Sep 2, 2018

Nail Salon Be Like "We Can Do It"

OK - here goes:

All my life, I have secretly suffered from a condition called Dermatillomania. I pick at my cuticles sometimes so badly they bleed and I soothe myself by pouring peroxide over my wounds, smoothing antibiotic cream over the brutalized cuticles and hoping my ministrations help me avoid a future infection. The cuticles heal and then I start the cycle all over again... and again... and again.  Band-aids are a necessity and mostly hide my ugly secret. I'm mortified and embarrassed about this condition and often console myself with the thought that at least I don't cut myself. Things could be much, much worse.

I have a mental illness related to obsessive-compulsive disorder and I pick unconsciously at my cuticles in times of stress or anxiety. I manage the condition with medication, but it's not a cure-all.

In my case, the only thing that works 100% of the time is getting and keeping up with my acrylic nails. It's time-consuming, costly and expensive. I only do it when I feel completely off the rails. I look down at a couple of my bandaged fingers and just know...it's time.

Because of a particularly stressful afternoon at my volunteer job today, I desperately wanted to pick at my thumb. I was super angry and frustrated. My unexpressed feelings seemed to be overtaking me. I needed and wanted instant relief by doing a little self-grooming. (Unlike an alcoholic, I don't have a sponsor to call when this crazy compulsive feeling overtakes me.) But I know myself very well. One pick leads to another finger and another rip of a cuticle. What the hell was I thinking last week by removing my acrylic nails while driving into work deluding myself into thinking I could do better this time?

When I visited the salon this afternoon, she noticed that I had removed my acrylic nails. "Why you take off?" she asked. I explained that it's hard to secure the clasps on my necklaces as I'm getting dressed for work in the morning. She asked, "Too thick?"  But between you and I, that's only partially true.  I detest wasting 90 minutes of my precious life sitting in a nail salon because I have OCD and can't stop hurting myself. So the answer to her question is yes, much too thick.

Maybe a minute or two passed and apparently I was taking too long to choose my color when the owner asked me if I could use some help.

Let me pause here to say that I could never work in a nail salon because there are simply too many goddamned bottles of polish. The OCD within me tries not to stare at the racks with all the bottles out of sequential order in the gel section.  I itch to rearrange them during every visit. Most of the time, the people who work in nail salons are just sitting there mindlessly scrolling on their iPhones. If they're not busy, why don't they get up and start arranging the damn bottles? People, it's a simple concept. A place for everything and everything in its place. I also couldn't deal with vain customers agonizing over the importance of their color selection as if they were choosing the updated vinyl siding for their home. It's only nail polish!  Choose your color, get your ass in one of those uncomfortable faux-leather chairs and watch the freaking Food Network! You know you're never baking any of that shit anyways.

I remembered that I once saw a waitress with the coolest nail pattern.  The polish was almost like a cat's eye marble and she said it's done with magnets.  What kind of magic is this?  They looked so beautiful and I loved how the light reflected at just the right angle when she moved her nails. Simply mesmerizing.

Someday, I promised myself, I'm gonna be F-A-N-C-Y.

I asked my manicurist, also the owner, if she could do something like that magnet nail polish design. "Oh!" she excitedly exclaimed. "Pick a color, I make it like you like."

First things first, beloved reader of mine, you need to have a concept of the design I was hoping for to understand the end result. (pictured left)

Looks pretty fancy, right? I was going for a Star Sapphire look and sat down at her booth prepared to be amazed. You know where this is going, right? She didn't even know how to properly do it.

She applied a layer of gel polish and then got out this very tiny tongue-depressor looking thing that contained a magnet. She held it over my wet nail and sort of elevated her wrist upwards across it. We both looked closer and saw no change. Some technique.

This little 'magic wand' looked like this:

She tried to get the cat's eye effect several times and in frustration called out to her presumed husband, scrolling on his iPhone, for help.  He came over, smiled at me and inspected her work. Absolutely nothing was happening. She was just guessing how to do it. After saying something unintelligible, he left in frustration with her and returned holding another magic wand.  (I guess they were hoping the double magnetic strength would create the effect?)  She laid one tongue-depressor wand on top of the other and tried again.  Mind you, throughout all of this, my opposing hand was uncomfortably seated inside one of those 36-watt UV drying lamps. The top of my hands were getting, shall we say, crispy. I'm too young for Oil of Olay.  

I finally had enough and just told her to stop. Just give me another lick of paint and let's call it a day.  But her stubborn husband had other plans and returned to the booth proudly displaying a YouTube video he just found that showed how to do that magnetic cat's eye effect. I was dumbfounded because they are supposed to be the professionals in this situation offering a service to their salon customers.  A tutorial on your iPhone does not make a happy customer.

I pulled my opposing hand out of the lamp and started to push away from the table.  She indicated one more try.  Or at least I think that's what she said as she attempted the technique one last time on her own thumbnail. "You work tomorrow? Labor Day." she asked me while still failing miserably. I nodded my head yes and dropped my eyes so no further conversation could ensue.

Honestly, she always does a very nice job on my nails and I have never been disappointed with her services.  

The manicure cost $25 and I gave her a $6 tip.  She smiled at me as she was processing my credit card and proudly pointed to the receipt showing that she had only charged me $23.  "I do better next time, OK?"