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Location: Connecticut, United States


Thursday, October 13, 2011

It's been over six years and I still have not had another manicure after this experience I wrote about back in June 2005.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

The Manicure

Yet again I had another problem with using a gift certificate. It’s fine and lovely when someone buys one – but don’t dare try to use it or you get second-class citizen treatment or worse.

I cashed in one free manicure at a nearby nail salon, and got looks as if I’d come in there with a Glock and a ski mask.

The Free Manicure Certificate was examined by a tiny Asian woman who must have had advanced degrees in forensic science. It was read, reread, and both the certificate and I were scrutinized from every angle.

It was not with a happy-face that she “okayed” my manicure by a quick head nod and finger-point to an empty chair.

I knew why this manicurist was available, after about two seconds. She was the salon sadist. Kee was her name but pain was her game.

There was a language barrier as Kee spoke very little English and I don’t know any Korean. This fact didn’t help matters.

First Kee, the diminutive dominatrix that she was, slammed down a box containing items that looked like they’d be more useful in the operating room than a nail salon: Big metal clippers, scalpel-like tweezers, and a metal nail file. When’s the last time anyone ever used a metal nail file? It looked more like a rasp than a nail file and I’m sure it could saw through jail bars like butter.

But these torturous tools were meant for me.

She asked me something – I could tell by her inflection and the OK? at the end of her sentence.

I replied OK. I mean I’m in a nail salon getting this relaxing treat of having my nails done for me...so whatever she was asking couldn’t have been too dangerous…one would think.

Without much ado she was taking these mammoth clippers with their mighty metal jaws and clipping my fingernails lower than they’d ever been or were meant to be. Ten snips and they were guillotined down to the quick, a millimeter away from drawing blood.

(What could she have asked me? I’m going to take your nails down so low you’ll look like a nail-biter, OK?) or (We don’t like honoring gift certificates here, so I’m going to give you the most painful manicure of your life so you won’t forget that, OK?)

After removing any hint of nail beyond the nail-bed, she pulled out the metal nail file and started filing away as if she had a bionic hand that was capable of speeds so high she could manually power an airplane. I swear I saw smoke coming up from my nails and felt heat burning through my fingertips.

I was ready to scream "uncle" when mercifully she stopped – but then Kee pulled out cuticle scissors sharp as razors and started plucking at bits of my cuticle -- then she moved on to bits of flesh near my nail that must have offended her. Snip, grab, pluck, snip, dig, snip...until I was polka-dotted with poppy-seed sized blood spots on each finger.

Once I was through this part I thought I was home free. Phew! I’d made it without crying. Hopefully without any permanent scarring too.

Then the hand massage came and she systematically attempted to dislocate each joint of each finger on each hand -- pulling so hard and for so long, I figured she wouldn’t stop till she had a whole finger ripped off , metacarpally speaking.

I was a yellow-bellied coward. I wanted to tell her military secrets; where the bombs were hidden; when the invasion was coming…anything to make her stop -- but I had no such knowledge... so all I could do was endure until I was back to the point of screaming out loud.

Again…she knew exactly when I could take no more without audibly crying out and causing a ruckus. And the pain stopped again.

After dabbing some alcohol-based solution (probably mixed with ground glass and Kosher salt) on each finger making sure to hit each miniature wound, she said something which again I couldn’t understand, and brought out a nail-polish bottle in a color I’d call stinky pink but I wasn’t going to complain. I nodded and smiled figuring soon I’d be out of there with my throbbing fingers and my stinky pink nails. (What was left of them.)

In approximately one minute she’d applied one base coat, three stinky pink coats and one top coat to my nail stubs.

Wow, I sure looked like something else, but it was over with…I thought.

Then she led me to a drying table where you stick your hands into a slot and air blows over them drying your polish. She stood behind my chair and said something that I ignored as I would never say OK to her again for love or money.

Once my hands were positioned flat in the narrow slot and the air was blowing, she delivered her first blows to my neck. Karate chops from neck to shoulder and back to the neck again. Then kneading hands grabbed me in the same way Steinbeck’s Lenny “hugged” the mice in the barn, and she started squeezing the living bejeezus out of my poor neck and shoulder muscles.

This folks was not fun.

This hurt like a sonofabitch.

This wasn’t a massage, it was a massacre!

I’d thought the nail drying time could be peaceful and relaxing but no – she kept squeezing and pounding until she had thoroughly beat the crap out of my upper back. I felt lucky I could still feel my legs, so I knew she hadn’t broken a vertebra and I’d soon be able to walk out of there.

I was waiting for her to haul off and smack me on my cheek if I made a peep, so I endured. I had already given her a generous tip, (30%) said thank you when I left, but I got the point.

Flush those two other Free Manicure certificates down the toilet, or give them to someone I hate.

So, never, ever, ever, ever use a gift certificate from Crystal Nail Emporium unless you want some of the same.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

(Originally published: Saturday, April 29, 2006) edited for clarity

The Housecoat and the Shoe

Hanging on a hook at the back of Grandma’s bedroom door was a multi-colored “housecoat” that no one ever saw Grandma wear.

