For the most part, JJ Vincent strives to be invisible. But then there are those toes!
I look forward to flip-flop season. In Alabama, this is roughly April to November. I have casual flips, dress flips, thick squishy lavender flips I can wear for days. Why do I look forward to this season?
My toes. More specifically, decorating them.
This is one of my not-so-secret secrets. I love having sparkly toenails. I have at least 30 bottles of polish, mostly colored glitter. I’ll wear a base color with 1-3 colors of glitter over it. Green and silver. Black and Red. Orange and Silver and Purple. Yellow and orange. Pink and pinker and pinker. No team colors, because they last thing I want to do is take my accidentally-Auburn toes into Alabama territory.
In most other ways, I blend in. Cargo shorts or jeans. T-shirts or short sleeve buttondowns. Short hair. Black geek glasses. A handful of tattoos, none that can be seen when I wear work clothes. Pierced ears. Somewhat androgynous, but otherwise pretty normal, if much younger than my years.
But I cannot resist the siren song of the sparkly.
I know this is a contradiction. Most of the time, I try to be invisible. My size and stature don’t make me stand out in a crowd. I like this. I can count on less than two hands the number of people who have flirted with me in the last 8 years. I move through holiday stores without being offered a splash of this or a smell of this. I’m rarely accosted by people asking for money or a cigarettes. I don’t read things that will draw undo attention (ok, I dance in public, but that is another post). I try to avoid confrontation, my own or anyone else’s.
But when the weather’s good enough for flips, it’s good enough for polish.
I used to make up excuses when people would ask me about it. “My friend’s little girl wanted to play Beauty Shop,”, I would say. Or, “I lost a bet.” Or, “I was hanging out with some girlfriends and they were painting nails, so I let them do mine.” After doing this for years, I finally stopped. I came out (as my partner calls me) as, “Glitter Boy”.
The only person decorating my toes is me.
Believe me, people notice. Especially kids. They look at your toes, look at you, look at your toes, look away. The adults who notice it don’t usually ask. Occasionally I can see a kid screw up their courage and blurt out, “Why are your toes sparkly?” I answer honestly. “Because I like them that way.”
I do. I like them that way.
This is not a political statement. There is no attempt to subvert the stereotypical male stereotype. I am not trying to get people to question anything about their assumptions. I don’t care if people think I should or should not paint me toes. If they see my toes in the men’s room, well, let me just say you would not go in there unless you had to.
Occasionally, I’ll even go plain. Just color, no flash.
Two Saturdays ago, a cashier I know in a retail shop told me she wanted to see teal, no glitter or glitz, just teal. I went back the next day and showed her teal. I had it on hand, so why not? It made her happy in the midst of back-to-school shopping madness. It made the morning a mad dash, because I was running late for a volleyball game. But what’s a little frantic scrubbing with acetone to make a woman smile?
Before the teal, it was ruby slipper red. As in Dorothy’s ruby slippers.
One weekend, I even matched my gauged earrings (6g) to my toenails. Ruby red glitter arches. Normal for a 39-year-old guy? Nope. Did I care?
Nope. Because I liked it. Did anyone notice. Don’t know. Wasn’t paying attention.
I recently made a friend, a guy named C. We bonded over our toenails. He is purple and black. I am glitter and shine.
You never know how you’ll meet a kindred spirit.
photo by shannonkringen / flickr