Saturday, August 26, 2006

Lots of laughs at the salon

I just had my first manicure/pedicure a couple of years ago. I hate nail polish and am just not that well groomed. Oh, I get my hair colored, but never blown dry. Stumbled into my first pedicure as kind of a foot maintainance thing and have had haphazardly gone back every now and then since. Upon moving to Austin, started the search. Great bonding question with other women. Always a good ice breaker, the need to know details of a new life. I tried one place, then another, finally landing in a funny little salon downtown. Not posh, not hip. Affordable, decent quality. Two rooms, two haircutters, and though I didn't really see them for the longest time, two manicurists on the other. A no frills salon. It wasn't the offer of wine or soda that hooked me, it was the laughter. The salon staff just seemed to guffaw all day long.

Not sure what got me first to the manicurists on the other side. Going somewhere, prepping for something. I made a spontaneous appointment and walked into the second room. My manicurist is tiny, and buff, dressed in tight jeans and a wifebeater. She sets up the footbath on the floor. Ok, so it's kind of manual. Then she proceeds to sit crossed legged on the floor in front of the footbath, surrounding herself with plastic containers. She starts talking a mile a minute. Sometimes to me, more often into a cell phone crooked under her chin, her hands busy filing and buffing. Methamphetamine comes to mind. Sometimes she's talking to her manicurist roomate, sometimes me, sometimes her phone, sometimes I can't even tell where one conversation starts and another ends. "Ooh I love your feet." "Ooh I love my new buffer." "He told you what?" "XXY salon, can I help you?" "I can't wait to get my hands on your feet." The roomate is sporting tiny short shorts, make-up and jewelry. Last time I was there, a great looking Texas blonde wonders in, "Get me some wine. I've just come from lunch. I've been drinking for hours. I need some more." Sits down and pretty much out of the blue starts sharing, "Man I love sex." "I mean, I'll tell ya, I love sex more than anything in the world." The manicurists egg her on and she tells me some of her funniest recent dating stories. Ending up upside down in gravity boots. "Of course I was naked." Or the courting by trailer trash. "Damn if he didn't come up behind me with the biggest hard on I'd ever felt. But I wasn't about to get on the back of that damned bike. I'm a materialist. I'm a mate-ri-alist!" A mature woman - I thought a prime 45 year old. Turns out she's 57. And hilarious. A wildly entertaining two hours.

Back today for a touch up. The demands of salsa shoes and dancing "close position" spurring me in. I think I'm prepared. We start with the feet. My manicurist so hyper I have to deep breathe. They're laughing and talking and fussing about nonstop. I notice they both have open beers. I try to relax amidst the chaos. I'm the only client, so the other manicurist is sweeping, and cleaning up. One minute she's in the room, the next the phone rings and she's on it, having called from somewhere outside. The other hair stylist comes in and relaxes in a chair. "Joe xxyz asked me to marry him again this week. For like the 100th time. Says I'm the one. I know he's not the one," she starts to whisper, "Because if he was, his penis would be bigger." Howling.

"I just have the worst taste in men." The other manicurist pipes in, "My picker's broken." The stylist adds, "If sex is good, it's about 5% of your relationship. If it's bad, it's more like 95%." I jump in "yeah, that's so true." Hairstylist continues, "I can't marry someone if I don't want to have sex with him." The manicurist adds, "Yeah, and not if you know what good sex is like, like we do!" Together they rail "Yeah, with Satan, the devil himself." More howling. It's just the funniest, bawdiest, loosest talk I've heard in years. The talk turns to eye lifts, botox, then boob jobs. Their boob jobs.

Getting my manicure now sitting at a table, I hear a woman behind me. Not yelling at anyone, just speaking in a kind of bellow. No hello or niceties, just a "I got you of those cutest little white bags I told you I would." Then she was gone. My manicurist starts whispering. "She's one of my clients and I love her but she tires me out. She's OCD, repeats everything, is on all sorts of medication. I'm just not prepared for her today." We hear her through the wall, more bellowing, lots of repetition. My hairstylist appears with a bottle of champagne under his arm and glasses, "I need to hide for a few minutes. She wears me out." "My manicurist coos for the last time, "I just love your nails. I love that you came here all by yourself. I love that you don't wear polish and I get to show off my great new buffer. Look at that shine!"

I'm in another world. Amused as hell to visit there.

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