Nailed It

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I recently received a nail salon gift card, which I thought was a bit unusual, because I have short, raggedy nails and giant “Man-​Hands.” My “Man-​Hands” are definitely passed down from my father’s side — my Uncle Willis could bend bottle caps into little tacos just using his thumb and index finger — and my Dad had thick strong hands too. A great quality for a man, but for a woman?

Having “Man-​Hands” does have definite advantages — I can weed like nobody’s business, have rarely asked my husband to open a jar for me, and if ever I need to strangle somebody, it shouldn’t be that difficult. Plus, I suspect that having hands the size of dinner plates helped me in my basketball-​playing days of yesteryear.

So I decide to break my disgusting nail-​biting habit for good and get myself a gel manicure, taking my two daughters and making a “girls’ nail day” out of it. The last time I got my nails done (French tips and all) was in August of 1999, for my wedding. I figured that if my hubby and I decided to get the “hand close-​up shot” it would be nice to able to differentiate between the bride and the groom. That was 18 years ago, so I was about due for some glam.

I asked the young woman at the front counter if I could get some “nail decals” for my daughters’ manicures. Her snooty reply let me know in no uncertain terms that it is nail art, not merely stickers. I had no idea.

After this embarrassing exchange, she rose quickly from her seat and walked over to another employee — soon they were both looking over my way and laughing their heads off. I was trapped in a Seinfeld episode.

On the other hand, my nail technician was quite surly and didn’t say much. Without looking at me, he grabbed my hand (Whoa, Mister! We just met!) and asked me if I wanted a French manicure. I mumbled “Umm… I was thinking…” and before I knew it, he pulled out a pair of very sharp clippers and started squaring off my nice long nails. REALLY SHORT. Two long months of not biting wasted!

I tried to make small talk (he was holding my hand after all) and he just grunted at me. When faced with someone this grouchy, I consider it a personal challenge to make them laugh. Feigning actual interest, I peppered him with questions:

Have you tried using Wite-​Out for the French tips? That way if you make a mistake, it’s already fixed!”

Ever considered Lee Press-​On Nails? I bet that would save you a ton of money.”

Do you charge more if the person has an extra finger? Or charge less if they are missing one?”

Would you be willing to give a manicure to a newborn? Nothing is cuter than a newborn baby with long, bright red fingernails.”

Each time he replied with a loud silence — not a happy nail technician. I thought for a moment about giving him a “death grip” squeeze with my hand he was holding — he had little soft, girly hands which I could crush quite easily — but then I thought that is not what this day of pampering is about.

After a hand massage (a.k.a a very greasy “pull my finger” game), I got a nail soak. I didn’t know how many fingers to put in the tiny bowl placed in front of me, so I just dunked my thumbnail in like Little Jack Horner. Mr. Grouchy finally spoke — “PUT ALL IN!” and I quickly put my entire thumb in. That wasn’t right either. Mr. Grouchy was clearly very disappointed in me.

After some nail polish, drying, more nail polish, and more drying, I was done.

When I looked down, I saw that my “Man-​Hands” were gone — replaced by “Andre the Giant” hands. With lovely light pink nails.

I think I will wait another 18 years to get my nails done again.


Elizabeth Wiethorn

Elizabeth is a freelance writer and lifetime Pittsburgher who resides in the North Hills. She has worked in adult literacy, at a financial investment firm, as a kindergarten teacher’s aide, as a debt collector, and even as an entrepreneur. Her BA in English from the University of Dayton and her MBA from Duquesne University provide her with the unusual combination of being able to “cook the books” but also write a concise, grammatically-​correct statement denying all wrongdoing. She finds humor in the everyday and loves to laugh, especially at other people. All emails praising her undeniable talent can be sent to .

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