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
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.