After four weeks of hiding out in a condo on the beach in Seagrove (I did shower and change clothes about twice a week) while working on my novel-in-progress, my nails were in bad shape. My toenails had been beaten down by hours of walking at the ocean’s edge, where the salt water added insult to the sand’s injury. My fingernails had been ignored as the digits they inhabit typed away endlessly on my computer’s keyboard, playing the music that was coming up from somewhere deep in my soul. So, the day before I left Seagrove, I drove thirty minutes to the “Nail Spalon” in Miramar Beach for a manicure and a pedicure. I passed at least a half dozen other nail salons along the way to the one that had been so highly recommended by “Pat,” who owned Goatfeathers Seafood Market in Seagrove Beach.
“Ask for Helen,” Pat told me. “She’s the best.”
“But, there’s a nail salon right across the street, and another in the Seagrove Plaza, and another next to Publix. Do I really need to drive thirty minutes to get a good manicure and pedicure?”
“Oh, yes. Those other places aren’t nearly as good. And be sure and tell them Pat sent you and Helen will give you a discount.”
So I made an appointment with Helen and made the drive. Pulling into the Nail Spalon in a nondescript strip mall on Highway 98 in Miramar Beach, I began to wonder about Pat’s advice. I walked in, noticed that the 3 nail technicians were all busy with other customers, and said, “Hi, I’m Susan. I’ve got a 3 p.m. appointment with Helen for a manicure and pedicure. Pat sent me--you know, from Goatfeathers in Seagrove?”
One of the techs looked up and said, “Helen doesn’t do pedicures.”
Helen herself looked up and added, “And I don’t do regular manicures—only the Pink and Whites.” (Pink and Whites are a special type of acrylic nail that I wore for a couple of years before going back to my natural nails.)
“But when I called I said I didn’t want a Pink and White, just a normal manicure and pedicure.”
Another technician motioned to the waiting area and said, “Just have a seat.”
I sat and waited for about fifteen minutes. Finally one of the women came and filled the foot tub for my pedicure and told me to sit in the massage chair and put my feet in the tub and someone would be with me shortly. So I sat and waited another ten minutes as the water began to get cold.
Eventually the same technician who drew the water came and sat down in front of me for my pedicure. I had chosen my nail color and was anxiously watching the clock—I was supposed to meet a friend for sushi and wine back in Seaside—30 minutes away—at 5 p.m., and it was already close to 3:30.
“I’ve got an appointment at 5 in Seaside,” I said. I thought maybe saying I had an "appointment" rather than a date to meet someone at a bar might sound more urgent. “Will that be a problem—to do both the manicure and pedicure in an hour?”
“Oh, no problem,” the young woman said. But she didn’t sit down and begin to work on my toes right away. Instead, she walked around, gathering supplies, and at times just standing near my feet, talking to me and the woman in the chair next to me. And to her sister, Helen, who was still working on a set of Pink and Whites for another customer. Finally she sat down and began to work on my toes. I was trying to remain calm and friendly, so I complimented her on her necklace—a pretty silver medallion on a simple chain.
The girl laughed and turned to her sister, who had finished her Pink and Whites and was walking over to talk with us. I didn’t know what was so funny about me complimenting her on her necklace. I was about to get Too Much Information.
“Helen,” my girl said, “do you remember that woman who came in for a mani and pedi on the day of her daughter’s wedding?”
Helen and the other technicians all began to laugh, and then my girl began to tell the story to me and the client next to me—obviously a regular, since she called her by name and made a reference to her appointment the next week at one point.
Evidently the woman they were talking about was all in a tizzy because her daughter was getting married on the beach in two hours and she was dressed and everything. She was a bit overweight and her dress was too tight.
“Does this dress make me look fat?” she asked the nail technician.
“Black covers everything,” was the reply she thought of, trying to keep a straight face as rolls of fat were obviously squeezed into the dress.
“What about this necklace?” the woman pointed to a gaudy, over-sized gold necklace that was perched just above her ample bosom.
“Well, you might consider something a little understated,” the girl offered, “maybe in silver.”
And the woman proceeded to ask if she could borrow the necklace the nail tech was wearing! She even offered to leave her driver’s license and credit card as a “deposit” to prove she would bring the necklace back after the wedding! But the nail tech told her the necklace had been a gift from her husband and she never took it off.
After her mani and pedi, the woman evidently unloaded the rest of her story on Helen. She said that she has MS (Multiple Sclerosis) and that she was partially paralyzed from it… including some of her female parts. (She used a different word here, but since this is my blog, I'm going to edit myself for a change. I will say that it started with a "p" and ended with a "y.")
“I haven’t had an orgasm in months,” she had announced to anyone who would listen in the salon that day.
At that point I was laughing so hard I had forgotten to ask about the discount, and I didn’t care whether or not I was late for my date at the wine bar in Seaside. Besides, I knew that when I got there I was going to have a great story to tell☺