The nail salon that I, well, I was going to say "frequent" but I think that's inaccurate. It suggests a greater commitment to nail care than I seem to have. Largely this is because, though I enjoy the result of pedicures, I do not enjoy pedicures themselves. My strategy is: have a pedicure, wait for nails to become dangerously long such that my socks are in peril, then have another. I might slightly alter this routine if there were any danger of accidentally sleep-slicing someone else's leg open, but that, alas, is not a current concern.
What were we talking about? Right. The nail salon that I patronize is small and inexpensive (perhaps, in part, because they have not bought a new nail color in at least the past three years, helping keep their overhead low). There are four ladies who work there: the owner who mostly does waxing and is kind of lousy at nails, though don't tell her I said so; the older, very gentle lady who I always pray will be there, but who does not work every day; the quite gentle lady; and the woman who embraces a tough-love approach to foot care, the thoroughness and vigor of which might be better practiced upon cadavers. (Do morticians do any nail work? I think she'd be ideal.)
The last four times I've been, I've gotten the tough-love woman. The whole experience is agonizing (perhaps I have freakishly sensitive feet? I don't know. They're the only ones I've ever had, so I have nothing to compare them to), but she does not alter her style based on the flinching and writhing and embarrassing kicky reflexes it engenders. I hate everything about it, yet I am too much of a wimp to refuse service from her and wait for the very gentle lady or the reasonably gentle lady.
Yesterday, I thought I was a shoo-in for the reasonably gentle lady (the very gentle lady wasn't there) who greeted me with smiles of genuine recognition, filled the basin with water for me, and draped the "you're wearing a skirt" modesty towel over my knees. We were at last reunited! My relief was palpable. Meanwhile the tough-love lady was busy with someone else's manicure. Ha! But then, having gotten me settled, [cue ominous organ music] the reasonably gentle lady called another patron into the waxing room. It was a race against the clock. For ten tense minutes my eyes darted between the closed waxing room door and the manicure station. Please let it just be eyebrows, please let it just be eyebrows.... But no. The manicure was finished while the waxing door long remained firmly shut. (I assume the only hair left on that woman is on top of her head. Also, I hate her.) With her usual sturdy resignation, the tough-love lady rolled her little stool of misery over to my station and pulled my right foot firmly toward her as my hands tightened on the armrests and my knuckles whitened.
Fade to black.
Lights up on tidy toes, no longer posing a danger to myself or others, but polished in what proves to be a disappointing, rather banal shade of red. A color that, naturally, I was too cowardly to ask her to change.