Three times Pammy has asked me to go with her to get a manicure. Three times I’ve said yes. And three times I’ve found a reason not to go
Pammy has been dating my son for 5 years. She is Tiny Perfect Pammy. She does things like hair and makeup and nails. She wears jewellery and accessories and outfits that are planned. She is all the things I am not, and she continues in her mission to make me a grown up woman.
I had a manicure once, probably 25 years ago. I’m sure my mother talked me into it. I’m just as certain I smudged the polish reaching for my car keys as I left the salon. For the record, lipstick also remains a mystery to me.
One recent Thursday afternoon, I triumphantly pushed back from my computer announcing that I was, for a change, done my work. “Good. We’re going for a manicure, then,” announced Pam. Oh. Okay. Before could change my mind, she had me in the car.
Salons interest me because they are essentially sausage factories. Disappear through the front door, and you will soon see the process of beauty which is somewhat less beautiful than beauty itself. Pammy sat flipping through a handful of colour choices, asking which one I would like. We have two new kittens with colds; I’ve been wrestling pills into them twice a day.
“What matches cat scratch?” I asked
As I made my way to the magic tables where the nails would happen, a tiny lady approached me and peered into my face. “You here for eyebrows?” she asked me. When someone asks you this unprompted, the answer is apparently yes. “Yes,” I replied. Because why not get all the beauty I could while I was here?
My sister has warned me repeatedly that before you let anyone wax your eyebrows, you discuss with them what you want. She had a negative experience that haunts her to this day. I waited for my little lady to start our discussion. Instead, she shifted me onto the bed, shoved my bangs out of the way and stared critically at the untamed wilderness running roughshod over my face. Before I could say a word, she had me in a gentle headlock and was going at it. Rip. I remained quiet, far more scared of making her angry than I was of any outcome that might haunt me for years to come.
“Upper lip?” she demanded. I didn’t even argue. Ari and I grew a moustache at the same time, 7 years ago. What’s the point of perfect brows and elegant nails if you have a 13-year-old boy’s upper lip? Rip.
I emerged from the tiny room a new woman. I excitedly showed Pammy my eyebrows; my tiny wax lady was beaming, and Pammy’s technician smiled along with us. The smiles reminded me of something I didn’t figure out until later: it was the smile I used when I was potty training the kids.
My beauty tour wrapped up with nail polish. Things have changed in 25 years; they use this stuff that adheres to your nails like paint to a car. It doesn’t chip or fade. They bake it on in tiny little drier portholes in the table, and as I thrilled at each new discovery, Pammy sighed a little and gave me that potty training smile.
She was right to nudge me and make me change my mind. I’ve spent too long thinking my way is the right way, all the time.
Maybe I’ll even give the lipstick a go.