Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Best Combat Pedicure in Iraq

After having traveled to many of the major bases in Iraq, I feel it’s time to announce the winner of the “Best Combat Pedicure” contest.

At Camp Anaconda, I had a decent pedicure, but the pedicurist went chintzy on the massage at the end. If that’s not reason enough for instant disqualification, then the shoddy pedicure they gave my friend, Ryan, is.

It took me months to convince Ryan of the importance of combat pedicures to proper foot care in the war zone. So I felt particularly bad when he came back with bleeding feet. Camp Anaconda is completely out of the running for best combat pedicure.

Al Asad Air Base, a Marine installation in western Iraq, had a facility that offered pedicures for the usual rate, $7. For anyone who still considers combat pedicures as antithetical to military machismo, consider the kind of guts it takes for a Soldier to walk into a room full of Marines and ask for a pedicure. It doesn’t get manlier than that.

Everyone stared at me and the proprietor quietly explained that that particular service wasn’t available because of lack of interest. I guess Marines just don’t understand good foot care. Al Asad is out.

The Q-West Base Complex in northern Iraq has a Turkish group that does pedicures, manicures and half-hour massages. I was excited to sample the massage since good muscle alignment is also critical to combat readiness. However, when I got to the facility, I found it was more of a dirty shack. All I could think of was the torture scene in “Lawrence of Arabia.” I passed. Q-West is out.

Camp Diamondback, next to Mosul, Iraq, offers pedicures for the standard rate. Mia, the pedicurist, and her co-workers found it hilarious that a male soldier wanted a pedicure. As my feet soaked, she grilled me:

“Are you married?”
“To a woman?”
“Do you have children?”
“Yes, I have a new daughter.”

This seemed to please her and she ran giggling back to the other ladies who all erupted in Tagalog. When she came back, she explained that they were all betting that I wasn’t married. I showed her my ring to reassure her.

The pedicure was definitely the best in Iraq. Mia explained to me that the key to a good pedicure was the massage. I couldn’t agree more. In fact, she used to be a massage therapist at Camp Diamondback until a nasty incident a few months prior when a male soldier accused one of the massage therapists of sexual harassment. After that, the Camp Diamondback command outlawed massages, leaving Mia to do pedicures.

Massage therapy’s loss it pedicure’s gain. Mia and her team at Camp Diamondback win the award “Best Combat Pedicure.”

photo: Mia, second from the right, has three children and has been working in Iraq for over 2 1/2 years. I asked her how long she would stay. "Until I find an Iraqi husband," she said laughing.


Blogger Tim said...

Well,in the photo, the only two left here are the ladies on both ends. I guess Mia found her Iraqi husband. Now it is VERY common to find the soldiers, male and female as well as male civilians getting pedicures.

Nice blog you have going here. I have been on FOB Marez for over two years now. Can't wait for that yummy (?) KBR supplied turkey roll, white or brown, on Thanksgiving.. I actually had REAL Turkey with the Iraqi Army in 2005 in Tall 'Afar.. We know how KBR is anyway...

12:58 PM  

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