Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Getting nailed

I read many blogs each and every day. I'd have a "blog-roll" on my page but I don't know how to put things on my page that aren't in the "fill in the blanks" of the "edit my blog" page. I digress...

One of the blogs I read is written by a very funny lady named Holly. Her stories are always very funny and sometimes she illustrates her posts with hand drawn pictures. I LOVE hand drawn picture days on her blog! If I could draw at all I might try my hand at it, but I'm trying to lure readers to this blog, not scare them away!

Holly's post today was something to which I could really relate. She has inspired me to write my own post on this subject. Please go visit her page and read her story while I write my post.

Anyone who knows me personally knows that I spend a huge amount of time getting my nails done. I LOVE having acrylic nails and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE getting pedicures. What you may not know is that I went to manicure school and am the owner of a shiny new, never ever used, manicurist license. I spend hours in manicure shops...but I prefer to spend those hours in the client seat and not in the business seat.

As an adult I've always been crafty so I thought that learning how to do acrylic nails would be a breeze for me. Turns out...not so much. Way back in 1986 my mom paid for me to go to the "Marinello School of Beauty". I was just pulling my head out of a real live, miniature, nervous break down, and I had no job, no ambition, no money, no self nothing. My mom probably would have paid for me to go to underwater basket weaving school if she thought it would stimulate me enough to want to get out of bed in the morning. I needed something other than my problems to keep my mind busy and we both thought that manicure school would be good for giving me something to do and I'd have a new career on which to embark.

The first couple of weeks of manicure school we read books and took tests and worked on rubber hands. When we graduated to working on each other I thought this was a pretty cool vocation....but then we started working on real people. I'm a bit of a germphobe so it was hard for me to touch people without making them wash their hands first. (graduating on to pedicures was a real party!) The Marinello School of Beauty was all about cleanliness and sanitation and I was happy to learn that we were to have every client clean their hands with medical grade alcohol before we were allowed to touch them. I can't tell you how many people I would get all sterile and clean only to have them sneeze in to their hands or pick something out of their teeth or scratch the flaky skin on their arm and then think nothing of offering me their hand to work on. I would make them wash up again before I would touch them and tell them, "School rules. Sorry." I would always clean my hands with the alcohol, too, just for good measure! You wouldn't believe how many people would come in looking like they had just been digging in the garden and all of a sudden decided to stop what they were doing and go get a manicure. I would let those people soak their hands until they had wrinkly prune skin. A lot of manicurists today wear latex gloves but we didn't have that option. We had a bottle of alcohol and that was it. Needless to say I went through a lot more alcohol than my classmates.

After a few weeks of doing manicures and pedicures we went on to doing acrylic nails. Well let me be the first to tell you that creating a fingernail out of dust and liquid is not an easy task. The product we used in school was slow drying and thus we were supposed to be able to take our time when trying to form something that looked like a finger nail. Back then it wasn't the norm to put tips on first and then paint the acrylic over them. We used stupid little forms that went under your real nail and expanded out from underneath the finger tip. The finished product of we beginners usually looked like we had dipped our rubber hands into some gloppy mess. The dips and bumps and thickness and lopsidedness was epic. In time we were taught to buff and file the mess in to something that resembled a finger nail. Oh, and we were not allowed to use drills. We did all of our work with nail buffers and emery boards. It was only after we learned how to apply acrylic nails in this fashion that we got to learn how to apply tips and then put the acrylic on top of the tips which brings me to the first real story of this post.

I was working on a client, a nice elderly woman and I was concentrating really hard on what I was doing. I had glued the inch long tips to her nails and I was clipping them down to a more reasonable length. Just after I clipped one of the nails I felt something hit me in the eye and boy did it hurt. I rubbed my eye and it was watering like crazy. Then I discovered that I couldn't open my eye. I excused myself from my client and tried to find the teacher so I could let her know that something was wrong. When I found my teacher she said that I probably had a part of the tip in my eye and should probably go to the hospital and get it taken out. When I told her that I didn't have any health insurance and couldn't afford an ER visit she said that I should go to the restroom and see if I could find the errant piece of tip and take it out myself. When I got to the restroom I tried to find the piece of tip that was now ripping my eyeball to shreds. It hurt like H. E. double hockey sticks...but I couldn't see where it was. I went back to the teacher and told her my plight and she told me to sit down and she'd take a look at it. She pried my eye wide open and told me that the chunk of fingernail tip was stuck in the membrane next to my eye. With no warning or hand washing she stuck her grubby 2 inch nail inside my eye and plucked out the errant tip. My eye watered so severely I thought that I was bleeding at first. Once I had regained my composure I thought for sure that the teacher was going to send me home to recover from my traumatic experience however she sent me right back to my client who had been waiting this entire time. I was very apologetic and the client was very understanding








I truly just wanted a hole to open up and swallow me. I was so embarrassed and humiliated. I was sitting there trying to be all official with my "Popeye" type squint and I sat right there and somehow managed to Super Glue our skin together. Oh, well, not to worry...we had Super Glue solvent and we would be free from bondage in just a jiffy.

Or not.

I don't know if the solvent was old or what but it just didn't work. I tried using acetone and that didn't work. Medical grade alcohol? Nope. Quaternary ammonium? (the blue stuff they sterilize implements with) Nope. Soap? Nope. Cussing and tears? Nope. My client had just about lost her patience with me and I didn't blame her one bit. I had to soak our hands in the glue solvent and millimeter by millimeter pry our skin apart. When all was said and done us were missing chunks of skin and we were both exhausted. The teacher mercifully allowed a more senior student to finish the clients acrylic nails. She had been in the shop with me for over 4 hours.

