My least favorite grooming ritual is the pedicure. For some reason, as we age, our toenails become thicker and tougher, nearly impervious to progressively powerful trimming implements. My next effort may need to involve a chainsaw and 80-grit sandpaper. It would not surprise me to learn that anthropologists have a formula for gauging the age of a human by counting the rings on discarded toenail clippings.

Toenail clippings are a frequent source of domestic discord in my household. There are very few domestic duties which I consider to be beneath me, but crawling around on my hands and knees picking other people’s toenail clippings out of the carpet is one of them. This is a fact I have pointed out to my family loudly and often, to no avail.

Nothing startles and infuriates me as much as sauntering into the living room just as that tell-tale crescent of cartilage, recently liberated from its digit, whizzes past my ear like the bullet fired from a slightly myopic sniper. It lands in the plush carpet, where it skulks among the fibers like a hungry lioness lurking in the tall savannah grasses. It lies in wait, only to lash out at my bare feet.

There is way too much maintenance involved in the upkeep of an aging body. I recently had to add another one.

I developed a minor and unusual health issue regarding my navel. Being a worrier by nature, I imagined all sorts of dire causes and outcomes as I waited for my upcoming doctor’s appointment.

“What is it, Doc?” I might ask as she probes my navel with various apparatus.

“I am afraid that you have a tumor,” she might say.

“Give it to me straight, Doc. How big is it?”

And then she might say, “About the size of an orange.”

“Are you telling me that I have a navel orange? Is this some kind of joke? Am I on Funniest Home Videos? Where is the hidden camera? Is this the microphone?” I might ask, grabbing her stethoscope and shouting into it.

Considering this possibility, I might write a letter to the Tropicana Orange Juice Company, offering to open negotiations for a lucrative contract as a television spokesperson.

As the director shouts, “Lights! Camera! Action!” I could take a drink  from a tall frosty glass of their orange juice, then hold up an X-ray of my abdomen and deliver my tagline, “Tropicana and my navel orange; I never leave home without them.”

My dreams of fame and fortune as a spokesman for the orange juice industry vanished when my doctor diagnosed a minor infection. I did not have a tumor the size of an orange, or any other citrus fruit. It was suggested that I prod and clean my navel with a cotton swab and hydrogen peroxide twice a day. Oh, goody. Another grooming ritual.

I felt it was only fair to contact the Tropicana Company and let them know that I would not be their spokesperson after all.

“Dear Tropicana,” I might write, “Even though our professional relationship never blossomed, I would like to know how you and the other members of the Florida Citrus Growers feel about the common practice of describing tumors as citrus fruits. After all, it does not work in reverse. One does not ask the produce clerk for a grapefruit the size of a tumor. Have you considered filing a lawsuit against the medical profession for malicious malignment of produce?” Sincerely, Denise Thiery.

I was severely depressed about the loss of my dream of a career as a product spokesperson until I remembered that I have a birthmark shaped just like a pretzel on my left buttock.

“Dear Mr. Salty Company…”

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