Recently, I was given a gift card to Nail En Vogue in Lexington. Though I love beautiful nails it has never been something I’ve been able to maintain. Since someone went to the trouble of getting me a gift card for no reason, other than she wanted to bless me, I committed myself to the project. I’ve actually loved being “required” to go every two weeks for the fill-ins. It forces me to do something just for me and that’s an activity I’m not very good at.
Nail En Vogue is about 25 minutes from my house. Between preparing for a spring break trip, doctor appointments, funerals and basic daily events it just has not been possible for me to take the time to get there. Since it’s just a fill-in, I reason to myself, it can be done anywhere. Just once I’ll go to that place around the corner. How much different could there possibly be? Turns out a lot, actually.
My first clue that all wasn’t well was the extraordinarily long wait. Granted all the nail clinicians are working. They just look as if they are working in slow motion. I conclude this must be a patience test for me. Feeling a little Holy I decide a good use of my wait time is to pray for everyone there. I did that – three times. And I was still waiting.
Finally, a lady gets fed up, leaves in a huff and my time has arrived. I was seated next to a pretty dark-haired girl who was getting gel tips. As I’m settling into my seat the clinician doing her nails starts speaking to the clinician doing mine in a language only they understand. Before the girl and I could exchange that awkward smile that Americans share when we have no idea what language is being spoken let alone what actual words are flying about, her clinician raises her hand up, points at her thumb and cackles like a hyena. He was pointing and laughing and next thing I know my clinician has joined in. This clearly warrants more than an awkward smile but neither of us are quite certain what to do when one’s finger is being so openly mocked. So, we just sat there allowing her thumb to be the object of some joke we are not privy too.
Yet, despite not knowing the joke I found the entire situation funny. I was attempting to hold in my own laughter and when I feared it may escape I whispered to the girl, “I’m not laughing at you… or your nails.”
“Oh, I know.” She whispers back as if our whispers are as unintelligible to them as their language is to us.
My clinician goes to work on my nails with her little drill thingy. If you haven’t been through this process they use a tiny, rapidly spinning tool to shave off the longer ends of the nails. I call it a drill though that isn’t an adequate description. Normally, you don’t feel a thing. The drill simply decreases the nail length. Not this time. Without warning, I felt the end of my finger burn. “Sorry,” she says. Okay, not everyone is perfect. I’m going to let it go. Then she does it again. And again. And again. Each time she follows it with a “sorry” that doesn’t sound very sorry at all.
For such a small drill the pain is a bit more than one would expect. I’m enduring this on every finger multiple times. Holiness gone! I’m not only not praying for anyone but myself at this point but I’m also thinking some rather unfortunate thoughts about the chick doing my nails. I decide right then I could not hold up under torture. I’m doing my best not to flinch but crap it hurts! I dare a peek at the girl seated next to me. She’s smiling, trying to hold in her laughter. She mouths a “sorry” to me. I shrug. Seems fair.
Somehow, I’ve managed to survive one hand of burns and she has moved on to the next. On finger number two the drill slips and off flies my entire nail! As if in slow motion we all watch the nail sail across the room, me in horror, my clinician in abject indifference, everyone else in humor. “That will be $3,” she says.
I shake my head. “What?” I stammer.
“To replace nail is $3.” She says it slowly as if I’m a simpleton.
I point at the offending nail now protruding from the carpet. “I’m not paying for that.”
“You no want to pay?” She inquires innocently.
I look at her for a moment, in complete shock that this is actually a question, before shaking my head. “You did that. I’m not paying for your mistake.” Then, for reasons I’m not entirely sure of, I take this moment to actually count my fingers, as if she somehow shaved a finger off without me being aware.
“You no want to pay?” She repeats.
“I no want to pay.” I spoke as slowly and deliberately as she did.
She shrugs. “Okay. I pay.” Just like that, the matter is dropped and she’s moving on to burning the rest of my fingers.
I glance at my fellow victim…. uh…. patron of the store to find her smiling. Just as she gives me a nod of encouragement her clinician again raises up one of her fingers and begins speaking in that language we have yet to define. Just as before he shows my clinician and they both laugh. Whether garnered by the stand I just took or simply fed up she suddenly erupts. “No!” She wags one of her other perfectly manicured fingers at the two clinicians. “No more of that! Stop laughing at my fingernails. You made them!” Both clinicians look properly chastised, my fellow….patron… looks supremely satisfied with herself. I was a little proud of her too.
Later, after both of us had been admonished for not washing our hands fast enough, my fellow …. oh who are we kidding?…. victim … my fellow victim turns to me and says, “I swear I am going to run as fast as I can from this place and never come back.” I giggled in response.
I dutifully returned to my clinician. I wasn’t thrilled that she had sawed off more of my nail length than I wanted but happy that the torture was over. After she painted a single nail in the pretty purple shade I had selected she cocks her head and asks, “You like the color?”
I smile for the first time at peace. “Yes.” “Really?” She asks in that disbelieving tone people use to make certain you know they don’t agree with you.
Not sure why I felt the need to explain but I did. “I picked it for Easter.”
She looks at me quizzically. “Easter? When is Easter?”
“I’m not sure of the exact date.” I reply.
She stops painting my nails and looks at me like I’ve just sprouted two heads. “You picked your nail color for Easter but don’t know when it is?”
“Well, it’s the end of March,” I defend myself, obviously unprepared for this interrogation.
For a heartbeat, she merely stares at me, then shrugs. But if I thought her shrug was the dismissal of the subject I was very wrong. The shrug was not yet complete when she launches into another conversation with her fellow clinician in their language. I blame it on the burnt nerve endings in my fingers but I’d had enough. “That’s rude!” I proclaim. But my declaration yielded nothing more than a pause in their conversation before they resumed in earnest. “Oh, my gosh! Where am I?”
That put a stop to their conversation. My clinician looked at me and gave me the name of the place. I look at my fellow victim. “Apparently, rhetorical questions are not part of their language.” I then give my clinician a fake smile. It worked. They shut up.
Still wondering what sort of weird dimension I had ambled into, I made my way to the counter to dry my nails. Rather than the fancy mani/pedi automatic dryer, I was accustom to at Nail En Vogue, the timing system here was just a tad ….. shall we say different? They had an hour glass filled with what looked like purple slime which they simply turned upside down. Just as I was getting comfortable in the drying process my fellow victim’s slime ran out. Without further ado, she literally jumped from her seat, and true to her word, ran out the door, through the crowded parking lot and never slowed down until she reached her car. My only surprise was that she didn’t squeal tires as she peeled out of the parking lot.
I nodded my head in respect. “You go, girl!” I thought. Then I sobered and wondered if Nail En Vogue would take me back after my cheating. Would my slumming ways matter to them? What if I promised never to nail cheat on them again? Should I tell them? I don’t know what to do. I’ve never cheated before. Now, I have a whole new prayer to pray between now and my next nail fill-in.