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July 7, 2015

Few and Far Between

My first time was just before my sister's wedding.  I was a college student.  While there is nothing like your first time, there were a handful of others over the next few years.   Each time was equal in awesomeness and some were more colorful than others that were equally special, but after a handful of times it was hard to choose a favorite.  Typically I associate the memory with the celebrating of a special occasion.  The experience always succeeded in leaving me with a feeling of importance and classiness.  It was not something I indulged in regularly enough to consider it a habit.  The euphoric feeling and the glow wore off eventually.  The natural high came at a cost though.  Everything has its price, right?

Once I was married and financially strapped putting Coach through graduate school, paying for manicures and pedicures was no longer an option.  After all, I was busy shopping for day old bread and second hand clothes.  Making adjustments to afford the necessities made splurging on the extras seem wasteful.  I wasn't above the day old bread scene.  Frugal was my middle name.  Since I had been surviving on the measly income I was raking in before we were married, I was hardly accustomed to living on easy street to begin with, thus the nail appointments that were reserved for special occasions.  The kids started arriving in rapid succession a few months shy of our second anniversary.  With each new addition, the budget grew tighter, my nails looked crappier, and I cared less and less.

I learned that I was expecting Reggie on Mother's Day just after Mini turned 1.  Baby #5.  Laddie was just wrapping up his year as a first grader.  A few weeks later while I was still adjusting to waves of nauseousness, we were invited by the owner of Coach's company to attend a weekend with a few other couples in Kohler Wisconsin.  The men would enjoy a few rounds of golf while the ladies would be pampered during some luxurious spa time.  An outstanding dinner was part of the package.  I was thrilled!  I scheduled a pedicure in advance of the weekend fearing that I would be banned from such a fancy place if anyone witnessed the terrible, untamed appearance of my mangy feet.

It had been years.  Maybe 9 or 10?  I was shocked at the abrupt verbal assault I experienced when I walked in.  "Pick colr.  Pick colr."  The dropped second vowel confused me and I froze momentarily before I grasped what these nail natzis were ordering me to do.  My previous appointments had been in a hair salon where casual chatter and trendy music served as the tranquil back ground sound.  This entire studio dedicated to nails was a first for me.  The foreign personnel demanding 'cash, no credit' and jumping all over me to select a color was unnerving.  No relaxed atmosphere at this nail focused factory.  The results were pretty, but it became obvious later that these principals of polish had damaged the big toenail on my right foot.  Did they clean their instruments properly between their fast paced appointments?  I had my doubts. Gross.  For ages long after the nail polish had been removed, my toe nail would split down the middle and each side would gradually crumble away.  Uncomfortable and ugly.

 In January, the day before my labor to deliver Reggie was induced, I waddled into Mario Tricoci for a scheduled pedicure.  An out of town friend had discovered a gift certificate that was about to expire.  How sad that she wasn't able to use it, but how thrilled I was that she chose to share it with me!  My toes would sparkle in the stirrups the next day when the bowling ball I was carrying would be born.  Afterwards, I remember vividly shuffling thru the slush in the parking lot wearing the disposable, makeshift flip flops and struggling to lower myself into the sedan.  Coach was driving the gang in the easier-to-enter minivan, so we could meet up at a breakfast place across the street.  This would be our last hurrah before feeling overwhelmed and sleepy for what would seem like an eternity.  Making my way over to the table where Coach sat with our gaggle of squirming youngsters, I was aware of the relentless stares.  I pretended they were all admiring my toes, while in reality they were most likely in awe of my size.  I sat at an awkward angle, unable to fit my belly under the table.  I leaned across my tent-like, velour, leopard print, shirt that covered my shelf of a belly and shoveled the food into my eating-for-two pie hole.  Reggie arrived the next day a week early weighing in at 9 lbs 5 oz.

Last summer when Reggie was eight, I dipped my toe back in the proverbial pedicure waters (hoping they weren't dirty and infested) and braved the scene once again.  The color choices were endless.  Call me old fashioned but I can't wrap my brain around the peculiar shade possibly made popular by the bride of Frankenstein.  Black?  I fail to see how that can be a fitting color unless you are attending a funeral.  In addition to a wide range of socially acceptable 'freak' colors, there were high end developments since I had spent years 'unpolished'.  Nail art and acrylic nail extensions reinvented the additional ways clients could spend the money at their fingertips (and toes!).  A checker at my grocery store wears two inch long nails with fancy, bedazzled nail art on each nail.  Talk about an occupational hazard.  I avoid her line when I'm in a hurry and plan to pay with cash.  Those talons make it tough to make change or gingerly load items into a plastic bag.  Nutty.

Last week I decided to get a manicure and a pedicure before we went away for the long 4th of July weekend.  Of course I didn't have time to do both at one time.  The toes that might frighten people from the pool were a priority.  The next day I squeezed in a quick manicure in the midst of all my packing.  It had been so long, I struggled to follow simple manicure protocol.  I didn't know that I was expected to hold my hand under the fan while she worked on the next hand.  Partially because I was self conscious of my lack of manicure etiquette, I became consumed with the employees' foreign tongued conversations.  Was my rookie presence causing a chuckle?  The tones they spoke in seemed angry.  Were they ticked off at me because thanks to the language barrier I didn't understand initially the need to pay in advance so my wet nails wouldn't be marred when I fumbled for my wallet?  There was a lot of shrugging, nodding in different directions, and knowing glances followed by quick, abrupt, untranslatable phrases.  It seemed they were focused on a woman covered in tattoos.  What did she do (besides take the pressure off of me)?  Demand each toe be painted a different color?  It seems that would have gone along with her unique body aesthetics.  At one point a client walked out after her completed pedicure, and in plain view of the rest of us the employee marveled at the tip she was handed.  Hard to tell is she was pleased or disgusted.  I longed for the knowledge to translate 'bad manners' in her native tongue.  I wondered if anyone else felt curious about whether or not they were the center of the secretive yet public chatter. 

I assume that these nail nazis have seen it all, but do they scoff at my slightly webbed second and third toes that make sliding into the provided flimsy flip flops difficult?  I guess I will never know unless someone invents an app to translate the assault like lingo that takes place during a mani/pedi.  Because I don't frequent these places for years at a time, perhaps that app will be available by my next nail appointment.   

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