Until I became an author, I rarely had a professional manicure. I had my nails done for my wedding, I think. Otherwise, nah. I’m a Yankee! I garden. I had little kids and had to wash hands constantly. What’s the point?
But now, I do signings and go out in public, and I figured I should have decent-looking hands. Doing my own nails is too much of a challenge in the hand-eye coordination department, so I generally end up looking like a toddler—a blind toddler—did the job.
Hence, I now go to a salon fairly regularly, and Sophie (not her real name) does my nails. She’s Korean, very beautiful and tiny, with long, long hair and very strong hands. She’s also very patient as I explain why all her hard work from two weeks ago has been sullied. “Oh, is that cookie dough?” I might ask. “Sorry. Oh, wow, that nail is torn. I was wrestling with the dog, and it got a little crazy. It’s always been funky, ever since I lost a chunk on a fishing lure. A lure? You know, fishing? For large mouth bass? It was a scum frog. Scum frog? I almost caught something that day.”
Sophie just gives me a little smile, then says something to her coworker in Korean. Probably, “This idiot still doesn’t realize I speak perfect English. And not another story about the funky nail. When’s my coffee break?” I overtip to compensate.
About twice a year, I get the dreaded pedicure. Picture Frodo Baggins. Now, picture his hideous, leathery feet. If only I could grow kidneys the way I grow calluses, there would be no need for transplants ever again. She gave me a pedicure after I broke my ankle and it was all black and blue. I thought she was maybe going to throw up, but she bravely powered through.
To make Sophie’s job easier, I bought a tool this winter. It’s sort of a cheese grater/pumice stone/scrubbing brush/sander. About four weeks before I need a pedicure, I go into training. I even bought some mysterious callus remover that you smear all over your feet, wait five minutes (or until you can’t stand the burning), and then “wipe your calluses away!” It doesn’t actually work, so I bought a rather dangerous razor blade thingie. You know, just to shave off a few centimeters so Sophie doesn’t get a permanent hunchback working on my hobbit feet
“You let me do,” she said this last time, frowning over my too-pink feet (which were almost done bleeding. “No more tool. Okay?”
I took that to mean “No more being such a tool, Kristan.” Chastened, I agreed.
Sophie has the quietest voice I’ve ever heard on a human. She’s very sweet, and laughs a lot. She seems to be the most popular manicurist, and I only go to her. I like to think that makes her happy (because of the overtipping, you know?) The last part of the manicure is when she rubs lotion onto my hands and massages my fingers. I always feel like hugging her when she’s done.