The first time I visited Chicago I was in my early 20s. A lovely, drunk Chicagoan took it upon herself to counsel me in a bar.
“You’re cute,” she said. “But your nails just ruin it! You must get a manicure.”
Nothing like one woman’s criticism to motivate another woman to action.
I don’t get manicures every week. I get them when I can. When I must.
And I throw in a pedicure. Need it to exercise. How can I be expected to do yoga with unpolished toenails?
As you know, we recently relocated. Had some free time one Friday. So I’m thinking, I’m in Wichita, the largest city in Kansas. I’ll just pop in somewhere and have my nails done. No problem.
No appointment, no service was more like it.
“We’re booked until 4:30 p.m.,” said the first shop.
“How about next week?” said the second.
“We don’t have time to do both,” said the third. “Manicure or pedicure?”
I have to choose? But I’ll be unbalanced. (Please hold all comments until the end.)
My free time was evaporating. Desperate, I tried one last shop.
“How long for a manicure-pedicure?”
The row of women paused their filling and filing to stare like I was from Mars.
“No, wait!” said one woman as I turned to leave. Must have been the owner.
“She can take you now.” The owner pointed across the room to a beautiful, young woman reading a magazine.
The young woman looked up and rolled her eyes. Red flag number one.
“No. No. No,” said the little voice inside me.
I sat down in the pedicure chair anyway. I needed to have my nails done.
As the young one began removing my old polish, I smiled and said, “I’m so glad you could take me today.”
She looked up and snarled. “You’re lucky you got in,” she said. “We usually only take appointments.”
The little voice inside me whipped around and wagged a finger. “No, you’re lucky I’m sitting in your chair, sister!”
In real life I was stunned silent. My feet literally in hot water. Better not to speak lest I lose a toe.
Forty-five minutes later, I had ravishing, plum toenails. They were shaped kind of weird, but they were all still there.
We moved to the manicurist station where the young one placed my hands in little dishes of water. Then she disappeared into the break room. For 10 minutes.
The skin on my fingers pruned and the little voice shrieked, “GET OUT!”
Back in St. Louis at Ladue Nails I would have been done with all this in less than an hour. No coffee breaks allowed if you have a customer in the house.
Should I call her out of the break room? Pay the owner for the pedi and leave? Run screaming from the building?
Finally she reappeared, all smug and caffeinated.
“You know what?” I said. “I have to pick up my son from school. Let me pay for the pedicure and go.”
“Are you sure you can’t stay?” she said.
“You’ll listen to me next time?” said the little voice as we drove away.
Count on it.
Discretion will protect you,
and understanding will guard you. Proverbs 2:11 NIV
Despite this experience, there are many fabulous salons in Wichita. For example, I found a terrific manicurist at a friendly salon that boasts of the best candy dish in town.
Nini, at Nails and Spa on Central near 127th, advises me to be on the safe side and always make an appointment.