When you're about to go to Broadway, you need a good mani/pedi. I mean, even if you're going to be in the audience versus onstage. Especially if you're going to see Bernadette Peters in the revival of Sondheim's “Follies.” I mean, Bernadette would notice.
So, it was past time to duck into an old favorite place, , and take care of business. The old shellac job was growing out at an embarrassing rate, and it was becoming more fun to pick at the edges than it was to admire the late summer color. This is a sign you've been neglecting yourself.
On the rainy Friday afternoon I stepped into the mall front shop in the Big Y plaza, the pre-Happy Hour crowd had beaten me there. I mean, how did they all get there so early? There were a couple of UConn students, cooing over the handiwork they were getting. There were some working women, putting a polish on the start of their weekend. And a couple of people, including a mom with a young son, breezed in to get some emergency hair removal in one of the private rooms in the back.
Sunny politely asked me to take a seat while she finished up with a client, but in no time she was back to me, guiding me to the big leather massage chair, with the purple lit jetty swirling in the foot bath. I set down my soft drink and book, which I never picked up again, preferring to chat about writing with Sunny, a full-time student at Eastern Connecticut State University.
Before I knew it, she was removing my toenail polish, trimming and shaping my nails and letting my feet take turns at soaking between her gentle ministrations. And then came my favorite part – the foot and leg massage. Sunny treated my peds and gams as the potential root of all evil, gently kneading them and persuading them to behave toward the rest of my body. What a luxury.
For a color, I had chosen Grand Central Carnation because, after all, that's where Metro North will drop me on my way to my date with Bernadette. One can't read too much into these choices. They're important.
Sunny wove spongy toe separators in and out of my toes. A slight deformity between my second and third toe on both feet makes this a challenge, but Sunny pretends not to notice. The truth is we all have something about our feet that needs hiding, so the art of the pedicurist is to turn a blind eye at the right time.
She applies the color like a Michelangelo and we're done with Phase 1.
Sunny guides me to her manicure station where she finishes removing the stubborn shellac from my nails and prepares them for adornment. We decide to repeat the toe color on the fingers. I'm a simple being.
At this point, everything is choreographed so as not to smudge the nails. After they are prepared for color, I get a hand and forearm massage with lotion. I feel Sunny working at a tense knot in my hand (From stress? Who, me?) and I think, "Why does this kind of pain feel so good?"
Then I go outside to stow my book in the car and get my checkbook to settle the bill before my nails are painted. All set, I return to the table, and my hands go Hollywood with the rich red color.
Then I'm ready for the ultraviolet drying station. One of the owners, Moon, expertly tests my nails to see if they're still tacky, and they don't pass muster. She renews the drying time. Sunny comes over to – guess what? – massage my neck and back. “This is unusual in American culture?” she asks, being from Korea and an Asian influence that makes massage a fact of life, not just a nice-to-have. Yes, we are backward in this way, I think. I give myself over to a superior culture.
I look at the wall and see a “Winter Treat” poster that advertises a mani/pedi for $41, good from Oct. 16 through January 2012. Note to self: Come back soon.
It's time to depart. People and tasks are lurking at home. Bernadette is waiting for me to get to Broadway in a day or two. Moon takes my keys and unlocks my car out front, settles me in and fastens my seatbelt, all so my nails will remain flawless. I am a queen. I am a Broadway star.
At least until I reach the next highway exit and turn into my driveway.
Elle Nails, at 23 Fieldstone Commons, in Tolland, offers manicure, pedicure and waxing service seven days a week. You can just walk in, but they prefer reservations if possible. Call 860-871-2155 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.