A repost from May 2000
I have been called a nailchick. Definition : a female person who is inordinately preoccupied with her nails.
I guess that is better than being called a nail head. Definition : somebody who has the personality of a metal peg, or somebody whose grandest purpose is to be hammered on the head.
That title was meant to be neither complimentary, nor derogatory. It just is. I just am. A nailhead. I do obsess a bit about my nails. Okay, okay, I obsess more than just a bit. I have more than two dozen colors in my collection, ranging from virginal pink to satanic black. But this obsession goes beyond color, really. This addiction is not just about vanity or aesthetics. I mean, it is not just about whether this season dictates matte or sheen, or if purple goes with my skin tone.
What it is about is that it just feels so damn good to have your nails done. Feels really, really, really good. Better than sex? Nah, I wouldn't go that far in extolling the virtues of nail culture. I wouldn't put these activities in the same level, though there have been days when I would rather be manicured than shagged. It probably isn't as ooh-aah inducing as shopping on a no-max credit card. But when you don't have that utile gold visa, having your nails done delivers temporal nirvana for the puny sum of 120 pesos plus tips. My socially concerned husband would argue that my narcissistic folly is a minimum wage family's lunch and dinner. I will ignore the comment as I get into scrubs, wash my hands and feet in preparation for this delightful, delectable, sensual, luxurious indulgence.
The pleasure starts at home where I keep my arsenal of nail ware and I choose the color of the week. Outside in another world, malls are being bombed, foreign embassies are demanding hostage negotiation rights, the Central Bank governor is choosing between increasing interest rates or devaluating the peso, Erap is distressing over cancelling his European state visit to give priority to the worsening peace and order situation, I am lining up those colorful little bottles, and thinking, will I go for the kohl or the mocha glaze? Electric blue or matte pink? Vampy red or boring beige?
Having made my choice, I walk/ drive over to the parlor. I don't even mind the waiting time. The anticipation adds to the excitement. Witholding the gratification stretches the time spent in the salon atmosphere. My senses take in the scent of hair setting lotion, the screaming, screeching gaggle of salon staff in fag-speak, the heat of the hair steamer, the sight of women in terry turbans and scalps wrapped in foil, and the cerebral stimulation sparked by hollywood magazines littering the waiting room.
Then, the wait is over. The manicurist calls me and I excitedly respond and follow her as she leads me to my seat. Let me point out at this point that most manicurists have unkempt nails. That's their occupational hazard - having to hold acetone-dipped cotton balls and having to use their own nails to tidy up nail color, they can not possibly maintain their own nails. I personally consider that a monumental sacrifice. Thanks to their selfless disregard for their personal vanity, nailchicks like me get to sport the latest shades from urban decay, wet & wild, bobbie and caronia.
So back to nail heaven. I usually have my hand nails done first. The first thing the manicurist does is to remove any existing color. Then she dips this cute little nail brush into this pink liquid imaginatively called cuticle remover. Then she uses an implement called the pusher, which serves a much nobler purpose than those whose occupational title is the same. The manicurist, let's call her Vangie today... Vangie uses the pusher to scrape surface grime. It sounds disgusting, but be assured that the grime is colored white and is really just the topmost layer of the nail, not exactly yuck muck. The thought that this process may be causing damage to my nails is conveniently ignored as I give in to the pleasurable sensations. Vangie brushes all the nails again and then brings out the nipper, my favorite tool. Vangie nips around where the nails join skin removing superfluous dermis called the cuticle. Now, this is a delicate task. The manicuring tyro has caused many a wounded finger. But for us, nail mavens, a little blood, overnipped cuticles, tiny cuts are just minor irritants endured in the line of nailchick duty. Nothing that good old mercurochrome can not handle.
Cuticle-cleaning, actually the most orgasmic part of the process, now over. Everything is a bit anti-climactic, albeit still pleasurable, from this point on. Nails are filed - I go for square tipped. One final buff. A dollop of lotion. A hand massage that exceeds five minutes is glorious. Base coat applied. Two coats of color. Topcoat to protect the color from chipping, at least until after you leave the salon doors. Same process goes for the feet. Only it is much more pleasurable, because there is much more grime and extra skin to zap. Foot scrubs are nice-to-haves that double, no, triple the pleasure.
And as Vangie applies the last coat of polish on the last nail, I become sentimental, already missing the pampering sensations of having my nails done. Sighing. Wishing I had another pair of hands and feet. Hating the re-entry into the real world where our mentally challenged president reigns and dictates policies that diminish the peso, changing the title of this piece to two dollar fifty of happiness.