Unlike Jessie, opportunities for estrogen parties in my home are few and far between. But every two weeks, I break free of my Mothers of Brothers shackles and flee to the place where I can join my “sisters” in unity and celebrate all that is holy about the feminine mystique.
I high tail it to the local nail salon.
I go with the best intentions of relaxing and treating myself to a bit of good old fashion girl-on-girl pampering. But as time goes by, I have come to realize that this place delivers anything but respite and relief. Deftly operated by two Vietnemese sisters and staffed with scores of technicians, this place is a finely tuned capitalistic torture chamber disguised as day spa. The stress begins almost immediately as I walk in the door and am descended upon:What you want today? Manicure and pedicure. Eyebrow wax.
Like an idiot, I use my own lame version of sign language to symbolize my selection, pointing to my fingernails, toenails and eyebrows as if these women don’t understand the very words that solely comprise their thriving business. They nod curtly and give instructions:Pick color.
And so the pressure begins. I approach The Wall of 1000 Colors, squinting to make out the distinction between shades called “Wicked” and “Lacy Not Racy.” They look identical in the tiny bottles but on the toes they are deeply dark sinister red and a velvety vintage burgundy. Duh. Given that I lack the balls to ask for a new color if I don’t like the look of what goes on, this choice is even more critical. What mood am I in? If I’m feeling like an “Italian Love Affair” a.k.a. light pink, will the love last for two weeks? I ponder more highly unintuitive names. Adore-A-Ball. Spaghetti Strap. Chubby Cheeks. Spalsh of Grenadine. At last I feel it. Wicked toes. Ballet Slippers fingers. I grab the two bottles and sit down.
As the technicians set to work on my feet and fingers simultaneous, I close my eyes, sigh deeply and fantasize about my royal stature. Life is good….
YOU WANT EXTRA FOOT MASSAGE????!!! 10 MINUTES – 5 DOLLARS!
I open my eyes to see the owner standing in front of me. Our eyes meet. Game on.No thanks. I’m good.
HOW BOUT SPA PEDICURE? WE REMOVE YOUR CALLOUS! EXTRA $10!I need my calluses for running.
NECK MASSAGE?? ONE DOLLAR EACH MINUTE!
I cave. I have absolutely no powers against the neck massage girl. I agree to 10 minutes knowing I will tell her to keep going for at least 20 it feels so good. They know this. Still the owner is not done with me yet.
MINI FACIAL TOO? JUST $15 DOLLARS?No thanks. The $60 dollars I am now spending is all I am budgeted for today.
She slinks away as Lu, the massage girl, begins to rub my neck. I now have three technicians working on me at once making me feel like an old automobile getting a major tune up. A fourth girl sits down and begins rubbing one of my feet.
Wait? Didn’t I decline the foot massage? The foot rub girl looks up and smiles at me. I guess I’m getting a foot rub. Language barrier? I have my doubts.
The next 20 minutes is an exercise in sensation equilibrium that I have never been able to hit just right. During the climax of my hand massage (when the technician pushes her thumb deep into my palm and releases every ounce of tension in my body), the pedicure girl begins to scrub the skin off the bottoms of my feet with a Brillo pad. When Lu hits the spot on my shoulder that has been knotted for days, the nail girl tells me it is now time to pay. And when I am about to enjoy my long anticipated foot rub, the eyebrow waxer appears.You want eyebrow wax, right? Yes. How about lip wax? Not today. You sure?? She gives me the hand sign that, while I can’t be sure ,seems to indicate that I have a moustache that rivals that of Tom Selleck. Ok – do the lip!
As the pedicure girl hits the sweet spot in the arch of my foot, the waxer rips the scalding strip from my top lip and the nail technician collects an extra $6 for the service.
I shuffle over the drying area and sit with all the other royal beauty queens with freshly shellacked fingers and toes ands welts on their faces. Time goes slowly under the nail dryer and my lack of patience gets the better of me. As I pay out more than $20 in tips, I ding my thumb nail before I high tail it to the safety of my home where the husband and boys notice nothing of my newly painted, rubbed, moisturized, exfoliated and waxed self and instead ask me why women do these things.
And for once, I have no answers.