Being fortunate enough to be one of those people during this pandemic that is only being called upon to stay home and socially distance, I have undertaken a little experiment.
Naturally, I wasn’t going to use this “time” to learn a language or an instrument, write a novel, or take up portrait painting in the style of John Singer Sargent. Nor was I going to learn cooking or gardening. At this stage in the game, if I had wanted to do any of these things, I would already have done them.
My new interest is predicated on not having had a manicure in almost seven weeks. When I called my manicurist to cancel my last appointment back on March 22, he answered his cell phone by putting me on speaker. I asked what was going on, and he replied that the salon was busy with people getting hair and nails done.
It was then that I heard his client say cheerily, “We have our priorities straight!” To which I replied just as cheerily, “I seriously doubt that!” I should have known right then and there where we were headed.
Generally, my manicurist gives a polish job that is easily good for two weeks, which can stretch to three in a pinch. So I decided that I’d wait to see what four weeks looked like before breaking down and giving myself a manicure.
It was about that time that the strangest thing happened. It suddenly dawned on me that polishing my nails when no one who doesn’t live with me would be able to see them would be a waste of cotton balls, nail polish remover, and Essie’s “Eternal Optimist.” And so began my little experiment.
Every day, I observe how much the nail has grown, moving further out beyond the fingertip. I inherited strong nails from Mother—her nails were hard as, well, nails—so I’m not afraid of them breaking or tearing as they grow. The growth from the cuticles started revealing the nail moons, unseen since I switched from a French manicure to that “Eternal Optimist” I’m saving.
There’s only one major chip in the polish at this point, and it is fittingly on the middle finger of my right hand. I suppose that little accent of natural white nail on that particular digit would make any gesture I might make that more “effective.”
Now that the Dallas County Safer at Home order is extended until May 15, I’ve got almost two whole months to let this experiment play out. Before any one points out that May 15 is less than a month away, I already know that. And I also know why Tweety was less scared of Sylvester than a coal mine.
I’ll admit that sometimes I’m tempted to just strip off the polish and treat myself to pretty nails. I’ve even thought this would be the ideal time to try some new colors, maybe something akin to “Jungle Red.” Eventually, just the act of filing the nails to keep them shaped and strong will erode the polish at the tips. So, I’m choosing to watch the nails grow and not interrupt the process of them slowly pushing the polish out and off, leaving behind what will be a virgin, healthy nailbed.
Patience is a virtue, and I don’t score as well on the virtues as I do on the corresponding deadly sins. (I’m getting particularly high marks in Gluttony and Sloth these days.) So if I’ve got a leg up on this one, I suspect I better stay the course.
The passage of time is displayed literally at my fingertips. Those with unvarnished, sensible nails may find something similar by observing an increasing waistline, measuring the length of their roots, or calculating just how much one needs a haircut. While we may be watching all these things, the funny thing is no else can see them. Even if they could, would they pay any attention being focused on their own hair/nails/waistline?
Now that I’ve devoted close to 700 words describing my little experiment and its context, I’ve made a note to consider the difference between being fey and being vapid to determine which one better describes this ramble. Regardless of the outcome of that meditation, I’ll take comfort from and keep company with Miss Ava Gardner, who once said about herself, “Deep down, I’m pretty superficial.”