It was hideous; a yellow, orange, green, red and purple flowered, short-sleeved snap coat.

Grandma wouldn’t have been caught dead in it…so we wondered why it was always hanging on that hook and why the large front pocket was always bulging with what appeared to be “used” tissues.

In my mind, I figured she must only wear it when she had a bad cold.

Grandma was no fashion maven, but this ugly housecoat always seemed out of place to us. Its position on the bedroom-door hook indicated it was something she wore frequently, but no one had ever seen her wear it – not even when we’d drop off a pineapple pastry and the New York Times newspaper to her, early Sunday morning, so she could do the puzzle -- which she loved to do as quickly as possible, especially while munching her beloved pineapple pastry.

We all knew every inch of that tiny house, every nook and cranny; every drawer and cupboard. We knew what was in the attic crawl space and what could be found in the “sideboard” or the small drawers in her nightstand.

We knew about the shoe in the bathroom too and what was inside the shoe.

If anyone had a field trip or was going to the movies or to the beach or on vacation; if we showed her a good report card or if we helped her paint her porch or rake her leaves, Grandma would tell us: Get the shoe.

The shoe was a reproduction of a Victorian woman’s lace-up boot made out of pottery and painted black. Inside the shoe was a wad of fives and ones and a few tens and twenties…maybe a hundred dollars, maybe less.

She would dip into the shoe and pull out some bills and say: Here, take this and buy yourself some … (popcorn, candy, souvenirs, whatever it was that was wanted at the time ). The bills were rolled and pushed down into the shoe and they stayed rolled until you folded them lengthwise to straighten them out.

Just thinking about that shoe puts a smile on my face.

If she had reached into her purse and pulled out her wallet to hand over some money, I doubt it would have held the excitement for her grandchildren that standing on the toilet, reaching up to the top shelf and hopping off with the shoe accomplished.

We were at Grandma’s house one day and after dipping into the shoe to hand out a “salary” for picking tomatoes and watering the garden, Grandma’s doorbell rang.

It was her neighbor Michele. Born in France and having lived in the states for less than five years, Michele’s accent delighted us as did her numerous mispronunciations and general misuse of the English language. But this day wasn’t one where we could enjoy Michele’s accent as she was crying, sobbing uncontrollably.

We were quiet as Michele attempted to tell Grandma what was wrong between loud hiccups of grief…her beloved younger sister Edvige had been hit by a car while crossing a Paris street, and was on her death bed. Edvige’s fiancé had called Michele to tell her that her sister was “on death’s door,” “hanging on by a thread” with “one foot in the grave.”

(Michele actually said her sister had one foot on death’s door and was hanging on to the grave by a thread, but this time no one had any desire to giggle.)

What was intolerable for Michele to bear was the fact that she couldn’t go to Paris to visit her sister; to see her one more time, or, if the worse happened, could she afford to travel to France to go to her funeral. She was forced to stay in Connecticut while her heart, soul and mind were focused on her dying sister thousands of miles away.

Grandma hugged Michele and spoke in soft, soothing tones. We couldn’t make out what Grandma was saying until her very last words to Michele before she went out the door: Go home and pack right now.

As Michele went out the door, Grandma called to us: Would one of you please get my housecoat hanging on the back of my bedroom door?

Sure. We wondered why she wanted it – but not for long.

She reached into the pocket of the hideous housecoat and pulled out a wad of tissues.

Then she reached in again and this time pulled out a wad of money…bills and more bills but unlike the shoe, these bills had $50 and $100 on them.

“One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten,” Grandma said.

She continued counting. “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, two thousand,” Grandma said.

Thousand! We were stunned.

From the pocket of that old housecoat Grandma fished out two thousand dollars in hundred dollar bills. And we could see there were many rolled up bills still inside the pocket before she shoved in the wrinkled up tissues till they spilled over the pocket’s top.

Which is how Michele ended up flying to France to see her dying sister. (Who never did die though she sported a pretty deep scar on her chin for the rest of her life.) Michele used the money from Grandma’s housecoat pocket to buy her ticket.

A few months later, Grandma told us that Edvige’s fiancé had repaid Michele for her traveling expenses as he owned a popular café in the heart of Paris and was quite wealthy. Michele returned the money to Grandma and the housecoat pocket once again bulged with rolled up bills.

When Grandma got cancer and moved into the nursing home, we were left to sell her house and belongings. She told us to be sure to look in the shoe and in that housecoat pocket where we did find money, but less than she had once squirreled away, as she called it.

She must have given money to other people at different times; dipping into the shoe for small treats and into the hideous housecoat’s pocket for big problems.

When we told her about the movers coming to clear out her house she said, “Don’t forget to go into my housecoat pocket and give them a good tip for their troubles. Then keep whatever money you find and for God's sake, throw that damned housecoat out."

Which I did.

Slab bacon...that's the word.

