Here's how it usually goes down: Nic gets a manicure-pedicure. I sit and do crossword puzzles on my Treo 650. Today would be different.
We enter the Fancy Nail Joint (FNJ) and are immediately greeted at the counter by a well-dressed Asian (Chinese?) man. I look around. This is a lot nicer than the typical turn-and-burn nail shops. Usually, it's all flourescent lighting, grey carpet and drop ceilings. FNJ is different. Marble countertop. Plasma TVs. Stone pillars.
There's a BestBuy across the parking lot, so I'll use this opportunity to check out some X-Box games and pick up a new optical mouse. I wave to Nic, nod (bow?) to the Asian proprietor and spin toward the door.
As I'm walking out, the Asian man calls to me, "You rike-a manicure, too?" (I'm not racist. That's what he said damnit.) I smile and say, "No thanks." He looks disappointed. I'm out the door and BestBuy bound.
I return 20 minutes later to find Nic laying back in the massage chair, eyes closed, a blissful look across her face. Apparently this chair knows tricks that I don't. Her pants have been rolled up to her knees and her exposed legs are wrapped with towels of some kind. It looks like she's wearing two soft casts. I try not to look horrified and sit back down -- to my crossword.
The Asian man says, "You wife say you-ah get manicure, too."
I smile and say, "No thanks. I'm fine." He nods and offers me a cold drink, which I decline. He floats away and I'm back to trying to remember the 4-letter word for "Japan's first capital." For a brief moment, I consider asking the Asian man. I hesitate. Bad idea.
Next, I hear loud WHACKING sounds coming from the back of the shop. I stand up for a look. An Asian woman is literaly SMACKING (karate?) Nic's feet and ankles. Nic still wears a face of bliss so I assume that this is normal. I shake my head and return to my seat.
Asian man: "You wife say you-ah get manicure, too."
I smile and say, "No thanks." and try to seem really interested in my puzzle. I bet he does know the first capital of Japan. Damn him.
Then the Asian man unexpectedly walks around the corner and stands before me -- a show down. "You wife say you-ah get manicure, too." I suddenly realize that he is not smiling and this is not a question, but a statement. If this were an episode of Kung-Fu, there would be a loud GONG sound and then a tight close up on my face as I consider his challenge. Then we cut back to the Asian man, whose serious look would melt into the slightest smile. Then cut back to me -- I narrow my eyes. Back to the Asian man who nods very slowly and extends his hand.
I sigh. "Ok."
I follow him to a nail-fixin' table and sit -- alone.
I've never been on this side of the (great?) wall. I'm a MAN, damnit. Aren't we supposed to have gnarly, chewed nails? I'm being sarcastic. I have heard women say over and over again about how good a man looks with nicely manicured nails. But when I hear that, I usually mumble something about those men being "gay" and go back to biting my fingers.
I sit uncomfortably in the chair and shoot a look to Nic who nods at me approvingly. I scan the table: it's covered with chemicals, sharp objects, tiny knives, gauze, tissues. What the HELL is this?? I feel like I'm sitting at a Civil War operating table.
A different Asian (viet-namese?) woman appears from nowhere. (How do they do that?) She brings me a bowl of steaming, bubbly green water. She sets in front of me. GONG. Close up of me looking at the bowl, then back at her -- I narrow my focus. Close up of her as she smiles slyly. Close up of me looking at the bowl puzzled. Close up of her as she bows slightly and says "soak". Close up of me as I awkwardly say, "I'm sorry? I've never done this before." Close up of her eyes. Close up of my eyes. Suddenly she takes my hands and puts them in the bowl.
Jeez. Women love to torture themselves, don't they?
My Asian nemesis disappears again and I'm left alone at the Torture Table (TM) soaking my fingers in boiling hot, green, bubbling goo.
From across the room: Nic giggles.
The Asian man appears over my right shoulder from thin air. "You rike-ah watch TV?" He gestures to a gorgeous 50-inch Plasma TV hanging on the wall directly in front of me. "TV? Sure!" I say excitedly.
The Asian man pops a DVD into a player on the wall and the Plasma flashes to life. I shift in my seat and smile. There's something about Plasma TVs and men. I think that Plasma televisions emit some type of radiation that stimulates the testes and causes increased testosterone production. I don't even LIKE football, but power up a Plasma HD set and I'm all "Go Raiders! Take it to the cooker! Roast his duck! Julianne those carrots!" (Or whatever football fans say)
The Asian man produces a remote and smiles at me.
In my mind, I'm Homer Simpson: "Mmmmm remoooooote."
The Asian man deftly works the remote and navigates to the main menu of... oh no...
"Rumor Has It..." starring Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Costner and Shirley McLaine.
The Asian man puts the remote away and nods (bows?) at me as he floats back to the counter.
ASIDE: I have a personal rule about movies. I will not watch any movie where a castmember of Friends has a leading role. Think about it. Stick with this rule and you'll spare yourself from movies like: Ed, Lost In Space and Along Came Polly.
All I'm doing at this point is hoping that when it hurts (and I know it will) that I don't react. I can not make a face, I can not shift in my seat, and DEAR GOD I can NOT make a sound. My honor is at stake. My manculinity is on the line. My manhood hangs in the balance. I try not to look at Nic, but I know she's watching me.
Thankfully: it does not hurt. (that much)
Asian lady switches to my left hand and repeats the stabbing and slicing. She is cutting and shaping my cuticles. (They do that? Huh. Who knew?)
She works silently which makes me somewhat uncomfortable. I feel like I should be talking to her. I've been in nail salons many times before and have always observed women chatting and gossiping. Isn't that what I should do? For a moment I consider talking celebrity gossip with my Asian caretaker. Then I realize that there are two obstacles: (1) she doesn't speak any English besides "soak" and (2) I don't know any celebrity gossip. Ah well. I go back to watching (sigh) "Rumor Has It..." Oh look, Mark Ruffalo is in this, too. Yay.
Next, a strange nail file or buffer of some kind. Is that even a word? "buffer"? I have no idea what I'm talking about. Finally, my keeper speaks: "you rike-ah pah-rish?" I don't know what she is asking me. She sees the puzzled look on my face and in her frustration changes the question to a statement: "Pah-rish. You will-ah rike it."
Oh... "polish." All this time she is saying "pol---" WAIT.
She finishes pah-rishing my nails, smiles, nods (bows?) and vanishes like a mystical character of the Kabuki. I'm left at the Torture Table (TM) alone. I consider my nails. Hmm. Not bad. Clean. Not too gay. I'm happy.
Nic nods approvingly. Seems as though I passed.
Next installment: my first hot stone pedicure experience, my inaugural facial (with extractions) and my maiden voyage on the SS Thalossotherapy Seaweed and Paraffin Wax Wrap.