I enjoy trips to the nail salon. I like to be attacked with sharp tools, smoothed with acid, and softened with hot wax. I enjoy a vigorous rub down from a stranger, a woman of another culture with whom I share nothing, yet her gentle caress on my extremities offers the comfort of a motherly touch. Such a caring experience, I like all the healing and soothing and revealing that goes on. The chatter of foreign tongues bonding over cuticles and callouses and the American dream. Here we sit all lined up in our chairs with our arms and legs outstretched; wanting and waiting, rendered helpless by our own need to feel pretty, pampered. All this washing and scrubbing and filing going on about me while I remain momentarily incapacitated by the luxury of being taken care of hand and foot. I am watching with a cautious eye to make sure she doesn’t fuck up my nails. Sometimes I have a problem justifying to myself a trip to the nail salon. I reason that there is no reason I can’t do this myself, and then I procrastinate until my feet resemble those of a clawed Gothic beast. I feel compelled to over tip, the women have to work so hard to get me back to human form. “Ten minutes ten dollars you want massage?” says the angel at my feet and I quickly agree to the heavenly proposition.
I awaken; my legs splayed, disoriented I look around and notice that outside the color of the day has gone from late afternoon to dark evening. I gather my belongings and she, the woman with whom I have an unspoken bond over servility, gets up from another woman’s feet and comes to my aid. I pay, I tip her, and we hug, because she knows how much I need her and appreciate her even though I can never remember her name.