For more years than I can count, every three weeks on the button, I have gotten my fingernails done in a salon. And in non-winter months, toenails too. I discovered this indulgence along with so many other middle-class women during the past 20 years. It is amazing how nail shops went from zero to big business in seemingly every strip mall and business block in small and large towns alike.
I started this habit about the time I underwent a full makeover. I lost a bunch of weight, started getting my hair highlighted, tanned in a salon, bleached my teeth. It all took a lot time and yes, cash. It all took a lot of maintenance just to look, as I often told friends, average.
Fast forward to now. I’m a fallen Weight Watcher. I decided that it’s probably not smart (not that it ever was, certainly) to frequent tanning beds at age 56. My teeth could use a blast of bleach. The hair is still not gray – only because it is highlighted every three months, and until a few weeks ago, I was still getting the nails professionally done.
Even with highlighted hair, I don’t have thick, lovely tresses. Even with the whitening, my teeth are short and imperfect. But with the nails, I could look at them for three weeks at a time and think of them as perfect. It was nice to have something that looked so darned good. But was it worth it?
Since the start of my fingernail appointments, Brian hasn’t understood. I told him that I tended to bite my nails and that in their natural state, my nails were weak—both all too true. He still didn’t get it. Once he joked with some women at his school about my lavish fingernails. One of them said, “Oh, it’s probably not just her fingernails. I’m sure she gets her toenails done too.”
That would be a yes.
Brian has kidded me many times about my “store-bought” fingertips. “When are you going to quit getting them done?” he’d ask.
He’d joke about the money we’ve dropped on the cause. He never demanded, “Stop! Let’s save that money,” but he mentioned it enough that I finally made a decision.
I decided as a somewhat odd but meaningful retirement gift to my husband, I would return my nails to their natural state and save money. Well, not completely natural. I am doing them myself now like the old days.
It’s not that he “made me” or that I had to do it. I simply chose to save that money in the family budget and knew that he would like that. It was a way to honor him. And don’t we all like to be honored and acknowledged for our feelings about things?
What I know is this: He doesn’t love me for my nails, a number on the scales, my hair or my tan. He simply loves me. It’s good to remember that and acknowledge it too.
I thought I might hate this new nail normal. The surprise is that I don’t. The toenails don’t really look much different when I do them myself and while the fingernails are for sure not as attractive, I like the ability to change the color more often on my own and I like the nails short. I can fly on a keyboard. I can even dig in dirt. So short nails are what it will be. I even got a surprise the other evening. A friend of mine didn’t even know about my new nail order. I had on bright aqua polish I had applied myself and she told me my nails always look so nice. Really?
Today I had lunch with son Ben. He didn’t know about nail situation, either. I don’t think he’s ever commented on my fingernails but today he said, “Nice nails.”
For now I’m keeping the hair highlights, but I’m not ruling out trying my non-professionally manicured hand at do-it-myself.
But that’s another conversation.
What beauty treatments do you enjoy professionally? What ones do you do yourself?