I want to ask a question: When and how did it happen that you absolutely had to have a manicure? I don't begin to know the answer, but I want to leave the question out there, floating around in the atmosphere, as a reminder that just when you think you know exactly how many things you have to do to yourself where maintenance is concerned, another can just pop up out of nowhere and take a huge bite out of your life.

I spent my first 45 years never thinking about my nails. Occasionally, I filed them with the one lone wretched emery board I owned. (A side note on this subject: One of the compelling mysteries of the world, right up there with the missing socks, is what happens to all the other emery boards in the box of emery boards you bought so that you would have more than just one lone wretched emery board.) Anyway, occasionally, I filed my nails, put a little polish on them, and went out into the world. This process took about three minutes, twice a year. (Just kidding. But not by much.) I knew there were women who had manicures on a regular basis, but in my opinion they were indolent women who had nothing better to do. Or they were under the mistaken impression that painted nails were glamorous. They were certainly not women who made their living at a typewriter, the machine that was the sworn enemy of long nails.

And then one day, like mushrooms, a trillion nail places appeared in Manhattan. Suddenly, there were more nail places than there were liquor stores or Kinko's or opticians or dry cleaners or locksmiths, and there are way more of all of those in Manhattan than you can ever understand. Sometimes it seemed there were more nail places in Manhattan than there were nails. Most of these nail places were staffed by young Korean women, all of whom could do a manicure quickly and efficiently and not eat up the clock in any way by feigning the remotest interest in their customers. And they were incredibly cheap—eight or ten dollars at most.

Soon everyone was getting manicures. If your nails weren't manicured (as opposed to merely clean), you felt ungroomed. You felt ashamed. You felt like sitting on your hands. And so it became necessary to have manicures once a week. Which brings me, alas, to pedicures.

The best thing about a pedicure is that most of the year, from September to May, to be exact, no one except your loved one knows if you have had one. The second best thing about a pedicure is that while you're having your feet done, you have the use of your hands and can easily read or even talk on a cell phone. The third best thing about a pedicure is that when it's over, your feet really do look adorable.

The worst thing about pedicures is that they take way too much time and then, just when you think you're done, you have to wait for your toenails to dry. It takes almost as long for your toenails to dry as it does to have a pedicure. So there you sit, for what seems like eternity, and finally you can't stand waiting one more minute, so you gently slip on your sandals and leave and on the way home you absolutely ruin the polish on your big toe and since your big toe is really the only thing anyone notices as far as your toenails are concerned, you might as well not have had a pedicure in the first place.

Next: Unwanted hair


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