Flash forward many manicure license is still in the envelope in which it arrived and has since expired. It had been so long since I had done acrylic nails that I couldn't even do my own any more. I saw a shop near my house that was advertising "Full Set $12.00". That was such a bargain that I decided to go there instead of my usual salon. Upon entering the shop I was greeting with the standard nail salon greeting, "Peekala!" For those of you who don't speak nail salonese that translates to, "Thank you for choosing our nail salon from the millions of shops in this general area. All of our technicians are currently with clients right now but if you would like to browse our selection of nail polishes and pick a color someone will be with you shortly." I searched for and found my signature shade of "Million Dollars Red".
I have been wearing that same color for over 10 years and I still get compliments on it. (and no that's not a's "dollars" not "dollar".) As I waited patiently for my turn I had someone from the shop tell me that I needed my eyebrows waxed. I looked at her and was tempted to tell her that I had just recently finished a year of chemo therapy and I was pretty fond of each and every blond hair that was upon my head, including the 6 that were gathered above my eye that almost formed eye brows, but I just politely told her, "No thank you."

When it was my turn to get my nails done I was beckoned to the table of a jittery looking fellow who obviously hadn't washed his hair for quite some time. In addition to the dandruff he had manufactured himself, his hair was full of acrylic dust. It wasn't pretty. He attempted small talk but since he was wearing a medical mask and had a pretty thick accent I couldn't understand a word he was saying. He took great care to glue the plastic tips to my nails to the point of removing and repositioning them several times. I had the feeling that he hadn't been at this profession for very long. Once he had applied all 10 tips he took out his little dishes and poured the acrylic powder in one and then he started to fill the other little bowl with the liquid. This all seemed to happen in slow motion as I think about it today. He picked up a plastic bottle with a nozzle on the end and as he was starting to point it toward the little dish he started to squeeze the bottle. The little dish was between me and him and before I knew it he was squirting me in the eye with the liquid from the bottle.

I screamed and pushed myself away from his table. I staggered to the back of the shop looking for a sink so I could flush my eye. I thought my eye ball was dissolving. Finally I found my way to the teeny weeny bathroom and attempted to flush my eye with cold water. My knees were wobbling from the pain and I was afraid I was going to pass out or pee my pants.

After what seemed like 15 minutes but was surely only a matter of seconds I managed to pry my eye open and get some water in there. From the mirror in front of me I could see the reflection of every employee of the nail salon crowded in the door way, one of them offering me an ice cube. From his bare hand. Melting.

I turned down the offer of the ice cube and sat down with a wet paper towel on my eye for a couple of minutes. I was happy to see that my eye was not dissolving and I was creating enough tears to help flush the acrid liquid out of my eye.

I know I should have walked out of that place as soon as my vision returned but I had some place special to go that night and I couldn't go with half of a full set accomplished on my hands so I sat back down and asked the man to finish the job. The foreign language chatter that followed made me wonder if somehow they were blaming me for wasting precious drops of their product. When all was said and done he still charged me full price and never showed even the smallest sign of sorrow or regret for having nearly blinded me.

I did not leave a tip.



Blogger MinaG said...

Crazy, yet very entertaining post! Glad you survived that last nail salon story!

4:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I lol'd out loud!


4:09 PM  
Blogger Kathy said...

Did you go to Marinello at Fashion Plaza? (Remember when it was called that?)

Hilarious post - loved it.

11:53 PM  
Blogger Margaret said...

Holy crap.

I get my nails done too. Every 2 weeks. And my toes. I love it.

But since becoming pregnant, the eyebrow thing is too painful. Wierd, huh?

And btw, last time my toes were Million Dollars Red. :)

12:53 AM  
Blogger HRH said...

Holy crap girl. During the whole first part of the story "Beauty School Dropout" was playing in my head...OMG.

And then you were almost blinded...and charged full price. At least YOU didn't leave a tip.

Thanks for the kind words and link!

5:35 AM  
Blogger boXer girl said...

Hi Tami W! Great post! Personally, I have never had a manicure, pedicure, or acrylic set of anything glued anywhere, and now I know I never will! What I'd like to know is how the heck do the technicians hear each other? I mean they wear those paper masks, none of them look at each other when they speak, and enunciation is most obviously a foreign concept, yet one doesn't miss a beat as the other mumbles.

Okay, what I'm really here to say is that I am your Interviewer from the interview experiment! I'd like to spend a couple days reading through your blog, that is if you don't mind having a stalker for a bit. I'll be out of town most of next week so I probably won't send my interview questions until next weekend, but don't fret, I will surely be in contact again!

10:46 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

What? That's terrible! I can't believe he didn't apologize or give you a discount or anything. I'm glad your eyes are okay. Scary.

Beautiful hands, by the way!

5:33 PM  
Anonymous Amanda said...

Maybe that's why you're so dizzy all the time now. It's not all the crazy in your head it's the acrid liquid.....Nah it's the crazy! Love ypu!

6:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you told me about the adventures at manicure school, but I laughed again especially when you ended with the second shot into the eye. I get it, you were trying to know what it's like to be me with only one eye. Very funny and yet you continue to go in regularly for your nail abuse!
Silly fiend..........

11:05 PM  

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