Sunday, May 6, 2007

Got Nails?

Yesterday, I stopped by my local nail salon for a quick manicure. I don't go very often. In fact, I usually like to do my own nails at home, but about once a month, I need to go have them "done" to get a good cleanup on the cuticles and all.

The salon was buzzing with fingers and toes being given the royal treatment. As I waited, I sat back and observed.

The only people working in the salon were Asian women. They were all young and beautiful, with bright eyes and easy smiles. I wondered what they thought of the people whose hands and feet they were pampering. I wondered where they came from, where they were going, and if this was a better place for them than from whence they came.

I have two good friends who are Asian, both originally from Toronto. A while back, we did lunch and nails together, and once again we were manicured by young, beautiful Asian girls. My girlfriends, both college-educated and career professionals, told me they felt a bit guilty about being there, being serviced by the young ladies because 'there but for the grace of God, go I'. They both felt that it just as easily could have been them on the other end of the nail file, had their lives been slightly different.

This was a specific example for them, but I always feel that way. My grandparents were immigrants who came to this country with nothing. Three generations later, we're all doing better, because they sacrificed so their kids could have more. But it could have been very different, and I never forget that. I see these young immigrant Asian ladies doing the same thing - working some long hours in a monontonous job, but they beam when they tell me about their children, how well they are doing in school and all. I guess that's what it's all about...that's still what it's all about. I wish the best for these sweet ladies and am glad they are able to be here to pursue the American dream.

On the other end of the equation, the nails being pampered by these young ladies belonged to the hands of 8 Caucasian women, 2 African-American women, and 3 little girls around the age of 4. At one point, it was me and the 4-year olds at the drying counter, staring at each other. I felt huge and old. I kept thinking of that Sesame Street song, "One of these things is not like the other....". I was the only one at the drying table whose feet touched the floor and who did not have hot pink fingers and toes with flowers on them. (Hmmmm....maybe next time.) I, we're starting these little girls into this stuff really early, aren't we? What's next? Baby Botox? Shouldn't they be out climbing trees or something? In Dallas, we have more than our share of over-the-top, turbo-processed pampered princesses of the adult variety, and we start training them early, don't you know. They're really good at it by the time they reach the teen years and beyond, and it's no wonder why.

I watched lots of fake nails going on and coming off. I just don't know how people wear those things. I tried them once and hated them. It wasn't so much the nails as the maintenance. Every time I broke a nail or they grew a little bit, there I was at the salon getting them fixed. Ewww. No thanks. I like my free time way to much to be tethered to going to a salon every time I get a hangnail. Ick.

As I left the salon, I looked out at the shopping centers across the street and diagonal from this one. Every single strip center on every corner has a nail salon of similar variety. That's a lot of fingers and toes getting the royal treatment. There's no excuse to have bad nails in this town.

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