Lately the bacon I've had is more like little ham strips...no fat to crisp or add grease to the frying pan. I've given up pork now for a long time due to having no access to what pork once was: a flavorful white meat with enough fat on the outside of the chops or roast to keep the pork tender and juicy.

Today you are in the unenviable position of buying "treated" meat like Always Tender (TM) pork or chops that come out stiff as cardboard and with a similar taste.

I am not the only person lamenting the loss of crispy flavorful bacon or tasty pork roast (love love with potatoes and onions browned and beautiful from cooking in the pan) but I know now that pork is just a memory but I did have hope for bacon and good thing.

You can buy slab bacon from the butcher that is marbled and tasty, will crisp up and yield wonderful fat (use with care) to pump up the flavors of other foods.

After eating a few pounds of slab bacon and finding it wonderful I recommend it highly.

I'd rather have one or two slices of real bacon once in a while than pounds of fake bacon any day.

Glad l can still pig out on something I thought was gone for good.

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Friday, October 07, 2011

It's pizza Friday but I'm opting for nice greasy fried fish and chips instead. First of all, how often do you get to call French Fries chips? Bet you never order a burger and chips, not if you're in the US anyhow. And if you do say that, you'll get a burger and some potato chips on the side.

I love calling fries chips just as much as I love calling potato chips crisps..wish we did that all the time, but for now my day is made tasting those words: fish and chips.

Looking for writing work..I'm in a lull right now and I want the lull to go bye bye...lullaby is what I think I hear all day long because when I don't have a project I'm working on -- my mind wanders, I think I'm tired all the time; I do extreme yawning -- so wide I worry I'll dislocate my jaw and I bloviate on any subject to strangers to help bleed the words out of me until I have a paying gig. Or even come her and throw up letters on my blog.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Fat Cat

As this blog shows, I am not up to date on graphic arts - I can recognize a well laid out blog or even an attractive blog with beautiful borders, headers and twinkling lights, but I just haven't kept up with code and how to create the look of a blog that will scream: I'm so cool. But I love my big fat cat, so why not feature him on this entry even though so far I have no intentions of writing about cats.

I would love a gorgeously sculpted blog but don't want to put the time into learning how to achieve that secondary desire, on the other hand, as a writer I feel I'm top of the heap - lots of experience, love of the written word and an ear for turning words into a written song. I have always loved to write and love to read which is a true gift as I'm never bored (or at a loss for words.)

I do believe the pen is mightier than the sword -- it can cut deeper and more quickly than a well sharpened saber. I think there's amazing power in words -- they can make you laugh or cry alone at night, under the covers with a wobbly book-light clipped to your Kindle or keep you from going stark-raving mad at the Department of Motor Vehicles as you spend your lunch hour, your boss's lunch hour and my lunch hour on a metal folding chair waiting for your number to be announced.

I've been selling custom content to clients for a while now and love the diversity of the work and the quick turnaround...I love deadlines and to me, looking for the perfect word to describe something is a lot like Hucklebuckle Beanstalk only instead seeking a red thimble or a pink eraser, it's a word that's on the lam and the word is stuck somewhere in the crinkles of my brain.

So, contact me (Marybb1@gmail.com)if you need a word lover to create some content for your internet site...of course I also write for print publications but for the most part the ink is drying up on that fading venue for the written word.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Fashion trends for women that have to go

Bare Legs

Enough with the oiled, legs stuck into heels and no matter the temperature, glistening down the road even if the hands are carrying a snow shovel.

Hair Tchotchkes

Not all of them, a mother of pearl hair comb or a tortoise shell barrette can shine with class, but no more tinsel please. When our heads start to look like Christmas past it's time to dump the trend.

True story: Was shopping in the poultry department of the local supermarket looking for a thanksgiving turkey and almost bought a 22 year old woman instead. She had so many turkey feathers attached to her hair she looked edible. (not true story I lied, but she did need to be plucked for sure)

Platform Spike Heels

Why anyone thinks wearing shoes that look like they were custom made for Frankenstein's monster is cool -- or worse thinking that am-bu-la-ting in these shoes with the same gait as a stilt walker is femine or sexy -- must be really sad we gave up foot binding in the last century.

Glitter Cleavage

If you need glitter to get someone to notice your cleavage you'd be better off spending your money on a good bra rather than sparkles. Crows get distracted by shiny objects but men wonder if after a date with you they'll still sparkle during their morning shave.

Fashion trends for women that must return


They don't hurt your hair, they aren't hard to use, they should be allowed back into the hair adornment arena and not mocked and scorned.


Croc-mocking has reached an all-time high but nothing is as waterproof or lightweight as the Croc -- its wide toe-box keeps hammer toes and bunions at bay and even allows for toe-wiggling which sometimes is as necessary as nose-blowing.


Why buy expensive underthings like smoothers, slimmies, shapers and other types of industrial strength underwear when a good solid pair of pantyhose can do the trick for a lot less money plus, even yellow-white chicken legs or veined-like-a-road-map legs can look lovely without the sticky glow.

Glad I got that (and the glitter) off my chest!

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