Going from toe to toe with best clipper today

November 04, 1994|By MIKE ROYKO

A female co-worker sat down in my office, a look of distaste on her face, and said: 'Toenails? How disgusting. Couldn't you find something less offensive and more relevant to write about?'

Which just shows how little some media people know about America, its people, their problems, needs, hopes and dreams.

I reached under the desk and brought out a big cardboard crate, filled with letters.

"Read them," I said.

"What are they about?" she said.

"Toenails. They are all from people pleading to know where they can buy that amazing clipper."

Just then the phone rang. I listened a moment, then said: "If your drugstore doesn't carry them, tell him to order some."

The phone rang again. And again and again. Each time it was a request for information about where the amazing Easy Hold toenail clipper could be found.

"All over the country," I said. "This has been going on for days."

"People are weird," she said, heading for the door. "And I still think it is a disgusting topic."

Maybe so. But I seem to have touched a deep wellspring of frustration and despair in the American spirit.

It began two weeks ago, when I wrote a column about the agony of cutting one's toenails and how I found happiness with the Easy Hold clipper.

Nothing I have written in years has brought such an outpouring of mail and phone calls.

One elderly woman sounded near tears as she said: "Bless you, my boy. My fingers are weak and my spine is brittle. But for the first time in memory I am able to cut my toenails with an effortlessness I have not felt since my youth."

And an elderly man wrote: "For the rest of my days, when I look with happiness at my neatly trimmed toes, I shall think of you."

The rewards of this job go beyond the paycheck.

The same thing has been happening to Ric Rommerdale, 52, the retired Navy man who invented the Easy Hold clipper while working as head of lab technology at the University of Mississippi's dental school.

"It's been beyond my wildest dreams," says Rommerdale, who must have rather prim dreams for a Navy guy.

"The phones are non-stop. All over the country. We've been getting one call every 10 minutes for days now. Then I go home, and the tape on my message machine is just about worn out.

"Had a message from a guy in Pittsburgh, who was real upset. He said: 'Look, I've been riding around all day with my wife looking for one of those toenail things, and I want you to pick up the phone right now because I'm on my car phone and I want you to tell me where the heck I can get this thing and get it over with.'

"Can you imagine? Spending $12 for a long-distance call on a car phone, all for a $3 clipper?

"My family is kind of giggly. My daughter is sort of 'oh, wow,' about it. But she's 30 and is kind of oh-wowie anyway.

"I talk to everyone who calls. And I take down the names of those who are on my message machine and I get back to them."

Unfortunately, many people cannot find the Easy Hold clipper. That's not my fault, or that of the inventor or the manufacturer, the W.E. Bassett Co. in Shelton, Conn.

But stores have to order them from distributors first. And I am shocked to learn how few drugstores -- chains and independents -- seem to give a hoot about the toes of their customers.

They sell all sorts of frivolous gunk for their hair, face and armpits.

But ask them for the finest toenail clipping aid since the days of Roman slaves, and many say: "Never heard of it."

So it is up to you as a consumer to demand that they hear of it, find it, order it and serve mankind with something besides gunk for the hair and armpits.

In my dreams, I can see the golden day when those sharp slivers no longer whiz across the room, endangering loved ones.

A day when everyone can point to their feet and say: "I am proud to be an American, land of the brave, the free and the world's most perfectly trimmed toes."

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