there were at least 15 cars parked in front of Liz’s shop, which is next to her house on a rural country road.  I felt the fear rise up in me.  I knew if I wasn’t with Kim I would have turned the car around and driven home.  But I was with Kim and as we walked up the driveway, she knew several women who were coming and going.  Little girls were running around in pretty dresses,  their hair in banana curls and flowers.

Athena anointed us with hugs and perfume on the inside of each wrist.  Mandy showed up with her teen-aged daughter Delaney and while Liz straightened Delaney’s hair (it seems women with straight hair want curls and women with curls want straight hair) Kim removed the old nail polish from Mandy’s nails.  A woman walked by, her stomach wrapped in Saran wrap.  Along with doing hair and nails, Liz is now offering the latest way to lose weight, which has to do with a special lotion and saran wrap.   I sat sipping a plastic  cup of sweet white wine watching it all.  These women and girls were good at this, they knew just what to do.  Somehow I had never learned this part of being a girl.

And as I watched and eventually sat in the chair while Liz pinned flowers in my hair,  I realized what we were doing wasn’t about the flowers or curls or nails or losing weight. It was like some sort of ancient grooming ritual, updated.  We were doing the same thing that  chimps  do when they pick grubs and lice off of each other.  The same thing I do when I brush the donkeys in the morning.  We were bonding, on a level  that didn’t include words and differences and past histories.  Whether we knew each other or didn’t this was a way for us to safely be together and a way of acknowledging our sameness.  We had all come together for the same reason, we all belonged.  And at least of a few hours, we were all a part of the  same tribe.

17 thoughts on “The Medi Pedi Tribe

  1. Um. Maria? That’s mani pedi, not medi pedi. As in manicure pedicure. “Mani pedi”. If we’re going to be part of the same tribe (I loved that image) we need to speak the same language. :)) Loved your post.

  2. Oh Maria! This bonding is so perfectly and beautifully described.
    Sounds like you had fun and I loved reading about it.
    Love from Fran
    Jericho, Vermont

  3. Ha ha, my girls always complain that they had to learn how to do make up and hair from the internet. Just not my thing. If that’s their biggest complaint I’m ok with it.

  4. Oh Maria we are birds of a feather……thanks for writing something that read like you were writing about me. Loved it. Hope you had fun at the wedding.

  5. I so relate to the ‘never getting the girly grooming stuff’. But I appreciate the way you related it in a positive vein. The make-up, the foof and fluff, the camaraderie in belonging to a tribe; I honestly never saw it that way!
    [Ironically, there was an ad for How To Enhance Eyelashes directly below this post]…tee hee, the marketers are also paying attention!!!!

  6. I love your description! I have daughters who keep me up on these kind of things or I would be as clueless as you. I’m glad you were able to enjoy a new experience.

  7. Maria, I am in awe of your bravery! I agree with your view of the day very much. I’ve been invited to such events – rituals, but could never bring myself to go. Maybe I’ve missed out on something fun? Thanks for sharing…

  8. Well Maria, you certainly hit a vein in me! I actually had tears at the end. I never grew up with anything girlie. My mother died when I was just almost 9 and my father was overwhelmed left with me and a week old son. My sisters, all much older, and mostly all already away from home were scattered about. There was never a strong feminine quality to my upbringing. Sure I had aunts that were involved, but they all had there lives and when you live with just males, that’s the prevalence, at least in the deep south. So, there are times I long for the feminine flourishes, or the ability to be comfortable with them. Thanks for expressing it all so eloquently and in such an accessible way. wishing you peace…..

  9. This is a lovely story! I was in on many such “bonding rituals” growing up in a large family with many female cousins. Back in the 60’s and 70’s we didn’t do much about fingernails and never toenails, but we did help one another with making dresses and flowers in our hair for such occasions. Annie

  10. You are so right about the bonding ritual. My sister and daughter love mani pedis. Me, not so much. But it makes me happy when they get to share it as their own special bond.

  11. Maria I loved your story. I was raised by my father in an era when that just wasnt done unless your father happened to be a widower (and mine wasn’t – my parents were divorced). I never learned the girly things either – I can ride a horse, rope a steer, etc. but doing hair etc. were things I didn’t learn. To this day, I am still more comfortable in a room full of men than a room full of women. However, as I grow older I’ve made it a disciple to learn to sew, to become comfortable taking care of myself (mani/pedis) even when I sometimes have to grit my teeth to make myself go. I like your use of the word “tribe” maybe what I am doing is finally learning to be part of the tribe. Thanks for sharing that story. I think women need to learn to be kinder to one another. I’ve always thought on that score men were wiser than we were.

    1. Growing up in my home, the idea of being a woman couldn’t compare to the idea of being a man. But, it’ seems, Eileen, I’m finally learning the secrets of being a woman and how they are just as valid.

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