Some time back I discovered the coolest nail spa ever, and as luck would have it, it was during my gig as a nail salon writer extraordinaire. I managed to sell two pieces on the place (and yes, I paid for all my services--nothing free for this journalist!) and became a big fan of the owners. Place was big, balmy, and just full of fun. Not to mention it had great products and services, and I left feeling serene, pampered, and well-groomed.
Alas, when I stopped by for an impromptu pedicure and brow wax a couple months back, the place was the same, but the vibe was different. The tech remembered me and in the wax room, wickedly whispered that the old owners were gone. I asked if the new owner was good to her, and was she happy, and she nodded. And since my wild Romanian brows were straight and my toadnails were pinker than Bubble Yum, I went on my merry way.
The truth is, I like the nail place just around the corner, where it's not as fancy schmancy but the owner goes out of her way to make it pretty and welcoming. (And yes, I've sold articles about her, too.) Problem is there, two of the pedicure girls are just not that great. Their pedis hurt, and I end up with ingrown nails and early chips. Which simply won't do. The one girl who is amazing is booked, booked, booked--and a new mom to boot--so even if I do get on her schedule, there's no guarantee that I'll end up at her mercy.
So recently, when I really needed a perfect polish, I crept back over to the fancy spa. The sign on the door said "Yes, we're open" which seemed odd. And they were, albeit with construction buzzing away and nary a customer in sight other than a man groaning on the massage chair.
But hey, the giant blow-ups of my articles were still in the window, so what did I know?
I took my place on the throne (and not the end one I liked, either, but one that forced me to climb over things, snarl) and Esther took on my feet, utterly silent. Five minutes into the service, it was as if someone had flipped a switch. "Hi, how are you!" she chirped. "This you first time?"
Uh, you just wiped off three coats of I'm Not Really a Waitress and removed an acrylic toadnail that was there while a broken one was growing out...what do you think? Not to mention I immediately took the massage remotes and set the chair just the way I want it.
We continued and she fretted over the fact that my pants were getting wet. Please. And then I guess the foot washing got to her because she suddenly popped up and became very serious.
Do you have a religion? she hissed.
Yes, I said.
What are you? Presbyterian? Lutheran? Catholic? Are you a Christian?
I'm Orthodox, I told her. (Technically, anyway, as I was baptized on my grandparents' dining room table after the church burned down...but that's another story.)
No, no, no, she said. Do you believe in God or not?
Yes, I said. What about you?
Oh yes, said Esther. I Presbyterian. But you. I think you Methodist, with all these questions.
What's funny is that I was pretty much raised in the Methodist church, and my parents now go to a Methodist church that they really love. I guess maybe we Methodist types have a certain type of feet.
Whatever, the pedi continued and she seemed satisfied, so I kept my heathen feet in front of her. In terms of massage and pampering, the whole thing was pathetic. My only treat? She hummed hymns while waxing me, in a perfect, clear soprano.
One week later, my toenails are nicely polished but if I look closely, my toes look like crap. My mani just started chipping yesterday--although the nails themselves snagged the next day. And in the weirdest turn, the toenail she was working on while all the questions came up (the left piglet known as wee wee wee all the way home) told me it was going to fall out in a dream on Thursday night, and when I woke up Friday morning and put on my sandals, it DID.
Lord have mercy.