It’s a Nail of a Tale

For years one of my indulgences has been getting my nails done. It’s such a teacher cliché, but I bought right into it. At the beginning of my career, I was consistent – every two weeks, a standing appointment. But once I started realizing that my teacher’s salary was just not going to budget in frequent nail indulgences, I tapered off to once a month. I also love getting pedicures more than manicures, so by the end of my time at HHS, my fingernails were pretty repugnant.

There are two reasons I love having my nails done: the first is the visual effect. I gesture a lot with my hands and rarely wear shoes, so I like to see the pretty colors flash out of the corner of my eye. The second reason I want my fingers done is because I have a terrible nervous habit of picking my cuticle.Anytime I am in a situation where I am uncomfortable, I pick at my cuticle.  I once had to stop a therapy session because my finger was bleeding all over the rug. My hands are really dry anyway, so picking at the cuticle doesn’t help the look. I used to bite my nails, but stopped after getting acrylics for a few years. Now it’s the gel that I love (even though the UV dryer will probably give me major hand cancer.) It never fails, no matter which salon I go to in the states, the little Vietnamese man or woman looks at me and clicks his or her tongue while scolding me for my terrible cuticle maintenance.

Moving to Uruguay, I knew that I was going to be placed into LOTS of uncomfortable situations. So I got my nails done right before I came, hoping they would at least last until the kids got here and met me. That fantasy was short-lived as I walked into dry winter Uruguay. My nails didn’t have a chance! So I panicked for a second as one-by-one the gel started peeling. Then I decided to ask our HR person, Julie, where she gets her nails done. Julie is always so put together. Everything about her is beautifully immaculate.  I figured she would know a place. And sure enough, she told me about a place right by school! So last Tuesday, I walked the short couple of blocks from the school to the nail salon. The salon is in a little strip-mall complex. It’s on the top floor. Walking up the steps, I started to pick. Sheer terror was running through me – if I f-ed this up, I would never be able to color or cut my hair again! (The true fear of moving abroad = finding a new hairdresser to cut curly hair who also understood my need to be a redhead.) In my head, I ran through  all of the Spanish words I know that are associated with nails and colors, took a deep breath, and entered the store. Yo quiero colores por mi mano. [I want colors for my hand.] What?! After giving me the dog head-tilt, the woman started speaking rapid Spanish. SHIT SHIT SHIT…my eyes turned into saucers. My mind was screaming “RUN AWAY,” but I was determined to get this right. For my hair’s sake. After broken English and broken Spanish and some mad google-translate skills, I was seated at a table. All went well until the color part. First, I totally forgot the ‘g’ sound, when put with ‘e’ is pronounced like an ‘h.’ It took a solid minute to figure out “hell” and “gel” meant the same thing spoken aloud. Second, I had no freaking clue how to say dark in Spanish, so I ended up saying Negro pero no negro. Si? [black but not black, yes?] After picking up every black color, we finally found a dark purple (which I now know is violeta).

So take always from a Uruguay nail experience:

  1. We are getting screwed in the states. The experience cost me $14 (or $16 with tip) and had way more special treatments.
  2. Instead of soaking in the little bowl of lukewarm water, they place plastic gloves with lotion on and then just pop the nail thought the glove one at a time. Genius!!
  3. Overwhelming options are not a thing here. They have maybe 15 colors to choose from instead of the 150 choices that get thrown at you on chains.
  4. In typical Uruguay fashion, the manicurist will totally answer all your crazy questions and patiently wait out your horrible Spanish shuddering as you try to find the words.
  5. My cuticle are shitty no matter where I am and will be commented on in any language.
  6. I now have a go-to place for most of my beauty need, which is a great thing because the eyebrows could use some attention within the next week or two.

The finished product

2 thoughts on “It’s a Nail of a Tale

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