“Pick your color”

So it’s opening in my state this weekend. The holy grail of things I have wanted to do during quarantine but not been able to. Sure, for the foreseeable future I might have to wear a mask, and the nail tech might sit behind a plexiglass shield with just a small semi-circle opening for me to slide my hands through like she’s a bank teller, and there might be plexiglass walls between me and the other women, but still. Since March, my nails have looked like something I drew with my left hand, and now all is right again.

The nail salons that were allowed to legally open near me just started taking customers Monday, so I knew it was going to be crowded, and that it was going to take a very long time, and that I would probably have to pay a little more. I was ok with all of these things. Last night I drove around to several, looking for the ones who were still taking customers after 5, and when I walked in, it didn’t look as crowded as I had expected.

One thing I hadn’t counted on though, were the mother-daughter pairs. It was like a kick in the gut. I don’t know why I didn’t think about this, but for some reason it never crossed my mind. Of course that’s what moms and daughters are doing. If my mom were still here, I would’ve taken her with me. As a matter of fact, the week before she died, we went to the nail salon for pedicures. I had just worked 10 days straight and I was tired and cranky, but we still had fun. And if I had known it was going to be the last one, I would have savored every last second.

Anyway, last night there was this pregnant woman there, and her mom was with her, and as I watched them together I couldn’t help but think of how the day before my scheduled c-section with Mary Ann, my mom and I went for pedicures. The lady who did them told me I was too pregnant to be out doing anything and should’ve been at home. My mom made fun of how swollen my toes were. I didn’t care what anyone said as long as the doctor didn’t see my toes in disarray, because everyone knows that’s what they’re focused on when your baby is born. At least, that’s what my pregnant brain thought.

Seeing them there made me remember how lucky I was to have my mom there for me when my baby was born, and I got a little angry that my sister won’t have it with her second baby. So Helen Keller, when you go for your pre-delivery pedicure, I want to be there. And I will bring my laptop, and we will watch Phantom of the Opera and Mama Mia and any other musical I can think of, and we will sing along if we want to so that you can’t see or hear any of the moms and daughters. And if that fails, we will eat tacos until we explode and then cry all the way home. Either way, I got your back. 

I also have some ground rules to offer to the rest of you, based on observations I made at the nail salon:

Number one, We have all been dreaming about the day we could go back to getting our nails done, having our pedicures, hearing those four beautiful words, “Go pick your color.” I know picking the color is sacred. It’s part of the whole experience. But you should have this experience during the hour and a half you are waiting for your name to be called. Not after they tell you to have a seat at number 7. When we who are still waiting see you slowing things down, it’s like throwing chum into shark infested waters. You are one step away from a frenzy, my friend. Be considerate. Use your hour and a half to pick your color. 

Number two, salons are re-opening in phases. I think customers should go to salons in phases too. Phase one is grown women. It means you are over 18 (maybe 16, but at least 16), and you come alone. Now is not the time for you and your four daughters under the age of 10 to come to the salon. It has always been a pet-peeve of mine when I bring Mary Ann to get her nails done and she gets overlooked just because she’s young.  Our normal salon treats her like a princess. She’s still a paying customer, because I am paying, right? That was before phases. 

Now it goes like this: senior citizens, middle-aged women, 20-30 somethings, and teens. That’s it. Yesterday while I was waiting, there was a lady getting a mani-pedi, with her teenage daughter who got a full set, with her pre-teen son who got a pedi, with her four year old who got a mani-pedi. You know what? Good for you lady, I’m glad you’re spending time together as a family. Guess what? I wanted to take Mary Ann too. But I didn’t. You know why? The phases. You and your four kids are taking up a full-time job’s worth of nail tech hours and it just irks me. Every woman in three counties wants a mani/pedi. Women who have been trapped at home, trying to homeschool and clean house and do laundry and work full time and not go crazy because TJ Maxx is closed. So sorry not sorry. Kids can be in phase 2. When does phase 2 start? I don’t know sister. It starts when it starts. But it is not now. Now is for adults.

Number 3, appointments mean nothing. You can go on Facebook and schedule your appointment to your heart’s content. If someone with money shows up 15 minutes before your time, after salon-owners haven’t been able to work in 2 months, chances are they are not going to turn them away. Plus, things will take longer because there is a highly contagious virus in our communities right now, and the salons are being extra careful to make sure you and everyone else is safe. Be prepared to wait. Be nice. Be patient. And don’t be rude. I don’t think anyone working yesterday had a lunch break, maybe even a bathroom break. They were working as fast as they could, still being polite and providing excellent service. If you had an appointment, be flexible. They are trying. But they are overwhelmed. There are 100,000 women and 25 salons. It is what it is. We will have to wait our turns. 

I’m sure there are more things you need to know, but at a minimum, these are the top 3 rules that I feel like everyone should adhere to. If you have your mom, take her with you. Just don’t make eye contact with me or Helen Keller. Follow the other rules so that I don’t have to think mean thoughts about you.  And have fun picking your color. 

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