Archive for February, 2016
I was a life long nail biter. My grandmother tried to bribe, shame, incentivize, enact consequences, and every other way coerce me to stop. I tried. I would stop for small periods of time, enough to collect the reward (or be disqualified from the vague punishment), but then I would relapse. It was a tough habit to break!
However, on February 2001, I decided to stop for good. I had the willpower. I was going to do it. I did! It took several years before I learned how to properly use nail clippers, scissors, and nail files and stuff (I still bit the nails when they got too long, what I considered “for maintenance” and not out of habit), but now I can say I have the knack!
Every year on my anti-nail biting anniversary, I make a tentative plan to get a manicure, but never do. I have always been fascinated by the concept of getting one’s nails done– it seemed to be something all women did, regardless of ethnicity, socioeconomic status, regional inhabitation etc. When I worked at Cornell, every woman, from the lowliest trailer dweller to the fanciest professor went to regular nail appointments. I was curious to see what a manicure was like, as manicures seemed to be the Great Social Equalizer. In a small city such as Ithaca, rich and poor alike went to the same nail salons, as there weren’t that many.
This year, I was determined to actually follow through on my manicure plan. I got my friend Athena to come with me, and I found a place not far from home to go. I was a little apprehensive because I had read this article, and didn’t want to support what is essentially slavery in the industry, but the place I picked seemed legit.
The place I went was in a building that used to be a real estate office where I had been contracted to take care of the plants when I was a plant care person years ago, so that was a little odd. It looked totally different now, though–the inside was well-lit and cheery, instead of the dark paneled “professional” look, staffed by disgruntled but immaculately dressed women who clearly hated their jobs of yore.
I sat down at the fingernail painting place, and the friendly Chinese women looked at my hands and said “oh, you have kids?”
“no,” I replied
“You don’t? No kids?” she seemed confused.
“No really. No kids.” Then I looked at my hands and discovered that they were covered in pink and green marker because I had been experimenting with coloring Barbie hair. This is business as usual for me, but I guess in the real world this is a sure sign of reproduction!
“Why no kids?” she asked.
“Too expensive.” I said. She laughed. Then asked
“You have boyfriend?”
“No,” I said, and she laughed again and patted my arm.
“Oh, but you so beautiful!” she said, and then, sadly “no boyfriend.”
Later, she kept saying “Next time you get red!” and held up a bottle of red nail polish and motioned to my fingernails.
“OK.” I said. “Maybe next time.” She laughed.
She brought up the red nail polish a few more times.
“Red is lucky. It’s a good color…” I said.
She laughed and said “Yes! Very lucky!” then she grabbed my shoulder and whispered in my ear “maybe you will be lucky and get boyfriend!” and then laughed.
Uh… I think it will take a little more than red fingernails for me to get lucky!
But hey, you never know. I never paint my nails red; I always paint them blue or green or purple or something. Maybe if I painted my nails red I would have to use those hands to fight off all the men who will be throwing themselves at me! Somehow I doubt it.
Anyway, my first nail experience was an interesting anthropological experiment. I’m not sure I will ever do it again, as it seems kind of a lot of money for what amounts to having your nails painted. I’m not sure I see the appeal. The people I used to work with would go to get their nails done on a regular basis! How often are you “supposed” to do this? I still have no clue. Maybe I should go and get long fake bejeweled fingernails with, like, sunsets airbrushed on them or something. Maybe then I will understand the allure.