Do you know what a “Happy” is? A Happy is like a free souvenir, something small and possibly insignificant to everyone but you that makes you smile whenever you see it.
Manicures and pedicures are Happies, or rather, cause Happies. Whether done at a salon or at home, the lasting effects are constant Happies. A small, shiny splash of glitter that sparkles in the sun when you look down at your hands on the steering wheel, or the sharp contrast of a snazzy fuschia on your tanned toes poking through the sand (or posing for that obligatory feet-up-in-front-of-the-ocean shot for Facebook), or even that slash of a sexy red when trailing your fingers over a lover’s skin. Getting a manicure is a lovely form of self-pampering. It’s not technically considered as necessary as a haircut, but it is the one in which the results are seen more by you than anyone looking at you. That alone makes it more special. Having her nails done can make a woman feel feminine and special even in a job where she wears a uniform or clothing made for utilitarian service and not made to stand out in any way, or especially look feminine.
Group mani/pedis can be fun because it gets you out of the house, you can hang with your girls for a bit in a relaxing atmosphere, and you have a lasting reminder when you leave. A mother and her daughter(s) can enjoy each other’s company, even with the younger daughters. Mom has a chance to relax, the younger child feels “so grown up”, and they are together in a place where they will actually talk to each other (anybody with daughters—children—know those opportunities for quality talk are few and far between). I myself have had only three professional manicures (one when I got married and one last year just because I could—a valid reason for almost anything) and two pedicures (one was a gift for my 30th birthday, the other was a “day with my daughters” event).
I’ll be honest, it is not something I could afford right now with any sort of regularity. I do my own nails most of the time. And I do it for me. I’ve even developed a bit of a system: I start my nails a few hours before my shower. Base coat and main coat of color—and I’m not worried about being neat. In the shower (even if it’s the next morning) your cuticles soften, especially after shampooing and conditioning. Before I rinse my hair, while I have conditioner still on my hands, I use my fingernails to lightly scrape around each nail. Between water-softening and the conditioner any messy, stuck-on polish on my fingers and cuticles comes off easily. Then just before I have to leave for work—literally just before—after I’ve put my coat on and have everything ready to go, I put another coat of color on (without going too close to the edges). It dries on my way to work. After that, for two days in the morning I put on a coat of quick-drying clear polish. It lasts quite a while. This may sound like a lot of work, but it really isn’t. Figure out your own time schedule. Since you’ll be able to neaten it up in the shower, you don’t have to worry too much about being messy around the edges of your nails initially, which means painting them will take less time. One coat dries fast. When you drive/sit on a bus or train/walk that is the perfect drying time. I never thought I’d be able to do my nails with any regularity, especially since I have no real concept of time management, but I can and I still have time for my jobs! Or you can take all the time you want doing your nails; it’s as therapeutic as coloring, a type of meditation tool.
By now some of you could be thinking, “Did she actually spend all this time writing about her fingernails?” or “Oh my God, did I actually spend all this time readingabout her fingernails?” First of all, the answer to both questions would be a yes (you were warned in a previous post). Secondly, manicures are no longer considered totally fru fru anymore. Nail polish is wearable art. The colors and designs you choose to wear are a statement of personality or mood. Yes, we still get upset if we break a nail, but not to the degree of times past. But that also doesn’t mean we’d let our nice manicure prevent us from playing football or painting a bench. We just want to enjoy something that gives us a little pleasure, a momentary smile, a Happy, that we carry with us even during a nasty day at work or a long drive in traffic. Being able to take your smiles where you can get them goes a long way in keeping you sane and going strong. Nothing is too small to do that.