I don’t paint my toenails anymore.Don’t want to attract attention to my once sexy feet. It’s hard enough exposing them in the summer months wearing sandals.
My toenails are so tough these days and my hands have become so much weaker that I have difficulty squeezing those nail clippers together even with both hands. So I’ve become a frequent customer of a salon that does mass production pedicures. Having tough nails has provided me a great excuse to go pamper myself-a luxury my parents would have strongly disapprove of.
The place I go to is a Viet Namese salon where they have a big operation going. You can get perms and dyes, depilations and facials, manicures and pedicures. There are rows of tables cluttered with clippers and files and bottles of chemicals. Slim young Viet Namese women work at these tables, wearing masks and gloves, using toxic smelling liquids to attach fake nails to stubby fingers and chewed down nails. They have salon names like Linda, Mary, Hanna so when we English speakers return at a later date, we can request them by name. We have trouble pronouncing their given names and remembering them would be even harder.
For pedicures there are large comfortable chairs with foot-soaking tubs attached at the end. There must be at least 12 that line two of the walls. These chairs massage your back by a submerged roller that goes up and down and up and down. I think this is to relax and distract a client while their toes and calluses are being clipped, filed and grated, because sometimes a misplaced clippers will clip more than the nail. And instantly a cauterizing stick comes out of a drawer to stop the bleeding. They’re prepared.
The first thing they will ask me is to go over to a cabinet with rows of nail polish of every imaginable color and select a color I’d like. When I say I don’t want my toenails painted, there’s an expression of disbelief that moves across their face. They ask, “Why not?” They will even paint flowers on top of the nail polish. Anything you like.
As I think about my answer, I realize it’s way too hard to explain about neuromas and surgeries and toes crawling over one another to native Viet Namese speakers.
I take Nancy Reagan’s advice and just say, “No.”