I had a fish pedicure | HumorOutcasts

I had a fish pedicure

August 21, 2014

Fish Pedicure

Video Clip:  Suzette Standring Gets a Fish Pedicure

In France I had a fish pedicure where scores of fishes nibbled away at my tootsies. When I read the signs, “Fish Pedicure” and “Fish Massage,” I joined the gawkers at the front of the salon to peer in at two young girls with feet immersed in their own individual fish tanks. Suddenly, it seemed like a good idea. I said to my husband, “Give me 11 euros and come back in 15 minutes.”

David and I were visiting Aigues-Mortes, an ancient walled town in the Petit Camargue region of Southern France. Giant stone ramparts of its fortress encircle the medieval village. After two hours of touring and shopping, my dogs were yapping! Why not try a foot soak with fishes?

French Salon Guy led me to a white tiled footbath where my feet were soaped and rinsed. “So how does the fish pedicure work?” I asked.

He explained the tiny fish nibble away at dead skin, an au natural way to smoother feet.

“You mean they eat skin?” I asked, slightly pulling my toes away.

“No, no. Zey nibble and spit it out,” he said as he briskly dried my newly washed feet.

I was led to a sparkling clean tank with dozens of tiny black fishes.   “Slowly lower your feet into zey watah,” he said.

I did and immediately, schools of fish clustered around my feet and the buzz began. No, there wasn’t any sound, but it felt like buzzing. It was ticklish, and just a tiny bit scary, like little bubbles with teeth nibbling at my ankles.

My face went into contortions, the universal language of yow, eek, is this going to hurt, and what am I doing?

I tried very hard not to imagine the fish as the tiny, more refined French cousins of piranhas. Actually, the species are Garra rufa, kangal fish or doctor fish, which originate in the Middle East. They have been used in spa treatments for skin conditions because they work to expose new skin. The practice is not widely done in the U.S. and has been banned in a few states. The Center for Disease Control lists some reasons.

At first it felt freaky to feel my pedicure “go live” and French Salon Guy tried to reassure me by pointing to a different tank. “You would feel it even more in zat tank because zose fishes zey are bigger.”

Well, the next adventurous patron was seated at “zat tank.” When “zose bigger fishes” glommed onto her tootsies, her body language went into scream mode, even though she was trying to stay quiet and not to shoot out of her seat. Her friend at the next tank nearly wet herself laughing.

By now I was a pro. I sat back, looking down at the crystal waters in my pedicure fish tank, feeling slightly more at ease. If I didn’t allow my mind to wander into the bad neighborhoods of man-eating fish, or worse, man eating pedicure-fed fish, it felt rather pleasant.

Brrrrrring! My fifteen minutes were up. I rose from my tank and my feet were once again soaped, rinsed and dried. Were my feet noticeably different? Well, not really, but in comparison my own manicurist has to scour and brush my feet to beauty. Did I really think a 15-minute nibbling would achieve the same results? Definitely, more tank time would be needed. Fresher feet through fish – now who knew?

Suzette Martinez Standring

Greetings from Suzette Martinez Standring! I write humor and lifestyle columns, and since 2007 I've been nationally syndicated for my spirituality columns with GateHouse Media, proving that God indeed has a sense of humor. I wrote The Art of Opinion Writing: Insider Secrets from Top Op-Ed Columnists (2014), which is used in university journalism courses, such as Johns Hopkins University. I also wrote The Art of Column Writing: Insider Secrets from Art Buchwald, Dave Barry, Arianna Huffington, Pete Hamill and Other Great Columnists (2008). I host a Milton (MA) cable, It's All Write With Suzette, that features guest authors and columnists. Watch episodes on youtube and vimeo.com My big love is teaching writing workshops nationally, and someday making money from all of this will approach my level of enthusiasm. It's very high so that's quite a goal. Nice to meet you! Email Suzette Standring: suzmar@comcast.net or visit www.readsuzette.com

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12 Responses to I had a fish pedicure

  1. August 22, 2014 at 11:47 pm

    I’ve always wondered what these fish pedicures would feel like. Still freaks me out, though. DYING LAUGHING over Linda Roy’s comment! BAHAHA!!!!!

    • August 23, 2014 at 9:39 am

      I know, Linda Roy’s inner mind neighborhood is much scarier than mine! (And don’t we love it!)

  2. August 21, 2014 at 11:53 pm

    Good thing it wasn’t a fish Brazillian wax.

    • August 22, 2014 at 9:03 am

      HAHAHAHAA! Linda, that was the FIRST laugh of my morning. Ouchies Now why did you have to put THAT visual into my mind? Ewwwww!

  3. August 21, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    Wow! So brave! What a great adventure!

    • August 22, 2014 at 9:02 am

      Sarah, you know what was weird? I moved my feet around and it’s like they were clinging to my ankles. I don’t think it will ever catch on in the U.S. I think Jaws is too imprinted into our cultural psyche.

  4. August 21, 2014 at 6:25 pm

    All I can say is I hope I never get tossed into Zat tank with Zose bigger fishes!

    • August 22, 2014 at 9:00 am

      Mary, I don’t know what possessed me. That’s how hot and tired my feet felt. All that sparkly water and swishy fish looked appealing. YOWSERS!

  5. Bill Y Ledden
    August 21, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    Fish are just little sharks without massive teeth, who don’t attack people!

    • August 21, 2014 at 5:54 pm

      Oh, yes, Bill, micro sharks. They simply nibble, but what is it about the brain that causes outsized, chunk-pulling fears?

  6. August 21, 2014 at 9:37 am

    So is this a new version of “swimming with the fishes”. A new mob hobby: fish pedicures? BTW, love your French accent. 🙂

    • August 21, 2014 at 5:55 pm

      Zose fishes made my skin crawl before it was nibbled away. Za whole sing was really somesing!

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