Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Blood Red Nails on her Fingertips

Through various channels, I know some folk who receive public assistance. I know "the system" has its critics - I even believe some of those criticisms are valid some of the time. But that's not what I want to talk about today. Today I want to talk about acrylic nails.

Now I am a big fan of a nice mani/pedi. It is nice - perhaps even necessary - to feel pampered and pretty sometimes. I wouldn't begrudge it to anyone. I also know that when you're down and out, finding something - whatever that thing is - that helps you to feel good about yourself can be invaluable. A mani and/or a pedi can be a nice treat. In the grand scheme of beauty treatments, it can be a rather affordable treat, too. Acrylics, however, are something else.

Acrylics are more expensive to get, they require vigilant upkeep, and should one decide at some point to opt out, they leave the natural nails a hot buttered mess that takes several months (at least) from which to recover.

So why do so many gals who are "in the system" opt for them? A couple days ago I ran into a young lady I know who is "in the system" (man, I sure hope you're using air quotes, at least mentally if not actually physically, when you read that...). She was proudly showing off her "new nails" - not only acrylics, but acrylics with a hand-painted (not air-brushed) detail added. They were - quite the thing. In the course of her workday, she broke one rather painfully. She went back to the shop and got a new one, then had the whole set repainted. Now, I've read enough service menus to know that this was no cheap undertaking. This young lady lives with her boyfriend's parents and doesn't have a car. But she has some hella expensive nails.

When my girls were younger, I got regular manicures. It was well earned, relatively inexpensive pampering. An hour of "me-time" every other week, when the rest of the hours in my week were anything but. There was a woman whose appointments more often than not coincided with mine. It was not at all unusual to hear her say, "yeah, they're turning my electricity off this week" followed quickly by "go ahead and put the little rhinestones on - them are cute".

I suppose - I'm told, at least - that the mentality is that the bills and the debt are overwhelming. "I don't have the hundreds (or thousands) it would take to pay folks what they're asking. But I DO have $40-50 for my nails." Somehow I don't think that's exactly what Rick Nelson had in mind when he said, "you can't please everyone, so you've got to please yourself".

Is it wrong that all this writing about foolish, indulgent spending has left me craving a caramel macchiato and a vanilla cupcake from Starbucks?


Bass Is Life said...

Yes. Yes, it is.


Tammy said...

aw, but them cupcakes are good!

Chris said...

You know, I find myself in the same place. Wanting the 1.65 coffee in the morning instead of just brewing it myself. As for nails, I'm with you -- ESPECIALLY the pedi. Wooo.

It's just a curious thing, I suppose. Perhaps the well-maintained expensive nails is a way of self-expression...and a way to say "I might be 'in the system', but I don't have to look it!". I can understand it; but at the same time, if you go acrylic-less and just paint your normal nails, that's huge bank in a year. Imagine if that money was invested differently in one's life... perhaps to extract themselves out of "the system".

Tammy, next time I sees you we will haz cupcake.

Tammy said...

that? is a plan. :-)