Yesterday, I'm doing lunchtime laps at Tanglewood Mall trying to get in my required hour of exercise, when I pass this nail store lap after lap. I read the sign and determine that a manicure is $10. I've never had a manicure and I'm thinking, "Why not?" Last time I was walking a mall and had one of these thoughts, I was passing an earring kiosk that offered free piercing. I went home with an earring.
So, I finish my walk, enter the parlor (I guess that's what you call it) and talk to this spike-haired Cambodian guy who directs me to this pleasant, chubby woman who speaks fractured English, pulls out her tools and directs me to stick my hands into hot water.
She's smiling the whole time, talking a streak in a language that sounds like it might have it might have some English in there somewhere ("You from around here?") and snipping away at various pieces of my fingers, cutting three of them and drawing blood. She applies some kind of liquid on the cuts and doesn't even slow down on the hand job (sorry, couldn't resist that).
I notice that her tools, the floor, the mirrors, nearly everything at the shop has defied the cleaning lady. I'm slightly put off by the dirty clippers, but I don't say anything after announcing to her, "This is my first time, be gentle." She has no idea what I'm talking about.
About halfway through this process of soaking, probing, snipping, applying liquids from various bottles, she asks me, "You want color [she prounouces it culu]?" and grins widely. "My wife might be suspicious of that," I say, grinning back at her. "Oh," she says, "you have wife [pronounce that wi as in Wi-fi)?" leaving the impression that she figured a guy who'd get a manicure couldn't have a wife.
After about 15 minutes--and an application of some kind of clear nail polish--I'm directed to a light table so the polish can dry. "You pay me when dry," she reminds and I did. Even tipped her 20 percent, even though what I thought was going to be a makeover was my hands as they were with a little less cuticle, a little more blood and a nice sheen from the polish. I was underwhelmed by the experience, but, hey, anything new's good for a while.
(Update: A friend from Lynchburg added the following, citing the experience of her daughter, an entertainer: "Since beautiful [and healthy] hands and feet are part of her stage make-up, she has all her nails attended to on a regular basis in a salon. "BUT," she continued, "I NEVER let them use any of their implements. I always bring my own set of beauty tools for them to use only on me. I take care of the cleaning and sterilizing of them myself ... at home." The friend also wonders who regulates the cleanliness in these salons and directs me to find out. Right now. I will.)